Contrary to popular belief, I do not live a life of lackadaisical freedom, unencumbered by every aspect of student life, from community hours to classes. Although I probably sleep about two hours more than the average ALA student every night, I also take six subjects and work as an assistant in the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Office. For example, I’ve researched Corporate Social Responsibility in Africa, catalogued some of the office’s library, and gathered information on community service sites. But enough about me. The best part of working in the L&E office is the L&E faculty, who I will now attempt to describe. Here’s the lineup (click to enlarge, as always): This is the beginning of my student Liam’s blog about his interpreation of myself and my Leadership and Entrepreneurship colleagues. Hillarious stuff, but also quite substantive. You will realize that once you take that leap to pursue your purpose doesn’t mean everything will be easy and breezy. His characterization of one of my teaching moments was the encouragement that kept me through a very difficult first year of teaching: ”A few days ago, he told Lailat to “find the words” when she was struggling to explain something in English, and he waited while she did. The class ended up clapping for her after she made her point elegantly, and it was one of the best teaching moments I have ever seen.” You know the guy is good, because the day he posted it, a number of faculty and staff room were asking if I had seen it. Liam is headed to Berkely to study architecture, but I often wonder, Liam, if your greatest gift to the Africa wont be using your writing as the architect of a new idea and image of Africa. Read the rest of Liam’s post here
Archive for August 12, 2011
She hugged the little ones and then ushered Malia, Sasha, her mother and the cousins into the two big SUVS. And as quickly as the motorcade had arrived it was gone. The visit had only lasted about 45 minutes, but it had felt much longer.
I got hooked up in all of this about 4 weeks earlier. A group of about 12 men and women clad in dark pinstriped suits descended upon the foyer of the African Leadership Academy. They were escorted by the chief press officer of the US Embassy. They called me down from the office to speak to the group about our students’ community service work in the local areas. I shared with them the stories of the dedicated efforts of our students involved with Community Servie Projects, and that’s when they asked me to take them to see a site of my choosing. Well, I thought about it a bit and selected the Emthonjeni site where about 50 of our students serve every Wednesday in a variety of projects they created specifically to meet needs of that community.
Soon after I began corresponding with someone from the Embassy for all the information I could muster about the program, the site, and the identification of all the people there. Then I started seeing this in the subject line of emails: FLOTUS. I was so confused at first. I thought it was code name for the operation or something…well it is, sort of — First Lady Of The United States.
Yet, despite all the build up and the seemingly endless array of security checks and considerations, when Mrs. Obama stepped out of her big black SUV she was as welcoming and considerate as could be. She knew they were running late and we had all been waiting, and so she called out to all of us and said “We are here, don’t worry. We can’t wait to come see you all” (now those weren’t her exact words but I like it my way, lol). Then Michelle Obama entered the area and I had the honor of shaking her hand and introducing myself and the community service programs of the Academy. Now, the staff had told me it would be just a shake of the hand, but you know I wasn’t having that…so I went on to tell her so many of my friends, especially my female friends, would so wish they could be in my place right then. She smiled. Then Malia and Sasha came up and shook my hands. I told them I was from their neighborhood– Washington, DC — they got excited (I must say I was really impressed with the girls). After that it was Mrs. Robinson, mother of Mrs. Obama.
I felt special only because I was channeling all the admiration of my dear friends back in the US for whom I would have given anything for them to be there in my stead.