Why The Change Maker Program Changed Me
People often ask me: What is this work that you do in Ghana? Why do you spend so much time on it? Why do you love it so much?
My first response has always been- because our future depends on it. The Ghana Educational Collaborative (GEC) for me is a vehicle for change that is deeply needed in our world. Quality Education is something that should be able to be afforded to every individual no matter their socio-economic status, skin color or nationality. Unfortunately, no matter where you are in the world this remains currently an unattainable dream. GEC is able to play a small part in making that dream attainable for more students.
During the early years of GEC, we quickly realized that providing for students education is not enough, rather it is equally important to help a student find their purpose, empower them to cultivate their passion and impress upon them the need to give back to one’s community. It is from this realization that the Change Maker Program was born. We have crafted a curriculum focused on leadership, pan-africanism, advocacy and impact development. Students engage in project based learning instruction while also engaging in community speakers series, community service projects and experiential learning trips. The program itself is exciting and something that could deeply benefit all learners, but what is more exciting are the outcomes we’ve seen from our students and alumni.
Our students are deeply civically minded and have a hunger to move The Continent and the rest of our world forward. You hear our students discuss and debate problems in their communities and try to find ways to solve them. All of our alumni play integral roles in giving back to education in their own communities whether they have become teachers themselves or have supported students from their neighborhood directly or are supporting community impact initiatives. Our students and alumni have started organizations on their campuses and in their communities that are committed to giving someone else an opportunity. Our students give me hope for the future. They are kind, they are empathic, they are forward thinking and always willing to help. They believe in finding and solving problems. They are unafraid to be disruptors and do what is right rather than what is easy.
In building out the Change Maker Program, I was changed by the experience. This program is built through observation, through conversations, through research and through feedback from the people that are impacted by it. As we crafted this program together, I realized that I had been looking at education completely wrong. It is important to ensure our students do well on the academic standards and assessments so that they can be afforded options within the structure of society. It is also important that we ask ourselves what are the most important assessments of how one has lived their life?
It is equally if not more important that we consider the “soft skills” that we are providing for students. Our students can achieve academically while also having a strong culture competence and a socio-political consciousness. There are many systems in place throughout the world that are oppressive and designed to keep other students from our students socioeconomic backgrounds, skin colors and nationalities from succeeding and it is wrong. I deeply believe that it will be our students’ generation that makes a significant impact on righting this long standing wrong that is woven into the fabric of a staggering amount of our societies. For me betting on our students is betting on a better future and I could think of no better bet to place.