On 29th July, the Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) program kicked off in Accra, Ghana. Akili Dada’s two outstanding Young Changemakers representatives, Phyllis and Yvonne share reflections on the seven-day high-intensity academic and leadership residential program.

Written by Yvonne O.

The day I had anticipated for the most finally arrived. I was very excited, but somehow I felt quite anxious. This is because it was going to be my first time in an aeroplane. I started asking myself many questions: What if I fall down at the airport and my belongings scatter all over the ground? What if I end up screaming in the plane because of turbulence?

At 3:30 AM, we were in the car heading to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Both Phyllis and I checked in. My guardian, Samantha and I headed to terminal 1A where I was supposed to check in. I headed to gate 23 where I was supposed to wait for my flight KQ504 which was intended to take off at 8:45 AM.

Ding! My boarding time reached and there was no sign of boarding any plane. It was then announced that there was a flight delay. We were told to wait for the next update at 9:00 AM. I have never ever been this patient in my sixteen years of living. At 9:30 AM, we were served breakfast since the flight had been cancelled.

Everything happens for a reason. Due to the flight cancellation, we were accommodated at Weston Hotel. I was very excited to have access to the service there. Even though I missed the official introduction of Yale Young African Scholars program and the SAT exams, I still do not regret my stay in Weston Hotel.

Once we got back to the airport scheduling, I boarded my flight. I had a smooth journey to Accra. I thanked God for safe journey mercies. I was picked up at Kotoka International Airport by the YYAS team. We then embarked on our journey to Tema International School, the main venue of the residential program. We found the other students taking lunch, hence I proceed to the next session after unpacking and settling down.

My day ended well with the workshop. I felt like I met my second family. The workshop I was designated had a total of seven scholars. They included my mentor Clevance from Tanzania. It was very encouraging to know that after a long day with a very tight schedule, there is always a family to listen to your reflections.

My first seminar was on African Identity. It was a great session because I learnt a lot about why Europeans call our continent the dark continent. I realized that Africa has a lot to be proud of about Africa, and we should utilize the many natural resources we have in order to develop our continent.

Africa by Africans

My second seminar was on the International Criminal Court. The discussions that arose were very heated. We discussed whether Africa should stay in the International Caucasian Court, commonly referred to by countries which withdrew i.e South Africa, the Gambia and Burundi. As much as it is advisable for African nations to leave the ICC, we came to a conclusion that the ICC has its weaknesses. It should strive to improve in order to act fairly to all the participating countries.

The third seminar was Gender Roles in Africa was also a fight between the girls and boys. The  girls said that the patriarchal greed for power that makes them feel manly make them undermine and mistreat women. The boys insisted that in the fight for equality, women cross their limits and fight men.

The whole Yale Young African Scholars programme was engaging and I would rewind those days if I had the power. I can never forget the last session: the talent show/prom/concert. If I start describing this moment, I might end up crying while writing. I hope to apply the skills in my academics, my community enablement project and my life.

My gratitude goes to Akili Dada for making my dream come true. I only hope that you will continue walking with me and other ambitious scholars through our leadership journey. May you continue to expose us to international academic and leadership programs that not only open our minds, but also enable us to grow both mentally and psychologically. Thank you very much for seeing the potential in me that I never saw in myself. May the Almighty God bless and prosper you.