Posted November 27, 2020
Nkanyiso Maphumulo’s quest for higher learning has brought him 14,000 km away from home – amid a global pandemic and without his family – to Trinity College.
Nkanyiso is an ordained Anglican priest in the Diocese of Zululand, South Africa. For the last ten years, he has served as parish rector in three parishes. He hold a master’s degree in theology, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from the University of KwaZulu Natal and diploma in theology from The College of Transfiguration (a Southern African Anglican seminary). He is currently enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College, and is the first year rep for the Divinity Class Executive 2020-2021. He is grateful for the financial support from benefactors, allowing him to continue his academic journey: St. Augustine Foundation (an Anglican Charity organization based in the U.K.), Trinity College, Diocese of Zululand (through Mdolomba Education Fund), Anglican Church of Southern Africa – education fund, and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust.
When travel restrictions are lifted, he hopes to be reunited with his family – his wife Phindile and their four children: a son (Thanda), and three daughters (Kuya, Mesuli, and Nonkanyiso). His youngest, Nonkanyiso, was born two weeks after the start of the academic year, so he has yet to meet her in person. Until then, video calls are his lifeline to what he holds closest to his heart.
We sat down (virtually) with Nkanyiso to learn about his decision to travel half way around the world to study at Trinity and what life is like living in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trinity College (TC): Can you tell me about your journey to study at Trinity?
Nkanyiso Maphumulo (NM): While I was a student at The College of Transfiguration, I participated in an exchange program in 2010. The program was only three months – I guess I wanted more. Since that short sting, I’ve always cherished the idea of returning to U of T to further my studies. When the opportunity presented itself this year, I grabbed it with both hands despite the global challenge of the corona pandemic.
TC: Was it a difficult decision to travel here during the COVID-19 pandemic?
NM: The decision to come during this time was difficult in many levels. Firstly, there was the difficult issue of leaving my family behind, following the rejection of the family visa application. On top of that, when I left, my wife who was pregnant was due to deliver soon. Furthermore, there was an issue of the pandemic. Despite all that, a decision was taken, after a long discussion as a family, that I should not let this opportunity pass by. But, it is difficult, I miss them everyday.
TC: What was your experience when you first arrived in Toronto?
NM: When I arrived in Toronto, I had to quarantine for 14 days as per the immigration regulation. The longest two weeks of isolation I have ever participated in. This, coming from South Africa, a communal society, was challenging at first. However, it help that I am a bit of an introvert, okay maybe too much of an introvert. Furthermore, the facility had access to internet, so I was able to be in contact with my family.
The reality hit me after the quarantine. The city of Toronto was not the Toronto that I encountered ten years ago – buzzing with excitement and interaction. This time, people are more conscious of the required special distance, and there is a sense of fear on people’s faces.
TC: How is your first term going?
NM: The term is much faster than what I’m used to. I can say I am doing my best to keep up with the pace, although there is still room for improvement there. Otherwise, I’m doing okay, so I like to think. Online learning is challenging, I think both students and professors are in the process of adapting to this “new normal” of teaching and learning. Seating in front of the laptop screen for back-to-back classes can be very daunting.
TC: Have been able to enjoy the city (physically distanced, of course)?
NM: A walk to the park or down-town is what I do normally. But with temperature dropping, those have been significantly cut down.
TC: What are your future plans?
NM: I’m hoping to be here longer as I continue, God willingly, into my PhD studies.
TC: Since the start of the pandemic, what has been…
…the one thing that you look forward to every day/week?
…the one thing that you dread to do every day/week?
NM: Going out
…your most surprising moment?
NM: I am surprised how tiring zoom actually is
…the thing you miss the most?
NM: Human interaction
…the best way for you to stay/feel connected with others?
NM: Video calling
…your most memorable technology fail or success?
NM: My first day of class, I had no idea what Quercus was
…the one thing you enjoy the most about working remotely?
NM: I don’t have to leave my room to be in class
…the one thing you enjoy the least about working remotely?
NM: Lack of physical interaction with class mates
…your new-found hobby or activity?
…the last show/series you binge-watched?
NM: Last Kingdom
…the show/series/movie/book you recommend to others?
NM: Cobra Kai
…the thing you can now not live without?
…the thing that brings you the most joy and happiness?
NM: Video calling my wife and my kids back home
…the first thing you will do when physical-distancing restriction are lifted and/or when the pandemic is over?
NM: Hopefully reunited with my family
…the best lesson or thing you learned that you will continue post-pandemic?
NM: Life is too short – enjoy every moment!