Creating an environment where students are stretched to continually evolve into the people and leaders they want to become, is central to African Leadership Academy’s overall mission. This is facilitated through our curriculum and various programs. Running concurrently with that form of learning is our emphasis on providing unique external learning opportunities for our students that allows them to apply all that they learn in our Honeydew campus, out in the world.
Over the past month, 16 first year students in ALA’s International Relations Council were selected to attend two of the world’s most internationally acclaimed Model United nations simulations; namely, the Harvard Model United Nations that takes place in Boston each year, and the Georgetown University Model United Nations that takes place in Qatar.
ALA students attend these simulations as delegates who put their writing, debating, research and communications skills to work, as a means to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. At Harvard, for example, “delegates will be asked to step into the role of international decision-makers, negotiate on major international crises, and craft innovative policy solutions, together with a staff of over 230 Harvard University undergraduates” reads the Harvard MUN website.
“These conferences provide a great opportunity for students to think in critical ways and to appreciate who they are, in the bigger scheme of things,” says International Relations teacher Maya Schkolne. That is, after their participation, students are able to reflect on what direction they want their careers to take.
The short-term result of their experience often culminates in students applying their learnings in the ALA context, which is usually in the form of how they want to run the flagship ALA Model African Union conference. “They come back with a clearer sense of what they’re interested in, in terms of making a conference fantastic. For example, after our return from Harvard, one student noted the importance of ensuring conference participants are coached and mentored during the experience, and so will be working with the community dynamics team at ALAMAU to ensure that this is done seamlessly.”
One of the biggest realizations students come back with is just how much ALA prepares them for these opportunities. “I am always so proud of ALA students,” says Schkolne. “Despite how intimidating these spaces can be, students always stand tall and are able to put their voices out in a room full of hundreds of people.”
Reflecting on some of the lessons she’s learned, first-year student Siya Hadebe ’19 from South Africa who attended the Harvard MUN says, “HMUN was a unique experience that accelerates growth, fosters good diplomatic relationships and engages with global challenges that are relevant to our world today. The one big lesson that HMUN taught me is the importance of representing Africa fairly and with the dignity, it deserves, especially in International spaces that often overlook and undermine the importance of Africa’s contribution to globalization. HMUN has made me grow as an Africanist outside of Africa and has made my advocacy for this continent reach the world.”
Ultimately, says Schklone, “these external opportunities are part of a bigger process – they are there for students to find a platform and leverage and sharpen their skills in order to apply all their learnings back in the ALA community.”
If you would like to learn more about ALA’s Model Africa Union, visit: