Mathomo Jackson: Bridge House School (2018), Munich Business School Student
Posted: 22 May 2023
Mathomo Jackson graduated from Bridge House School in Franschhoek, South Africa in 2018. He credits his Round Square experiences with giving him the desire to step outside his comfort zone and with encouraging the traits of character that have allowed him to do so successfully.
Mathomo was born in Johannesburg and started school there but moved to the picturesque wine country town of Franschhoek, in the Western Cape when he was twelve. He attended Bridge House from Grades 6 through 12 before enrolling in a Bachelor of Commerce degree focusing on brand management at the VEGA Institute in Cape Town. He’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Business at the Munich Business School in Germany.
“Engaging with RS throughout my time at Bridge House also allowed me to build both international and local community connections. I’ve got a network of friends around the world.”
Mathomo’s first RS experience occurred at the start of his Grade 9 year when he and his fellow delegates headed off to a conference hosted by Stanford Lake College in the northern Limpopo Province.
“I remember we spent the service day at a local school. We were laying bricks and it was incredibly hot. Adventure Day involved all kinds of things I’d never done before, like ziplining.” Like the other students participating, Mathomo enjoyed the element of challenge he found at this conference.
The following year, Mathomo applied to attend the RSIC. The conference was split between Aiglon College in Switzerland and Louisenlund in northern Germany. Mathomo took part in a pre-conference trip to the Black Forest organized by Schule Birklehof before travelling north to the shores of the Baltic.
“I remember the workshops involving problem solving and discussions about leadership. It was remarkable because the whole thing was run by the Louisenlund students. It was also a bit of a reunion because one of the German boys had been on exchange at Bridge House. It was wonderful to reconnect in a different part of the world. The conference was a great experience. I remember sailing and making so many friends, and I’ve kept in touch with them. In fact, one of them lives in Munich where I am now, and she is a dear friend.”
The RSIC was the first time that Mathomo had realised that Round Square was so international and multicultural.
“It was amazing and so beneficial. It changed my view of the world and made me determined to get out and explore. It made me curious to learn more about different cultures.”
Mathomo put his new discoveries into action immediately by spending a term on exchange at The Athenian School in California. Athenian was one of the six founder schools of Round Square.
“I learned a lot and made so many new friends. Exchange is an experience I’d recommend to any student.”
The culmination of Mathomo’s Round Square experiences occurred when Bridge House School joined St. Cyprians School and St. Georges Grammar School in Cape Town in hosting the RSIC in 2018. Over 1000 delegates attended the opening at the convention centre in Cape Town before heading out to one of the three schools for several days of activities. Mathomo was on the organising committee and served as the Crew Liaison. He would check in with all the student group leaders and help them troubleshoot any issues that arose. He would check on the well-being of the students, make sure the workshops were going well, help with the set-up of food and beverage, and make sure students got on the correct buses.
“Perhaps the most enjoyable part was having student delegates to stay at my home. There were several other Bridge House students living in the same development, so we were able to hang out as a large multicultural group. It was cool.”
Mathomo credits his Round Square activities with teaching him about diversity and making him realise how every culture looks at the world through a different lens.
“Round Square taught me to think globally. I realised that this was a unique feature of a Round Square school like Bridge House. Students who attend other schools just don’t get the same kind of opportunities. Round Square has shaped me. There’s a world out there and I want to explore it. It’s part of the reason that I’m doing my Master’s in Germany and after graduation, I want to go and live somewhere else. Maybe the US, because I have a US passport, but maybe London or Zurich, and I still have a love for Germany.”
Mathomo realizes that Bridge House like other Round Square schools aims to teach more than just skills and content.
“I think the philosophy Round Square schools have is fantastic. It showed me that there were so many ways that I could learn, not just in the classroom. I like the way that I was able to progress from a South African Conference to an International event and then help to design and run our own RSIC.”
Mathomo believes that he developed important traits of character while at Bridge House.
“I learned a lot by participating in the Duke of Edinburgh program at the school. Achieving the bronze level was a pre-requisite for applying to go on exchange. I knew that I needed to step outside my comfort zone, so I learned a bit about courage and my self-confidence got a boost. I also realised that compassion is an important part of anything you do.”
In his reflections on how he was encouraged to challenge himself at school, Mathomo shared that through his work in the local school he became aware of very different challenges that children in his neighbourhood were confronted with each day.
“We took part in an ongoing service activity where we would visit a local school and bring lunch that we had made for the students. I realised that some of these children didn’t have the most supportive parenting and were facing challenges I’d never even thought about. It made it crystal clear what a privileged life my fellow Bridge House students and I lived. It forced us to confront the fact that social injustice exists close to home.”
Asked what advice he would have for students currently at Round Square schools, Mathomo looked thoughtful.
“I would say take advantage of all that you are offered by your school whether that is service opportunities, or the chance to go on exchange, or to a conference. You will come out the end realising how thankful you are that you made the effort. Also, work hard at building and keeping a network of friends both from your home nation and from different cultures, like my friend here in Munich who I met at RSIC. I cherish her friendship.”
Mathomo credits his Round Square experience with giving him the broader perspective that has made him seek out new experiences. He also identifies the effort his school made in helping him develop the character traits that have helped form the person he is today. He concludes our conversation with the ultimate compliment.
“I’d like to say that if I ever have children, I’ll definitely try and send them to a Round Square school.”