In April 2015, African Leadership Academy launched its Catalyst Term program, offering an opportunity to extend its global offerings to a select group of students from abroad. Meet Colette Campbell, one of the lucky ones…
‘The biggest memory maker is the people. The community that ALA has created, and the amount of love people have for each other is amazing. I’ve never formed such a strong bond with such a large group of people before.’
Seventeen-year-old Colette Campbell hails from rainy, seaport city of Seattle in Washington, USA. “It’s built around several lakes and an ocean, so it’s cold and rainy,” she reveals. It’s a hot, sunny day on ALA’s campus, and the difference in her description of her hometown is remarkable. “Adapting to the physical environment here – the heat and the time zones – physical things, are most difficult because there’s nothing you can do to change them,” she shrugs philosophically.
Having lived in Seattle her whole life, coming to ALA has proven a huge adaptation – but one Colette has taken in her stride. “I come from a liberal place, butI’ve never been exposed to such a range of opinions on everything from gay rights, racial disparities… I’ve encountered a broad range of different beliefs that I’d never been exposed to before, and I’ve never met so many people whose opinions are very different from mine,” she adds.
A grade 11 student at Lakeside High, Colette first heard of African Leadership Academy at school. “They encourage juniors to study abroad, and this is one of the programs they highlighted that I liked. I like the idea that the school represents: kids who want to change the future – and I thought it would be a cool environment, as it was far away from home and therefore most different. I felt I could immerse myself in this environment.”
Colette’s dad, Christopher, encouraged her to take the opportunity to apply for a Catalyst Term at ALA. “I think my parents are my biggest inspiration. One of the reasons I was willing to come here was because they’re the type of people that would come here: they have a strong sense of adventure. They’re also hard workers, and huge role models. Both are Professors at University in Washington – my dad Christopher is in urban planning, and my mum Tessa in social work. We’re a close, tightknit family. I have one older brother, Ronan, who’s 21 and at college in New York. They have mixed emotions about my being here: they’re worried and excited for me, and understood why I was going which helps, as they are a great support system.”
Colette is a keen rower, who loves history, writing and is keen on increasing her exposure to culture, places and people. “I journal every day, and I run a lot, and play volleyball – I’m not into competitive sports.” Her childhood ambition – of becoming a doctor – has not changed, but been given a sharper focus. “I want to be work in gynaecology in undeprivileged communities, wherever that is in the world.
That fits with what people here want to do; change the world, and have a positive impact on it. A lot of the things we do in EL (Entrepreneurial Leadership) fits with what I want to do,” she notes.
Colette leaves ALA with a deeper understanding of her mission, and a greater drive to fulfill it, she says. “There is one day in October where we all got to present our EL trajectory maps of what our mission statements are – what we’re working towards – and it was so inspiring to see so many kids our age, our peers and friends, in a different light.
We’re all gonna change the world when we’re older – it was a good reminder of why we’re here. I’m continually inspired by my peers here: the amount of responsibility they have at school, the amount of work they do for others, and what they want to do for other is just so inspiring.
The kids in this country, on this continent are incredible – it’s cool to see so many young kids passionate about where they’re from.”
Though this tenure in South Africa is her first visit to the country, Colette’s no stranger to the continent, having taken a school trip to Tanzania before. “The biggest memory maker is the people. The community that ALA has created, and the amount of love people have for each other is amazing.
I’ve never formed such a strong bond with such a large group of people before. I’m not sure if it’s ALA culture, or country culture, but I do know that being here has definitely given me skills I hadn’t had before. Some I’ve learnt in class, and some outside: like leadership, , public speaking, being a good person. There’s a much larger perspective of the world, especially Africa, here. I really would recommend Catalyst – it teaches you a lot about world; gives you an opportunity to sit in classes you’d never sit in your life – the curriculum is aimed at developing positive and leadership skills, and gives you an opportunity to practice being leaders. It’s fun – I enjoy the house and hall activities, and I really enjoy coming to school here.”
ABOUT CATALYST TERM
The program is aimed students aged 15-19 with a track record of academic excellence and demonstrated interests in social action and the African continent, and for partner schools with a passion for global education. They are immersed in academic, cultural and sporting life at ALA, engaging in ALA’s flagship courses in Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies, and Writing & Rhetoric as well as honors-level elective courses in the sciences, mathematics, and humanities. Students meet and shadow leading entrepreneurs tackling social challenges across South Africa, and participate in every aspect of student life on campus, including competitive sports, extracurricular clubs and more.
Catalyst Term applies throughout the year, within the following term frames:
Catalyst Term 1: September – December (16 weeks)
Catalyst Term 2: January – May (16 weeks)
Extended Term 2: January – June (21 weeks)
Full Year: September – June (40 weeks)
Could you benefit from Catalyst Term – or know of anyone who would? Here’s where to direct them to APPLY NOW.