Tag Archives: youth

Competition for English

Community engagement can come in various forms.  Service is one of the best ways internationalesawyer engages with the community.  Service is a vast domain and can include simple participation in town hall meetings, or formally serving on a board.  Recently internationalesawyer was asked to serve as an expert panel judge for an English competition among university students at CFPEM International located in Ouagadougou.  This is not the first time that internationalesawyer has partnered with this university.  In the past the director of the school approached internationalesawyer to be a monthly guest lecturer to business students. The objective there was to give lectures in English and organize career counseling (i.e. practice interviews) to students in fields such as accounting.

When approached to be a judge for the English competition, there was only one answer…YES! The competition included an essay and oral presentation in which competing students from CFPEM were given topics that ranged from improving the school system in Burkina Faso to the current epidemic of Ebola affecting West Africa.  As one of the 3 judges, we made the rules and criteria. The 7 candidates all had 5 minutes to present their topic, and then 1 min 30 seconds for each question.  The candidates were scored on criteria that included grammar, verbal and non-verbal communication, and dress.  This was no easy competition as the stakes were high.  Some of the prizes included scholarship money, tablets, and even a laptop.  For all the candidates English is either their third or fourth language. In some cases the fifth language they speak.  To write a 3-5 page essay on serious topics such as youth employment and healthcare is no easy feat.  The candidates all gave their very best effort which showed in the scores.  However, the judging was not easy as well.  We were objective as possible and what made it easier to be objective we did not have prior contact with the candidates. All the judges knew was their essay by number.

The English competition was held on a Friday October 10th.  The results were strategically released at graduation the following day.  Out of the 7 candidates the first 5 took home prizes.  Nevertheless, those who did not win a physical prize, still won as they gained experience in oral presentation, essay writing, and the spirit of competing.

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Camp of the people by the people

ImageA great association which I had the pleasure to work with briefly last August 2011 approached me to help them launch a camp for teenagers.  This concept of the camp is created by the Association of Jeunesse en Mouvement. They are a local NGO that specializes in youth and mobilizing youth and communities.  Last year they started a pilot program in which they had Burkinabé and French volunteers run a camp in a village 1 hour and 30 minutes from Ouagadougou.  They invited me to watch, participate, and contribute ideas.  The camp was with primary school students boys and girls between the ages of 7-12.  Students had lesson in the morning from 8 am – 12 pm. While in class they learned the phonics of French, math, and science.  From 12- 2 pm there would be the break for lunch and rest.  2:30 – 5 pm there would be outdoor games that promoted teamwork, and imagination.  From 5- 7:30 pm there was the dinner and break. At 7:45 pm until 10 pm at night the students and the volunteers would do cultural exchanges showing dances, and singing songs from french and burkinabé culture. Since I was the only American I of course did an exchange of American folk songs and primary school games. During the evening sessions there would also be the playing of instruments, and exchange of folklore.  The kids were never tired and loved participating.  This was a big step for this village as typically children are sent to help out in the farms during the summer.  They have to help their families cultivate as what they farm is what they live off of.  For a village to allow their children the future of the country participate in enrichment and extra curriculum activities is a great example of how Africans are ready to make the change and invest.

This June the founder of Association of Jeuness Gaspard Ouédrogou asked me to help him launch the same summer camp, however targeting teenagers between 14-19.  I quickly accepted.  The summer camp will provide only topics and activities the community identified as a need to have.  Therefore, the teens will participate in tree plantings, health awareness campaigns, and classes.  With my experience with youth, Gaspard told me that he could not think of any one better to help with this initiative.  My first task is to recruit girls and boys to participate.  The camp is from August 2- 17 2012 In the following locations Basnéré, Dahisma, Tangassogo, and Niangado.  These are all villages of Kaya (a city 1 hour 30 mins from Ouagadougou.

Thank you Gaspard for the invite.

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