Please write and tell us where you are in the world and how your careers are progressing, or just write about anything that is close to your heart.


Email your letters to nelia.engelbrecht@nwu.ac.za, fax them to 086 614 3222 or mail them to Nelia Engelbrecht, Institutional Office, North-West University, Private Bag X1290,

Potchefstroom, 2520.



Sanja-Rika and Theo Venter, who have married in the meantime, are both alumni of the Potchefstroom Campus of the NWU.

Watch out for the next edition of the NWU & U for a nice long article in which Sanja-Rika tells us more about their experiences in China.


Messages from afar

China, a land of surprises

Sanja-Rika on China’s Great Wall.

On 28 August 2014, my future husband, Theo Venter, and I boarded an aeroplane for China to teach English as a foreign language to Chinese school children.


After a 13-hour-long flight, we landed in Hong Kong, from where we travelled by ferry to Shenzhen, our final destination. In Shenzhen, we taught at the Mingde Foreign Language Experimental School – a huge institution with 300 staff members and 5 000 learners from Grade 1 to Grade 12.


On the first day at the school, we met our enthusiastic learners who were very excited to see a foreigner in the flesh – for the first time in their lives. With a lot of “oohs” and “aahs”, they ran towards us, touched us and then dashed away again.


With our days filled with teaching the children and taking Chinese classes ourselves, the months flew. Once a week, my fiancé travelled into the city centre to play rugby for the Shenzhen Dragons. Whenever the opportunity arose, we travelled throughout China, visiting Beijing, Kaiping, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Hong Kong, Yunnan and many more interesting places.


We came to know a fascinating culture and language. We saw unbelievable landscapes and ate interesting food. Sometimes we felt lonely, longing for our own language, culture, people and normality.


Two years have passed, and now I am sitting in Shanghai, writing this letter. Shanghai is a wonderful, modern, metropolitan city with 28 million people. A lot has happened since we landed in China in 2014. The language that we speak daily is not Afrikaans any more, but Chinese and English. We have also grown used to the hot, humid summers and cold winters. When given a knife and fork, we swap them for chopsticks, and we drink warm water, even in summer.


This is our last year in China, but we have learned so much and created so many memories.


I end this letter by saying: “Pack your bags and discover the world. There is so much out there to see and learn. You may find yourself in Asia, South America or Europe, but your heart will still be in Africa.”


Zàjiàn (my name in Chinese)

Sanja-Rika Venter


(Letter shortened.)



The NWU & U


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