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2010 built upon AAF’s “Pay It Forward” model with the implementation of a Leadership Academy for secondary students. A pilot program held in March brought fourteen of our graduates from Kenya and Tanzania together to dream big and set goals. Based upon the students’ enthusiasm for the program and the transformations witnessed over the week, we inaugurated a full scale Leadership Academy in December. Fifty-three scholarship students participated, with the graduates from March’s session serving as peer mentors.
The Leadership Academy served two significant purposes. First, students assessed their passions and talents as they dreamed big and started to view themselves as leaders in their communities. Secondly, students formed a strong identity as part of the AAF alumni network, forming friendships across borders and specific plans on how they can help each other achieve goals.
The initial core concept of developing the Leadership Academy’s sessions was for students to dream big and establish a plan to achieve their dreams. For students so familiar with focusing on everyday survival, dreaming about the future was an unfamiliar exercise. Program Managers and peer mentors incorporated personal stories, group exercises and individual assignments to get students thinking beyond the realities of today, to the possibilities of tomorrow. Once the dreams were established, the group worked on breaking down their audacious goals into step-by-step (kidogo-kidogo) plans.
The second concept of establishing supportive relationships grew as the week progressed. Arriving on Sunday after a long day of traveling, students were shy and reserved. Monday evening, and whispers were heard. By Tuesday, the conversations were loud and the laughter contagious. Students danced and sang like old friends during the outing for nyama choma (barbecue) on Wednesday.
When the students left on Friday, deep bonds were formed and numbers were exchanged.
Career, social and health-related topics were also interspersed among the goal-focused sessions. Students attended four different career workshops conducted by local professionals. Local NGOs presented life skills development on domestic violence and AIDS awareness in innovative formats that engaged students and transformed their perspectives.
As these students prepared to graduate, many were struggling with what comes next. Little guidance had been provided on how to use the education they had worked so hard to earn. The Leadership Academy provided direction, empowering them to transition from being students to becoming community leaders.
How Can You Help?
By making a tax-deductible contribution you will help provide one of our young scholars with the opportunity to go to camp where they will learn new skills and meet new people. 150$ will send a student to Leadership Academy. Can you help us make it happen for 84 students? Donate now!