Entering a new world, so to say, seemed like a daunting thing to do. It was my first time travelling all by myself. I boarded the airplane heading to Ghana frightened because in a matter of hours, I’d be landing in a country populated by people who all spoke a language I was completely oblivious to. As a matter of fact, none of us, young scholars, were sure what to expect but we all knew that we were about to have the time of our lives and we could hardly wait!
YYAS is the perfect pre-college programme for any academically talented African teenager who wants to earn college credit, pursue academic interests, explore career opportunities and discover college life. It is sponsored by the Higherlife Foundation which aims to strengthen cross-cultural relations between African countries. With a modicum of supervision and guidelines in place, young scholars are responsible for productively managing their time with minimal supervision, a pre-cursor to college life. And oddly enough, for all of us, we had to overcome the obstacle of not sleeping past our alarm clocks!
Certainly, the workload was strenuous but filled with valuable information. This immersive learning experience provided us with a generous sampling of the rigors of college academics and a fairly accurate picture of what we could expect as college freshmen. There was not a single interaction with any of the faculty that was not uplifting and engaging. SAT preparation workshops, college writing series and presentations about college procedures by successful, articulate people in vibrant career fields gave us the insight and guidance needed to get ready for college application. Our mentors were great people who were not patronising or authoritative figures though they could lay down the law quite nicely.
Every day was filled with new learning opportunities ranging from diplomat talks, culture classes and dress-up days. Problems such as hunger, poverty and social injustice gnawing our society were discussed and I learned many other things about life itself such as where I stood in the world as well as how I am impacting my community. Whether it was in the field or in the dormitories, the discussions with my peers invoked the most meaning and passion for learning-not only for what the world is like and why is it in such a way but also how to change it for the better and make it a place in which everyone wants to live. YYAS builds an open-minded community in which teens can deeply engage. It was then that I discovered the power humans hold in their hands; we may be feeble beings who with one accident may perish but we are the beings that domesticated livestock, created scientific concepts and built pyramids. I realised that I needed to experience the world for I have not seen even 1% of it and the place where I was headed had the many of opportunities to expand my horizon and knowledge base.
From the outburst of hysterical laughter to the pranks pulled at mealtime, friendships were made and lessons were learned. I enhanced my own perspective while meeting people whose lives are very different from my own. There was always something interesting to do and someone interesting to share it with. Whether we see each other again or correspond with them for years to come, we are all glad of having met amazing young people of vision.
And soon enough, 8 days were over; 8 days of sharing talents, dreams, opening night jitters, summer flings, innermost secrets but the memories and friendships last.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, ‘’A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.’’ I believe that I have matured mentally throughout that journey-like a dragonfly nymph breaking the water’s surface. I feel as though I have broken a barrier in the understanding of how the world of today works and that now, there is no looking back to the ways of the past. I can only move forward.
Blog by Ashwini Brijmohun from Mauritius
YYAS 2019 Ghana Session