Not even challenges such a severe winds damaging stages and malfunctioning online sales systems could dampen the spirits at Vensters 2019, the annual street event held on the campus of Stellenbosch University on Friday night (1 February).
Although some performances had to be stopped for long periods of the evening to reconstruct stages that had been damaged by the strong winds, newcomer students still managed to capture the imaginations of some 15 000 visitors with their energetic open air dance and music performances on the stages across the campus. The magic created by the evening's joyful and fairylike atmosphere will surely live on in the memories of everyone who attended.
Judged by the many laughs shared by students, families, community members and even visitors from out of town, tapping toes and big smiles, Vensters 2019 simply rocked. The streets were full of people and energy. Every performance was welcomed with cheers and the crowd couldn't help but dance along. “I think the first years had just as much fun as the viewers," says Kelly Shepherd, Communication Officer of the Connect who organised the Vensters event.
They were really happy with how the event turned out despite the challenges. “The marching band created an exciting and joyful atmosphere as they paraded the streets. Visitors really enjoyed the Food Walk. It looked beautiful, trees and stalls draped in fairy-lights, the air filled with delicious smells and giant VENSTERS letters completing the scene and finding their way into many visitors' selfies. It was great to see people coming together to make a difference by buying their tickets and informing themselves on social issues. Around 15 000 tickets were sold but we are still waiting on the exact number."
Various entertainers such as flame-throwers, jugglers and the Maties Ballroom and Latin American Dance Society (MBLDS) performed along the Food Walk during the event, adding to the festive atmosphere.
The efforts of Vensters partners Hippokrates Residence, based on the Tygerberg campus, and the Silene Private Student Organisation paid off when their performance was named as the winner of Vensters 2019.
Cailin Perrie, chairperson of Connect, described Vensters as one of the most incredible experiences to be a part of. “It is always so humbling to see just how many students, organisations, faculty members and families are so willing to devote time and energy to something when the outcome enables the betterment of someone else's life. This year, Vensters encapsulated all that is community engagement, social upliftment and student involvement and I am proud to have been able to be a part of it," said Perrie.
Connect functions within the Centre for Student Leadership and Structures and is connected to the sustainable development goals of SU's Centenary marking in 2018. According to Perrie, the organisation's main aim is to help students be more aware of the social impact they can have whilst engaging in student activities on campus.
Perrie said, “Connect wishes to make the SU campus more inclusive and accessible to everyone. By connecting the Social Impact projects with Vensters, students become more conscious of their environment and a community-based partnership is created."
All event proceeds covered costs and profits will be divided among residences to go towards their social impact funds and be used for their own outreach initiatives.