Tag Archives: graduation

Hosting Development

On my previous post “Finding my way through Service” (on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140917151341-42414239-finding-my-way-through-service?trk=mp-reader-card) a reader commented and his comments again brought me to reflection.  His comments were centered around the fact that my time abroad working/ volunteering has not helped anyone except me.  The reader discussed his interactions with Peace Corps volunteers over the past several years; and how he did not see much good or development coming out of such organizations.  I reminded the reader that development is not always tangible. Development can occur with knowledge and resource sharing.  Human resources are often overlooked when we think about development.  Nonetheless, his comments made me reflect if there has been an impact due to my presence in the developing country in which I reside (Burkina Faso).  As it turns out I didn’t have to look nor reflect so far or so long before the answer surfaced.

Many of you may not know, but usually when Peace Volunteers enter into a country, we are placed with host families.  These families are an important if not obligatory part of the program.  The host families help integrate the volunteer, and serves as a support among other things.  In my situation I forged a great and lasting relationship with my host family.  We shared many great and some sad experiences together.  However, the most remarkable of my time with the host family were the days and nights we were able to have “causerie” (chats/ dialogue).  It was during that time that I shared my experiences of school, and forging through tough times in my education.  It was during that time that my host brothers and sisters shared their frustrations with the education system in Burkina. It was during that time that we shared notes on similar life experiences as a student.  It was during that time in which we learned from one another.  However, I think what was most remarkable to them was the will I showed to be successful in the harsh conditions.  To endure a heat that was unimaginable to me, along with all the other uncertainties was something that stuck in their minds.  There was one host brother at the time who was not in school and was trying to make his way working.  I had many conversations with him regarding education and its importance.  I listened to him as he reminisced about being in school when he was younger.  I had no idea the impact our conversations would have on him in the near future.

About a year and a half ago, the same host brother that was out of school called me saying that he saw me on television presenting graduation diplomas.  The university is called CFPREM International and I was asked to be a visiting professor/ collaborator where I perform different activities such as judging English competitions, providing career counseling, and lecture.  Based on what my host brother saw on television, he went to the university and there he saw a photo of me with some of the professors.  He did his research on the different programs and eventually enrolled.  On October 11 I was asked to once again present diplomas at the CFPREM International graduation.  When I arrived I saw my host brother dressed in his graduation regalia.  But what I didn’t know was that he was not just a regular student graduating.  It was during the course of the graduation ceremony that I learned that my host brother was not only the class president, but also valedictorian.  He graduated at the top of his class, and won so many awards that at one point when the announcer called his name he was shocked that it was him again.  He received a scholarship to continue his studies, and an offer of employment.  He later told me as we were taking photos that our conversations served as an inspiration. He stated that no one else spoke to him about the real importance of education. Lastly, he stated that sharing my experiences of also struggling as a student in America helped him realize you can still be successful even in the face of challenges.  All he needed was a push, a story different but same as his own, and a physical example plus his will.

When I think about development, and especially my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer, it is the human relationships that come to mind.  Unwittingly my presence in this country has put a lasting effect on someone and many others just as they have put a lasting effect on me.  What my host brother has gained is beyond development as he can start to break a generational cycle of poverty.  The implications of his actions will be felt for generations to come.IMG_0297IMG_0294 IMG_0289 IMG_0286

English leading to bright new futures!

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Once a month I am invited to have leadership discussions with university students in English (Burkina Faso is a Francophone country).  The school’s dean invited me so that the students can have extra time practicing their English with a native speaker, and getting used to the American English accent.  Moreover, the dean sought out someone who had interest in education, leadership, and international affairs.  When I was invited to provide these services I was delighted.  April makes the 4th month in which Internationale sawyer and the International Formation of Bilingual Professionals University have had this partnership.  Furthermore, on March 16, 2013, I was invited to their graduation ceremony here in Ouagadougou.  In addition to attending I was given the honor of presenting an award to a distinguished teacher.  This was my first university graduation ceremony here on the continent of Africa. What made it more impressive were all the graduating students started with little to no English; and all of them took their well -deserved diplomas with full proficiency in English.  One aspect of the graduation that I noted was all the students that gave speeches were deeply moved. They all cited God, family, and the extreme hardships of obtaining a college diploma.  They battled illness, injustice, gender inequality from within their own family, poverty, and financial instability.  I couldn’t help but to reflect on my own college graduation, some of those same emotions were shared.  One key difference was these graduates fought for their right to education, while some in other parts of the world mistreat education and take that right for granted. I guess this is because our ancestors already did the hard part, while these present day students are still in the period of civil rights.

Eventful Hiatus

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The last time I wrote on my blog it was over a month ago.   I did not forget about it, nor did I abandon the visitors to my blog.  However, while taking one of my online classes in Leadership, I read that many entrepreneurs in our current virtual world spend more than half their time online.  Thereby they neglect and forget about the importance of real life networking and relationships.  I know the online community is very helpful and easy to access; however, I did not want to be the social entrepreneur that lacks the real life connections.  These past several weeks I have used the time to participate and engage in many activities online and off.  Below is the Cliff notes version:

  • Invited to a university  graduation
  • Applied for 2 social action grants
  • Made a television appearance
  • Became a Board Member
  • Invited to a multi-million signing contract
  • Delivered English learning classes
  • Assisted in the structural formation of Springboard for Higher Education
  • WanPot LLC logo design
  • A lot of reading and posting interesting information.
  • Online volunteering and extensive online researching