On the morning of April 1, ten Asante alumni boarded buses home: five were going back to Tanzania and five to villages throughout Kenya. They had just completed their first weekend leadership session in Nairobi.
The basic objectives of the session were:
- To build bonds between students of both countries
- To bring the first group of Asante alumni together and to assist them in setting goals to help achieve their dreams
- To facilitate their roles as youth leaders and role models in their communities
- To create an opportunity to network and support one another in their efforts as youth leaders
Sunday, March 28, 2010, 10 young adults arrived to Nairobi, Kenya. None of the Kenyan alumni had visited the capital city before and none of the Tanzanian alumni had left Tanzania before. Needless to say, everyone was a bit anxious. They were nervous to meet people from other countries. Nervous to participate in a leadership training session! The majority of the alumni were from remote rural areas and do not have access to the modern conveniences such as electricity, plumbing that the host hotel would offer. Not to mention, that this weekend marked the first time most had ever stayed in a hotel.
The facilitators and leaders were anxious too. The possible challenges presented by the weekend were: bringing together young people from different tribes, different countries and different languages. Although the session would be conducted in English, this wouldn’t be easy for non-native speakers.
Over the course of the three days together, we learned, listened, spent time alone, spent time together. We discussed weighty topics like AIDS and drug abuse. We laughed and did funny team building exercises. We had intense discussions about where personal leadership comes from and about the values that guide us. We shared our dreams, our fears, and the challenges on achieving the dream.
We learned how to create and achieve goals. We built a network of new friends who will support the achievement of those goals and dreams. Everyone created their first email accounts and learned how to use Gmail and Yahoo to access messages.
Students shared their responses to the question: “What will you take away from this workshop?”
- I will stop being so shy because it is getting in my way of pursuing my dreams.
- When I fail, it does not have to be the end of everything. It just means I have to step back and create a different path.
- I can make my own decisions, this is my life.
- I need to have more tolerance with others and myself when elders are giving me advice. I need their advice.
- A failure can just be a rock in the road and if I want my dream bad enough I will find away around that roadblock.
- A failure in the moment does not need to be failure in life o Now I can be more accepting of challenges because I have a few ideas on how to take them on.
- I learned what pizza tastes like.
- Until this week I have just existed doing what elders told me. Now I can have my own dream and get started living my own life.
- I am going to go home and share this knowledge with my younger siblings and practice being a leader in my family.
- I now know that difficulties will come. They can stop me or I can learn from them and I can move past them.
- I know that I can be a leader in my community (Maasai) and I can have voice in stopping circumcision with a single knife (prevention of AIDS).
- Going to a new country has showed me that we are all alike and we all have the same fears and hopes
- I now have new friends that I can call on to help me when I get stuck.
- I now need to give back to the other student around me since Asante Africa has done this for me.
- I loved watching Slumdog Millionaire and learning that other countries have the same challenges that we do (an evening activity).
By the morning of our departure, everyone was excited, exhausted and ready to tackle the world with renewed confidence and new plans. Over the three days, team leaders saw remarkable changes in many of the alumni. They are excited to bring similar workshops to all Asante scholars, using these 10 participants as mentors and facilitators.
This workshop was made possible through the donations of “Student Leadership Challenge” learning materials and teaching aids from Sonoma Leadership Systems and Wiley Publishing. Asante Africa Foundation is grateful for the generosity of our corporate sponsors. You are helping us to change lives, one student at a time.