Ghana is such an interesting and unique country. The first thing that largely stood out for me is the climate. As an East African, I felt the hot weather heavily. Slowly and surely, I am getting used to the humidity. However, it is very hot. If you sleep covered in your blanket, you will wake up drenched in sweat! As the only Kenyan student at ASA, I had to ask my fellow Eastern African student from Ethiopia whether the weather was different from home. She empathized with me about the drastic climatic change
As I steadily get used to Ghanaian culture, the food surely stands out! Every single meal has ‘pepe’ (chilli). Chips, rice, everything. Well, except tea. At first, my taste buds experienced a rude awakening. As the days pass, my palette is slowly adapting and adjusting to the culinary heat.
The African Science Academy teachers are super caring, very interesting, and overall on point! Everyone should have such teachers, because if they did, we would all excel academically. They understand and appreciate the fact that all students learn at a different pace.
Each teacher adjusts to the learning pace of every individual student. “Did you understand?”, “Do you have any questions?”, “Can I be of any assistance?”; these are some of the frequent questions that our teachers ask us in order to ensure that we are at par with our studies.
At ASA, it has been made very clear that time is an essential resource. During orientation, we were given a planner. My planner has helped me intentionally organize my work and utilize every minute to the maximum. It has helped me manage my academic and social plans in an orderly manner.
Just like Akili Dada sets up Gap Year interns with mentors, ASA sets all the students up with tutors. They are mentors who ensure that we keep up with our planners. If anything happens and I am not abiding with my planner, my tutor’s job is to help me realize my challenges, find effective solutions and get back on track.
During orientation, I had the pleasure of meeting British entrepreneur Tom Ilube. He is an educational philanthropist and the chair and founder of the African Science Academy. Amongst many things he said, he shared one of the most powerful encouragement quotes that has stuck in my mind: “Don’t be afraid to fail!”.
He told us that one thing he is very good at is making mistakes. When you fall, the only thing that matters is whether you have the confidence and resolution to stand back up and continue with your life. That really motivated me to embrace mistakes and have the morale to get back up.
On one of our site visits, we got the opportunity to tour Ashesi University. Guess what! I met a familiar face! At Ashesi, I met Cynthia, an Akili Dada Young Changemakers and Gap Year alumna. It was very refreshing to see a Kenyan outside of Kenya! It is amazing that I can meet my fellow dadas in international spaces. At Ashesi, we met the administrators and recruiters. It is a very good university, and I look forward to applying there soon.
My roommates are very interesting and awesome. During my birthday, they wrote me funny notes which made my day. We board in a spacious room with my fellow students from Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Zimbabwe. We also have a very lovely hostel guardian. She makes ASA seem like a home away from home. So far, I can summarize my stay and scholarship in Ghana as amazing!