Special Debate held at ASA

On Saturday the 29th of April 2018, there was debate held in ASA by the students on the motion ‘Religion tells more truth than Science’. The event was honoured by our own founder Mr Tom Illube and his wife Caron, Dame Zarine Kharas, June Forbes, Jasmine Clark, Professor Andrew and his wife Nneka.

We had both Emeralds and Citrines on one team both arguing for the motion and Rubies and Obsidians also on one team arguing against the motion. Before the debate the audience were very confident of their stand where we had majority against the motion. But at the end of the debate there was a decrease of those against the motion even though it was still the majority and others who were no more sure of their stand and torn between the two.

It was such an amazing event with so much convincing from both parties but there had to be a winner which were obsidians and rubies. Two students Claris Oyonga and Adwoa Konadu were awarded the best debaters for the day for their outstanding performance.

The event ended with some presentations by our honourable guests.

I throw the debate back at you; Religion tells more truth than Science. I am strongly for the motion with my points burning to be shared. What is your stand?

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Blog post written by ASA student Wendy Essuman (4th May 2018)

ASA goes to the developers circle at MEST

On Saturday 28 0f April the students of  ASA went to MEST(melt water entrepreneurial school of technology) at East Legon for developers circle – Women Digitizing African through Entrepreneurship. As ladies who have respect for time we got to the place in time. On arrival, we met two ladies; Winnie (A former student at MEST) and a current student who took us on tour around the school.

After the tour, the program started where we were asked to have a chat with a person we don’t know and get to know more about them. Koby, the recruitment officer at MEST gave us a brief insight on what MEST does and how to be admitted. There was also a panel of discussion where ladies in the field of technology were asked questions about how they started their companies and also where they think their field of work will be in the next five years. These ladies were also questioned by the audience. They advised us to open minded in everything we want to do.

There was a short break and after that there was a session with Miishie Addy dubbed Women as elements of change in the Emerging Africa. During this session, I learnt the difference between a change agent and a symbol. There was an exercise where
we all asked to draw our tribe, symbolic community and our dream.

Finally, the program came to closure and we took a group picture. All in all, I loved the program because I learnt lot.


blog post written by our student: Abigail Appah (4th May 2018)

Aggy and Mark share their experience volunteering at ASA

On Wednesday 4th April, we boarded a plane for Accra, knowing very little of what was in store for us when we got there. It feels like an impossible task to encapsulate the two weeks that followed in a blog post, but we will certainly try and give a snapshot.

On our first day, we focused on getting to know the school, mostly observing the students and lessons, while coming up with a plan with Sir Chris, their Physics teacher, for the two weeks ahead. We were treated to a tour of the school by Iman and Abigail, who showed us around bursting with enthusiasm.

On Friday, our two weeks of intensive physics got going. When we arrived, the girls’ exams were to begin in just over a month. They were almost finished learning the syllabus, so we helped by teaching the last few topics, such as: the production and uses of ultrasound, the production and uses of X-rays (including CT scans) and some quantum physics (photoelectric effect, atomic spectra, band theory). It was particularly exciting when, the day after a lesson on the uses of ultrasound, a couple of Tullow representatives came to visit the school and were telling the girls about how they use ultrasound to “see” underneath the ground. The girls could explain the physics principles behind this perfectly.

The A-Level has a big emphasis on practical skills, with two of the exam papers being entirely practical-focussed. As a result, we were adamant to polish the girls’ practical skills and their usual timetable was restructured to give us three afternoons per week dedicated to lab work. One afternoon was spent finding the equilibrium position of a diagonal wooden rod with various masses hanging off it – a system that really doesn’t look like it should balance! Their focus was meticulous and even the fans needed to be switched off so as not to interfere with the forces acting on the system.  Thorough data analysis followed all the practicals and the girls revelled at Aggy’s obsession with significant figures, units, perfect lines of best fit and the importance of a perfectly sharpened pencil. The girls were working with the precision of true scientists by the end of the week.

The students were very much in the full swing of revision while we were there, so we took some revision classes on trickier concepts, such as op-amps and electromagnetic induction. These even spilled into the weekends! We spent our first Saturday exploring Accra, and a highlight for us was walking around Jamestown, the oldest part of Accra. Seeing more of the country was exciting but we found that we were missing the girls too much, so we decided to spend the rest of our weekend time at the school. This allowed the girls to come to us with questions more informally and on any topic in the syllabus, not limited to what we were looking at in class. We could also provide more individual attention, even working with some girls on their interview skills and conducting mock interviews for university applications. The mock interviews were particularly enjoyable because this gave us an opportunity to hear more about the backgrounds and aspirations of individual girls.

When we arrived, everyone was overwhelmed with excitement to hear that Mark’s PhD research is in the field of AI and Robotics. The girls have regular robotics classes and many have applied to study computer science at university. They were bursting with questions now that they had a specialist in the house. Mark decided to run a three-lesson introductory course on coding Python that many of the girls said was the most memorable part of our visit. Lessons were filled with a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as Mark showed them some examples of what coding enables. They were sat coding on their laptops long after the lessons had finished, testing what they could do with their new toolbox of computer skills. Before we left, Mark gave a talk (stretched across three assemblies) on Artificial Intelligence, introducing some of the basic ideas behind the mathematical methods used, and giving an insight into some of the current research being undertaken. The girls sat mesmerised as Mark deepened their understanding of the enthralling subject.

We will remember our time at ASA for far more than just the time we spent teaching the girls though. As the days passed and we began to know more of these twenty-two young women, we were magnetized by them. Their intellect is outstanding and their determination relentless, but this is only a snippet of who they are. Their genuine kindness and zest for life is truly unique. Their smiles are contagious and their curiosity and energy is boundless.  We couldn’t keep up with them when we joined in for sports! They would ask questions, eager to know about life in the UK, and similarly eager to tell us about their homes and cultures. Each day, the school meals will have a dish from one of the countries that the girls come from and they were always thrilled to hear of us enjoying their local dishes! On that note: the food at the school is delicious and allowed us to sample a host of traditional dishes from across the continent. One particular cultural highlight was when a few of the Ghanaian girls decided to teach us the game of oware, which Aggy developed a true obsession for. Credit is due to Rhoda, Abigail, Andrewla and Rosemond for teaching us both so well that we even managed to defeat Auntie Levina, the maths teacher, in a final game before our departure!

The staff at ASA are as impressive as the students. Before the end of breakfast on our first day at the school, the staff had made us feel like we were old friends. Their excitement to have us there was abundant and this remained true throughout the entirety of our time there. We were always met with the most heartwarming smiles and we learnt heaps, both from their positivity and their teaching. We were the most spoiled guests: Auntie Levina organised an unforgettable trip to the theatre for us and Efua, the head teacher, took us on a spontaneous tour throughout the communities of Tema, simultaneously introducing us to all the local fruit and facilitating a fruit tasting. We cannot thank all the staff enough for their hospitality, and particular thanks are due to Helen for hosting us.

On our final day, we were overwhelmed with thanks from the girls. They put on a presentation showcasing a variety of their talents; this left us speechless and even more in awe of them! These young women are not simply impressive: they are exceptional. Every minute we spent with them confirmed this. Teaching them was a true pleasure and it was an honour to contribute to a project that facilitates the most outstanding young minds from across a continent to reach their potential.  We absolutely recommend the volunteering programmes to anyone who can take a few months to come out to Ghana. As we drove away from the school, Aggy shedding a tear, all we could talk about was when we could plan a trip back to ASA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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written by Aggy and Mark (posted on 23rd April 2018)

Thank you from the entire ASA family for all your hard work and dedication. It is much appreciated.

If you are interested in volunteering with us too, please send us an email to info@africangifted.org

 

ASA staff Anabella Boateng joins YALI

The YALI program was introduced by the former President Barack Obama and his government. YALI is the abbreviated form of Young African leaders Initiative. The YALI RLC (Regional Leadership Center) West Africa is run by the American government and the USAID with sponsors and partners like MasterCard Foundation, Microsoft, Africa 2.0 and GIMPA.

I got into the YALI RLC West Africa Cohort 9 after a rigorous application and selection process. I felt so many emotions (except anger and sadness) when I received the email that I got in! I can’t count the number of times I carefully read the congratulatory email just to make sure I actually got in and it wasn’t another newsletter from the YALI Network. Things got real and I joined a WhatsApp group with the other participants from the different parts of West Africa. I started with a two week online course which centred on ethical leadership, gender equality and other critical topics which addressed the issues of Africa. Even though the online course was intensive, it was a teaser of the onsite training. Taking the online course only made me look forward to the onsite training more.

I arrived at the GIMPA executive hostel on March 3, 2018. Settling in wasn’t exactly difficult because most of us had socialized on the WhatsApp group and all we had to do was to match faces with names. Country heads were selected and country group pictures were taken. The ‘honeymoon’ period was over just after two days. There were serious lectures right before the official welcome ceremony. I believe this was to prove a point that time is very essential and when used effectively, will produce results. We had series of lectures that allowed us to further understand the online classes and also hear the views of other participants. For me, this was the time to test my open-mindedness because I found myself strongly disagreeing with different opinions especially during one discussion about gender equality.

I decided to listen and understand these point of views and also have conversations about these views; it helped out a lot. One of the speeches I enjoyed was from the Mad Duck; she asked us to write five things we would do if we were given just three months to live. Most of us listed quite a number of things. She later answered the question saying she wouldn’t do anything if she was to live for just 3 months because she has been doing the things she’s passionate about and that is what we should be doing.

We were privileged to be the first cohort to have a centre to ourselves. There were three lecture rooms; the civic track room, the entrepreneurship track room and the public policy track room. All of these lecture rooms were designed to provide a conducive environment to enhance practical learning and the purpose was achieved. I was in the entrepreneurship track which was headed by Chico Cissoko Amadou. Chico made us understand the actual concept of social entrepreneurs and how the successful businesses mostly have servant leaders. He started his lectures by helping us to know ourselves and what truly drives us to do the things we do. Once this achieved, he guided us to identify the problems in Africa, the root causes, how to solve these problems and of course, how to earn a living from changing lives and Africa positively. This exercise also prepared us for the design thinking process.

My group, TeamBella decided to work on agriculture. We used tools like the empathy map, POV and value proposition to identify and solve these issues. I had the chance to introduce google drive to my fellow group members.

Participants were put into groups of nine named after the various rivers in Africa. The task was to design posters that will depict an issue in Africa, the causes and the solutions. In my group many ideas sprung up; from corruption to teenage pregnancy and poverty in Africa. I then suggested that the other groups will tackle these issues so we should look into global warming. After deliberating for a long time, my idea was chosen. We found innovative ways to put our message forward. On the final preparation day, participants from other groups saw our poster and were very interested in our topic. Mission accomplished. 

We did not win the poster competition but the message was communicated well. We were then grouped into different countries and the AU/UN for a simulation competition. The topic was about reducing youth unemployment and poverty in Africa. I opted to be in the AU/UN group and I got the chance play Christine Lagarde, the IMF director.  The simulation opened my eyes to so many issues happening in Africa and how we as future leaders have to think critically and strategically to make Africa the Wakanda it really is.


Blog post written by Anabella Boateng (ASA Admin Officer)

International Women’s Day at Tullow Ghana

On International Women’s day (8th of March, 2018), the Emeralds (a group of 6 ASA students) had the opportunity to spend the day with Tullow Ghana Limited. We set off at 7:15am in a Tullow bus and it took about 30 minutes to get there. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed warmly by the receptionists and had a sumptuous breakfast after some time. The place was as cold as ice and very comfortable and Miss Linda Owusu was assigned to us for the day. We had a one day experience which impacted us so much. We got to witness speeches from the chief justice, Her Ladyship Sofia Akuffo, and Mrs Gertrude, who is a professional judiciary at the High Court during the International Women’s Day which was held at the canteen on the ground floor. Mrs Gertrude emphasised on the fact that leadership has nothing to do with gender but rather the identity, competence, integrity, equity and core values of an individual irrespective of their gender. She also spoke of how to balance work with family by negotiating with your husband. Her ladyship spoke about education and how it can translate into equality in the society. She spoke about individual rights and group rights and how
the two when linked together would promote equality. She ended with a quote that “If you do not say I am”, no one would say “Thou art”.

Having heard from these inspiring women, we had a mini tour around the company. We took a lift to the fourth floor and meet the emergency team at the Health and Service Department; Mr Peter and Mr Edwin who briefed us on safety measures and how to exit when there is an emergency. From there, we went to the Afrifa hall to have a practice of our presentation and had an interaction with Miss Korkor who is the Environmental personnel. We had lunch at 12: 30 and after lunch; we had a conference call in the Edina Hall with Mr Sebastian who is a biomedical engineer at Tullow, Takoradi. He told us about a project he is working on to test how the oil being drilled at the rig can affect the species in the sea and humans at large. We had sessions with some of the employees in Tullow starting with Mrs Diana who was a lawyer but is in the government Affairs Department and also the Communication Manager at Tullow. Mr Edmond, a chemical engineer who told us about the process of drilling oil and many more. We learnt that sound waves are shot at the sea bed which is about five thousand kilometres from the sea level to detect the presence of oil.

When oil is detected, wells are dug and a reservoir with pressure having a tube is dipped into to transport the oil into the Floating Production Storage Offload (FPSO) for temporal storage. The oil is stabilized and the water and gas is replaced into the reservoir. In addition, Mrs Karen who is a software engineer also spent some time with us.

Immediately after these, there was a debate at the canteen on the theme “The Glass Ceiling No Longer Exist” and the debating teams were the Smashers and the Vanguards. The glass ceiling was described as the limitation that prevented females from having high ranks. Right from the onset, I sided with the Vanguards because the glass ceiling is still there but it needs to be broken and it can be done by gathering forces to do so. The forces include women empowerment, gender equality and many others. A trophy was handed over to the vanguards for their placing first. We had snack and had a talk with Mr Kwasi Boateng who is the Social Performance and Public Affairs Manager who gave more details of the oil drilling process and many others. We had our journey back to school, and safely, we arrived.

THANK YOU TULLOW FOR ARRANGING THIS DAY!!!

 

 

Written by our current student:  Elizabeth Fio.