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School Year

This story is a part of a series

School Year

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Tandie Nkosi, a senior at the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT), is ready to go to her prom.

Credit:

Anders Kelto

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    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.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    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.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    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.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    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.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    After saving up 30 dollars by selling chocolate at school – which technically violated school rules – Tandie visited a hair salon in a local mall. Her stylist put her hair into tight braids.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    The hairdresser then sewed a weave – a shoulder length hairpiece – into her braids. This was the first time Tandie had ever seen herself with long hair. She was thrilled.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    On prom night, Tandie put on make-up and lipstick for the first time. Her mother struggled to glue her fake eyelashes into place – she had never done it before.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    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.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    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.

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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    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.”

    Credit:

    Anders Kelto

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.