Tandie Nkosi is a senior at the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT). She’s the vice president of the student council, serves as the school’s choirmaster, and has won several awards for speech and debate.
Tandie’s family lives in a rusty, three-room shack in a township called Lloyd, on the outskirts of Cape Town. When it rains, water leaks through the roof and under the door. She spends much of her time at home cooking and cleaning.
Tandie shares a bedroom with her mother, while her two younger brothers sleep in the kitchen. Tandie has a small homework table set up by her bed, and spends many afternoons and evenings studying there.
Because her family has very little money, Tandie wasn’t sure if she would be able to afford the many costs involved with prom, including getting her hair done. So she and her family spent months saving up money.
Tandie’s mother borrowed a prom dress from a friend, which saved the family a lot of money. Most of Tandie’s classmates spent between 50 and 100 dollars on a dress. Tandie also found some affordable jewelry at a local mall.
Tandie said the allure of prom was the chance to look glamorous for a night, and to get a glimpse of her future self. She said, as a successful lawyer or politician, she wanted to look elegant and sophisticated.
At the prom, Tandie spent the night eating a fancy dinner, giving toasts, and dancing with friends and teachers. She said it felt like a trip to the future. “I’ve seen the woman that I’m going to be when I’m older,” she said. “And it’s beautiful.”
The World is hosting a Facebook chat with COSAT senior Tandie Nkosi and junior Sivenathi Juqu. Ask them about their experiences at school or growing up in the low-income township in South Africa by joining the chat below.