In this Peace Parks TV episode, we see a bold and bright picture taking shape on the walls of the SA College for Tourism in Graaff Reinet.  

Stefan Smith, the artist commissioned to bring colour, context and meaning through his murals, is profoundly inspired by what the college does to build new skills and nurture talent. This is empowering students to be able to go forward in life, creating opportunities for themselves. He set out to design a wall-to-wall artwork conveying a sense of excitement and inspiration for the students who are venturing in. “I wanted to create something that would have a sense of the students wanting to feel like “that’s the direction I’m heading in, and that’s what I want to aspire to.”” says Stefan. 

Creativity Unleashed 

His first creative decision was to base his painting concept on the two distinct learning paths that the college guides its students along.  

The one stunning wall depicts SACT’s four tourism pillars which provide the foundation for training in this sector. Of the three women depicted in the mural, Stefan says “I decided that I would have the central figure represent two sides of the hospitality industry – the wellness and housekeeping side. To the right I brought in the chef element and then to the left food and beverage. All three models used here are SACT graduates and represent empowered women doing amazing things in the world.” 

The opposite wall paints a vivid picture of student trackers in the field. Whilst tourism training largely takes place under the college’s roof, the Tracker Academy operates on remote training sites. Mariette Ferreira, Executive Director at SACT says, “The idea behind these art pieces was born from a desire to give the Tracker Academy more of a presence to our campus community.” 

Serving the Self-Sustainability Needs of Southern Africa 

SACT is a non-profit organisation that operates under the auspices of Peace Parks Foundation. 

The College provides professional training to unemployed men and women from impoverished rural backgrounds, to equip them to take up skilled positions in the nature-based tourism industry. In addition to hospitality training, the college offers tracker training through its Tracker Academy, as well as eco-herding skills through the Herding Academy. Graduates are able to return to their communities as entrepreneurs with small tourism businesses, or to work as part of the local eco-tourism industry within or around conservation areas. 

An Inspirational Graduation 

Mariette is particularly excited by the perfect timing of the project. “We can’t wait to share it with our donors and friends who will be visiting the college during our graduation ceremony at the end of November, and for the students who will be graduating – the sense of unity, pride and inspiration it embodies. Also, to showcase the strong women empowerment aspect that we instil in these young students.”  

Visit SA College for Tourism to learn more about and support the inspirational training initiatives underway .