12-year-old SA girl heading to New York to talk about positivity in criticism

"People should feel comfortable in their own skin and not take criticism negatively."

These are the words of 12-year-old Ayanda Bokaba who is expected to fly to New York on Wednesday to take part in a TED-Ed weekend - an annual gathering of students from around the world who participate in TED-Ed clubs.

According to Wikipedia, TED Conferences LLC (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organisation that posts talks online for free distribution under the slogan "ideas worth spreading".

Her entry was submitted by the organisation Think Ahead, which works with schools offering support in their 21st-century teaching and learning.

During her talk, the Grade 6 Carlswald Preparatory School pupil is expected to focus on "how criticism affects people's confidence".

She said she was inspired by how people expressed themselves and how these interactions played a role in shaping individuals' confidence.

"With my talk, I want people to use the right type of criticism or change their approach of how they talk to others," Bokaba said.

She was supposed to travel along with Boipelo Moagi, who was going to speak about how to stop racism in private schools. But Moagi has since withdrawn from the talks because it clashes with her matric exams. 

During the event at TED's New York headquarters, all those participating will share inspiring performances, participate in hands-on workshops and attend sessions of TED Talks. 

"I sometimes feel bad when I am criticised but I know how to deal with it and so it doesn't affect me too much anymore. If I am criticised, I try to change the concept from negative to positive," the young girl said.

Nthabiseng Mokoto, Bokaba's mother, said the family was very proud of her.

"I've always known from her days in creche that she would make it this far because she loves performing," she said.

"She is a perfectionist and it always shocks us," she added.

Bubbly character

Mokoto said Ayanda always showed maturity. 

"I remember a time I was sick, and I couldn't wake up the next day to try to get her and her siblings ready for school. When I finally got up, I found that she had already bathed her siblings and she had prepared cereal for them," she said. 

Mokoto added that wherever Ayanda is, her loud voice and "bubbly" character is spotted. 

"She never shuts up and is always talking," she said laughing. 

"To see her blossom like this is scary for me because I've always treated her like my baby. She was born a premature so everything with her was always three steps behind and when she finally caught up she blossomed and she has been doing well," the proud mother said.

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