On Monday 14 September 2015, the Academy was filled with colour, vibrancy and music as we officially welcomed members of the Class of 2015 at the Annual Academy Opening Ceremony – Taalaw. The 97 young leaders in our eighth class are drawn from 32 countries across Africa. We are especially delighted to welcome our first Libyan young leader, bringing the number of African countries in our network to 45. These young leaders were selected for their leadership potential; for being young people with the attitude, aptitude and passion to drive catalytic change on the African continent and fulfil the Academy’s vision.
This year’s Taalaw address was delivered by Mr Diego Ontaneda at ALA. Mr Ontaneda spoke about how he left his native Peru at the age of 19 to pursue further studies in the United States. This mirrors the journey that most of the Academy’s young leaders have themselves taken in leaving their respective home countries to start a lifelong journey with the Academy. Mr Ontaneda challenged members of the incoming class to author their own destinies and not be afraid to step out their comfort zones and risk potential failure. “I hope that you will be uncomfortable, I hope that you will be scared. I hope that you will be wrong and I hope that you will fail,” said Mr Ontaneda. He encouraged students to seize the many opportunities that they will be presented with at the Academy, even if in doing so, they may be taking a huge risk or stepping into the unknown.
The ceremony included the very moving and entertaining Parade of Nations, an Academy tradition of greeting where incoming students from each country are welcomed by existing members of the ALA community who are from the same country. The day’s festivities concluded with a drumming workshop facilitated by Drum & Rhythm.
The entire ceremony can be viewed here.