Meet Connor Hoedemaker, our new intern

Energetic, well dressed, eager and curious, ambitious and outspoken, are just some of the adjectives you might use to describe our Connor Hoedemaker. He’s the latest and youngest member of our FunDza family, joining us as an intern after he spent the last year as a Year Beyond volunteer tutor.

We had a chat with him and this is what he had to say…

Who is Connor?
I’m a 21 year-old, living in Mitchell’s Plain. I’m a father to a beautiful 1-year old daughter and I have a burning desire to help people and bring change in their lives, especially the lives of the youth. I’m business-driven and have a keen interest in the media.

Tell us about your journey with Year Beyond and how it led you to FunDza?
I was at Year Beyond as a volunteer tutor, working with learners from different schools, and that’s where I found my passion for young people. I saw their lives and the struggles they were going through, especially when it comes to education. That’s when I learned that my calling is to help them make a better life for themselves. But you can’t do that if you don’t know how to read. This country is facing so many battles and education is neglected. If we’re going to affect the upbringing of our youth then we must start when they are still young and education is the first step. If you are able to read well then you’ll be less frustrated – even at school. And that is the first step to improving young lives. That’s my passion and Year Beyond helped me find it. Now being at FunDza is the next step – God’s way of navigating my path towards that big plan He has for me.

What’s your 5 year plan?
I plan to work on the project my Year Beyond team produced. It’s a game called “Book Attack” – which I’m hoping will be an answer to our literacy crisis. I can see the game taking off and being the next best thing to help combat the literacy levels of this country. I learned that kids want to be stimulated and have fun when they learn; I believe that this innovative project will be just what they need. But I’ll tell you more when the project is off the ground.

And that’s just one of my plans. I’m also into fitness and sports, and I truly believe that not everyone is academically inclined. Kids that love sport and aren’t good with books also need encouragement. Hence I plan to open a gym in my community, a place where kids from different homes and cultures can go, not only for fitness, but also to keep them off the streets.

Even if I get to touch and change the lives of two out of a 100 kids, it will be worth it. These plans are my legacy: what I want to leave behind and be remembered for. Not for personal gain, but to help a better future and country for our youth.  But I’ll let you guys know more very soon.

What’s in your backpack?
A book to read on the bus, my hand sanitiser, my lunch, and my bus gold card.

What are your best reads and what are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. I got it last week and I’m enjoying it. But Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is by far the best book I’ve ever read. I love how he weave his facts into the story, the intrigue and the pace of the book. He kept me interested and I couldn’t put it down. It’s the only book that I read through the night, unable to sleep, because I just had to find out what will happen next.

What three things can you not do/live without?
I can’t live without goals – having a direction. I can’t live without my daughter. And I can’t live without trying to help. That’s what makes me the person I am – that’s my make-up.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I love people, but you know that now. I love culture. I want to go stay in a Zulu village or community, for about six months or a year, learn the language, culture and way of life. I love how diverse we are and we should show that and not shun it and try to be like the rest of the world. We shouldn’t try to be like anyone else; we should aspire be like us – the best us that we can be.

Also, I wear my emotions on my head! If I’m not in a good space, my hair will not look good. And if I’m in a good mood, then my hair will be full of life. I show my emotions through my hair… and you’ll know when I’m having a bad hair day!

If you have one thing to say to the youth, what would it be?

Don’t listen to what the media says about success and how they define it. They mostly focus on Maths and Science and formal education. But, there are many ways to succeed and many ways to measure success. It’s not always what we see in the media.

Connor closes off with: “You might not know me now, but you will know me in a few years’ time.”

[We’re sure we will, Connor, and it’s great having you, your vibrant hair and your bouncy energy in our office! – Ed]