On February 24, 2012 (the day I became a citizen of the United States of America) I founded The Tersia Jonck Music Education Fund to support music education of children ages 6 to 13 at Excelsior Primary School in South Africa. I was taught music notation and piano by my mother Tersia when I was 3 years old and started having music lessons at Excelsior Primary when I was 6. In 1975 Excelsior Primary was a classic apartheid school in Bellville, South Africa, in a middle class all white suburb. I flourished as a young pianist subsequently attending D.F. Malan High School and the University of Stellenbosch - all during the apartheid years. I was active in student politics but had to wait until my final year of university studies to witness the release of Madiba from Robben Island. In 1994 South Africa had its first free elections. By then I was the Chorus Master at the State Theater in Pretoria and my chorus participated in the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings - an event I will never forget and one that felt like the birth of my country. In 1998, my country still merely a toddler, I moved to the United States.
Today at age 23 the country of my birth is living through all the beauty, excitement, Angst - in short, growing pains - we expect from a young adult. It is living with that fact which freedom fighters everywhere know to be true: Freedom is not free - to have it is to understand the price tag it comes with.
My mother Tersia (at the fabulous age of 76) still teaches music at Excelsior Primary. As some of you know, she has tried unsuccessfully to retire twice! She not only teaches piano and music theory, but is the conductor of a successful choir and even more beautifully has embarked on a sing-along class for the entire school. Excelsior looks very different from the school I attended. Today, kids of many races greet my mom at the gate when she arrives for the school day.