In January of 2016, I began a journey that would greatly impact my identity for the next three to four years. This piece serves as a reflection of this journey.
The leadership journey I began at ALU is one of the experiences that has really shaped my identity in many different ways. Coming to an innovative institution with so much pan-African diversity, opportunities for growth, and deep conversations and reflections have all provided me with the platform to challenge my ideas and preconceived notions about life. In this period, I have grown beyond measure, which really cannot be fully presented in a 600-word-article. However, I will briefly share this regardless.
I got to ALU in January of 2016, but little did I know that the experience I was about to have would have an immense impact on my growth and development as a young leader. At first, I was amazed by my classmates’ depth of knowledge and thought processes. Classes began, and I could barely understand what we were being taught in class. Everything seemed higher than my level of reasoning. I thought to myself, “Am I really prepared for this?” In my first year, I would normally sit in my corner, avoiding questions at all costs, as opposed to high school, where I was very active and engaged in class. I found it difficult to engage in class as I always second-guessed everything I was about to say (if there was anything at all). This was where I started feeling intimidated. Whenever I answered a question or expressed my thoughts about an issue, I asked myself if I was right, if what I said made sense, or if I met the expectations of my classmates and facilitator.
However, I was wrong. Learning during the Leadership Core is about the growth process of students and not entirely about the outcome of deliverables. It is fine to not know the answer. That’s how you learn. Looking back on this journey in my final year, I have gained so much confidence that has been built by constant growth and development sparked by different experiences I have had in my years of studying at ALU. Indeed, growth can be sometimes uncomfortable, but it is in this discomfort that we think and deeply reflect on what we can do better next time, and we are well inspired to find the answer to the pressing problems that we face.
Regarding discomfort, I have come to learn that it is a necessary prerequisite for growth. I came to ALU with a different view on life, shaped by my immediate context or community, just like any other person would. My ignorance about life outside of my context and different world issues was exposed during conversations within and outside of class. Thus, there was some discomfort at realizing how ignorant I was. However, in the spirit of rigorous inquiry, I went on a journey of asking questions and thoroughly finding out knowledge for myself through more interactions with people. It was a subconscious journey with a conscious mission of learning, unlearning, and relearning. I have particularly enjoyed conversations and dialogues with different people with different passions and aspirations at ALU. As a result, I have learned about the power of open-mindedness and rigorous inquiry in (re)shaping your thoughts about life or anything really.
I have come to this place, I have triumphed, and I have been thoroughly impacted. All these happened with being comfortable with the uncomfortable growth process, constantly questioning things, and being more open-minded in having conversations regardless of my preconceived notion. Imagine a world where open-mindedness and rigorous inquiry are evident in our lives, both as leaders in organizations and countries as well as responsible citizens of the globe? That means we’ll be more tolerant of each other, and thus, a peaceful world is inevitable.
Pictures capturing some memorable events:
Kwibuka 22, 2016.
Building stuff on the sand at Mont Choisy Beach, 2016
Team Lotus, 2017
Exams Prep, 2017
Get-together at Jess’, 2017
Internship with the soc-sci team, 2017
Grandma’s Secret field trip, 2018
ALU Christian Fellowship – Sunday fellowship, 2018
With Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and a friend at ALN 2016.
ALU Mauritius Campus launch, September 2018
Marta (my facilitator, mentor, lecturer and professor), 2018
And finally, an extra sauce:
Artwork of Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987), Former president of Burkina Faso: a great inspiration of mine in my leadership journey so far.