Towards the end of the first year, ALA students were asked to reflect on their first year at the Academy. This class exercise involved identifying their most memorable moment in the school year and writing a one-page report on this experience. The subject matter varied widely, from ice-skating for the first time to preparing for student government elections. The excerpts below were taken from some of the papers submitted by our students. The experiences are as diverse as the ALA community and demonstrate the opportunities, challenges and adventures that our students have had over the past year.
Coming to ALA was a dawn of a totally new chapter in my life: A new school, new faces and a new environment. I found it quite difficult to adjust at first but the wonderful ALA community managed to embrace me into the ALA family. Now I feel like a proud member of the family and I’m very attached and absorbed into the new system. Despite my experiences being limited to ten months, it seems that a lasting bond has already been established.
Ngoni Chihombori – Zimbabwe
My first year at the Academy has been marvelous and worthwhile. I have been equipped with skills that will permit me to face the world courageously. The experiences and exposure have been many. The grand opening was a monumental event in my life at ALA and the epoch of my presentation skills. I discovered something about myself which has shaped the way I think. My speech started with my vision of the future which was followed by an account of my experiences thus far, my aspirations and hopes for the future. It told the crowd who I was and it carried my deepest goals and dreams. In those moments as I delivered my speech, I felt a reassurance of possibility and an affirmation of possibility. As I left the podium, I felt like a dignitary as the applause from the crowd was thunderous. As I returned to my seat, I remembered how nervous I had been and felt so silly. I was happy because I had made my teachers, friends and family proud.
Mbong Madelle Kangha – Cameroon
ALA has changed the course of my life. Never had I thought that one day I would speak English fluently, nor had I ever imagined that I would be able to write an essay in this language. If I hadn’t had the support of the wonderful people of ALA, I would probably have given up this challenge of learning a new language in a totally different environment from the one I was used to. Ms. Bineta’s encouragement to the Francophones in the first weeks of my time at ALA contributed to a positive year at the Academy.
Abderahmane Sow – Senegal
The discussions were indeed a perfect way to start the two year journey. This was more or less like an orientation, I seized every opportunity I could to familiarize myself with the students in our small groups as I knew that this would mark the start towards getting to know more students. Each time I made efforts to be friend the rest of the students I was made confident by the fact that they were trying as much as I was to reach out to the rest of the student body.
Brian Kalugira – Uganda
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA): the component present in each cell within me and responsible for my every inherited feature was now staring right at me. My breath weakened as enlightenment fell upon me. I had always loved biology and only recently developed a passion for genetics, but being intimate with the subject for the first time gave me a whole perspective on the endless possibilities that await me in this field of biology.
Kylie Marais — South Africa
This year has been a tremendous and a memorable adventure. I’ve learned so much from the richly diverse students, our outstanding innovative faculty, our unique Leadership & entrepreneurship curriculum and the unique exposure to influential world leaders. I look forward to everyday in ALA with curiosity and an open mind.
Benjamin Munyano — Kenya
“Belinda, SABC just called and they want a live morning interview with you. I told them you would be ready by tomorrow. Is that ok?” Is that ok? How was I to say no? “Oh no Mr Swaniker Sir, I have serious stage fright, not to mention TV phobia.” I agreed, and said in typical ALA manner. “ Sure I’ll do it! It will be fun.” The interview went much better than what I had anticipated and it really was a lot of fun! After the interview, the presenter, Vuyo Mbuli, asked “Belinda, was that you first time on TV?” When I said yes he nodded his head looking very impressed. “You got talent kid; that was very, very impressive.” The experience of facing my greatest fear led to a new level of confidence.