My Work-Integrated Learning Experience at the Shark Education Centre

By Buhle Fanaphi, 27th October 2020

I have always been an ambitious, passionate and inquisitive young lady who’s always keen to learn new things. Coming from a disadvantaged background sometimes limits one’s opportunities in life. However, being eager and having the potential to find anything interesting and innovative builds one’s knowledge. Back in my high school days, it was all about getting good grades. I was one of the students at my high school who was regarded as a hard worker, as I believe that hard work pays off. My senior subject choices were physical science, life science, mathematics and geography.  The subjects were fascinating because they were challenging, thought-provoking and able to be applied in everyday life. When I was in grade 11, I was introduced to a programme that changed my life.

Buhle with shark jaws © SOSF Shark Education Centre

The programme was run by SAEON (South African Environmental Observation Network), which was aimed at exposing students to environmental and marine issues and practises. During the programme, I attended a whole lot of learning activities, workshops, camps and debates. It was amazing, I fell in love with it! I participated in various marine activities as well. This was the first time I had the opportunity to learn about the marine environment. I was fascinated because I was continually discovering new things about the ocean and the animals that live beneath the water’s surface. My interest in marine biology was quite surprising because I never knew that people actually study what’s in the ocean.

Interacting with guests © SOSF Shark Education Centre

I decided that when I finish high school, I would study marine science at university of technology as I wanted to pursue my passion in this field. Imagine coming from a disadvantaged background and wanting to pursue a career in marine studies, imagine the outcomes. Big dreams are exciting, right?

In 2016, I enrolled in a marine science diploma course at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, I was so excited! Well, the work at university is not easy but I’m getting used to it and it’s all part of the learning curve. Now, I am in my final year of undergraduate studies and partaking in the work-integrated learning (WIL) component. This allows students to get hands-on experience of the working environment by fulfilling temporary placements at environmental organisations.

Collecting nurdles © SOSF Shark Education Centre

I have had the honour and joy of joining Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre as an intern. I consider myself lucky to be here as I am learning a lot. The centre has allowed me to explore my interest in marine education and has taught me a lot about sharks. I am learning how to educate children and engage with them. The amount of passion the staff put into their work and quality of knowledge at the Shark Education Centre has been inspirational. They have a lot of amazing activities for kids and allow children to explore the marine environment in a fun and informative way. I have gained a new experience.


So, what is next for me? Well, I am planning on studying further and want to eventually complete a master of science degree in marine biology at university.  My primary goal is to one day be in a position to give back to my community by opening an education centre and deliver environmental education to disadvantaged learners. I aspire to use my influence as a black woman to inspire black children to explore the natural environment.

Buhle taking a guided tour © SOSF Shark Education Centre