After years of anticipation, African Leadership Academy commenced its Grand Opening Celebration in the presence of students, faculty, staff, and more than 100 invited guests from around the world.
Supporters gathered on the ALA campus to experience “A Day in the Life” of an ALA student, and each guest shadowed an ALA student for a full day of activities. Guests sat in on classes, enjoyed student presentations, and learned about special projects that students have initiated under the guidance of our Leadership and Entrepreneurship faculty.
The on-campus activities helped guests get acquainted with the ALA curriculum, including the Academic Core and our courses in Leadership, Entrepreneurship and African studies. Those who attended Mr. Scudder’s biology class even got the opportunity to extract samples of their own DNA! Special breakout sessions were hosted in the afternoon that highlighted students’ work with the Leadership and Entrepreneurship curricula. Student Run Business teams pitched their ideas to a select panel of guests, who evaluated their business plans on the basis of innovative and practical merit. Students also shared their Culminating Projects in a “trade fair” that was held in the Quad.
Throughout the day, several students shared their own personal journeys to African Leadership Academy. Ngozi Cole, a formerly displaced seventeen-year-old citizen of Sierra Leone, was one of the students who shared her story. As a young girl, Ngozi matured quickly when she and her family were forced to flee to the Gambia during her country’s civil war. Ngozi plans to use her experiences and her education to work with children and refugees as a human rights lawyer. “There was a war in my country,” Ngozi said, “and I always prayed that it would never happen again. Here at ALA, I can always look on the future with hope. As a young African leader, what I want to see is peace.”
The day’s events were brought to an end by several student cultural performances and dances as well as a special address by our honorable guest, Mrs. Graça Machel-Mandela. Mrs. Machel asked students to be mindful of both the positive and the negative elements of Africa’s history, and reminded them that Africa’s future was their responsibility. It was a day full of inspiration and encouragement.