Sally Leonard reflects on her 3 months volunteering with ASA as a progression tutor

ASA is a pre-university for gifted young females- except it isn’t. It is so much more.

 

The opportunities these young women are given are both inspirational and unique
– just the fact that they are given opportunities to learn practically, teach their peers and voice their opinion is a novelty for some. But these are just the basics – the Speaker Series runs within the weekly Careers sessions, inviting inspirational women (and men) from different fields to share their journeys and bestow their advice to the students. These seminars prove invaluable as months later the girls can still be heard stating ‘When X came she told us…..’. Other unique and awe-inspiring opportunities the students experienced within their very first half term at ASA are: a visit to the opening ceremony of Ghana’s first radio telescope, where they also met the President; taking part in the ‘Future Leaders Symposium’, with the tag-line ‘Nurturing Africa’s Leader of Tomorrow’, where they were given the opportunity to network with and receive mentoring from a host of outstanding individuals in their respective fields of work, and being filmed for the CNN documentary series ‘Inside Africa’.

 

The work of the African Gifted charity is unique and  invaluable for these students. Many derive from low-income families and for them to be able to come to ASA and solely focus on their studies and passion is so amazing. It is so important that gifted (female) students are not limited by their financial circumstances, but are enabled and encouraged to fulfil their true potential and follow their dream – and that’s exactly what ASA provides.
Whilst Maths and Physics is the focus here, other subjects are not neglected as the school understands the importance of ensuring these young individuals become well-rounded students and gather skills and knowledge in a range of areas: Sports, Robotics, Drama, Yoga, Art, to name a few. Their social and collaborative skills are also developed further through: weekly house assemblies; Sunday assemblies (based on a PSHCE theme) and common room meetings. Volunteers are also invited to provide other clubs and extra-curricular activities in an area of their interest or talent.
 
What the staff do here is truly amazing and any one of the twenty three students would testify to this. All staff, and volunteers, work tirelessly to ensure all scholars are catered for (meals included!) – they often work over-time to provide further advice and guidance, for: exams; university applications; assessment days. They are all approachable and place the students at the heart of everything they do, to describe ASA as ‘a home from home’ would not be an exaggeration. Volunteers are invited to share their opinion and give feedback, however long they have been working at the school and irrespective of their field of work/level of experience. All views are valid and appreciated, ensuring that volunteers feel like long-standing members of staff.
I volunteered at ASA for three months, and as I am from a primary education background I wondered how useful I would be. But it turns out I was pretty useful! I came to ASA with the aim of sharing my expertise and ‘help out’ where I could, but to be honest the experience turned out to be a lot more than just that. I was inspired; I wanted to be transported back twenty years and be a part of this cohort of intelligent, inquisitive and compassionate young women. They just suck you in! I have absolutely no idea what they were talking about in Maths, but just to witness them study so hard; demonstrate such enthusiasm and dedication  – you could virtually see their brains ticking! – I couldn’t help but feel in awe. They have a strong, welcoming presence and will always greet you with warm smiles and ‘Hello Auntie!’. They are forever grateful for the support you offer them and are always willing to listen intently to the advice given to them.
Whilst I was a little nervous about living in an unknown continent, all my worries vanished as soon as I arrived and was warmly greeted by the staff. The boarding is very comfortable, and all the meals are adequate and delicious. The stipend is more than adequate and all staff are very understanding to the fact that we can all become home-sick at times and will lend a helping hand (or shoulder to cry on!) when needed. You won’t just leave with colleagues, but with friends.
I absolutely encourage you to devote a mere three months of your life to volunteering at ASA. You will believe you are supporting a group of young women to achieve their dreams, but in actuality they will encourage you to dream bigger, work harder and take more risks, without even realising it.
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Everyone at ASA would like to express their sincere gratitude to Sally for all her hard work and passion for ASA. If you too are interested in becoming a progression tutor, then find out more by emailing Helen Denyer on helen.denyer@africangifted.org

ASA alumna Ramlah speaks about her first few weeks at Edinburgh University, UK

I found myself at Bole International airport less than four hours after receiving my VISA. I had been imagining this moment for the past year, but it never occurred to me that it would turn out this way (to travel a few hours after getting my VISA, NO WAY!!). Still I was too ecstatic that things worked out to be bothered by it. After 13 hours of flight I arrived at Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Ramlah at ASA graduation

My time in Edinburgh has been exceptional. With the help of my fellow scholars and the MasterCard Foundation team I have been able to settle in well. During the first few weeks here I have been able to realise that I need to manage my time well if I want to succeed at University. For now, I am only involved in a few societies as I am getting used to the system, but I am planning to get more involved in the coming years.

I wish all my juniors at ASA the best of luck in their A-LEVEL and College applications and I hope to meet some of you next year at The University of Edinburgh.

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Ramlah Hassan Abeaw graduated from ASA in June 2017, as part of the first cohort. She was one of three students to be admitted to Edinburgh University on the Mastercard scholarship. Ramlah is originally from Ethiopia.

Nurturing Young African Leaders

On Tuesday, the 26 th September, following the arrival of the honourable guests and the warm welcome offered by the ASA staff, the students had a wonderful session networking with the mentors. Present were some of the important decision-makers of Africa and the whole ASA family could not help but mention the honour of having them in our presence.

The program started at 1pm and the ASA choir and dance troupe entertained the visitors with performances of ‘Halleluiah’, ‘Akwaba’ and Fuse OGD’s ‘T.I.N.A’ to welcome the guests. One of ASA’s core values is diversity and on the day we were fortunate to hear the various and interesting backgrounds of the other students and mentors. The most fascinating aspect of the day was the mentoring session. The girls wished this time would not end because it was very inspirational and informative. In short, it was a particularly memorable day because we got to have conversations with influential people, who are working in the various fields that we would like to venture into.

From the Nurturing African Leaders Conference, I was particularly inspired by Jessica Horn’s welcome key note speech. She stated that we should be attentive to the fact that we all live surrounded by science in our everyday African lives, and suggested that technology is about redefining and modifying ideas that were invented years ago, to take our world to the new level.

Following this speech, we began the ‘Symposium’. In our various groups, we had prepared presentations on an innovative invention that we believed had the power to take Africa to a new level. Although only one team won, and were rewarded with a day of work experience and mentoring with Tullow Oil, we all learnt the value of teamwork, and are now doing our best to understand our weaknesses so that we can work on them and come out better people.

The theme for the day was ‘Nurturing African Leaders of Tomorrow’ and the ASA girls certainly enjoyed and benefited from the interactive and informative sessions that we were so grateful to have organised for us. We hope to remember all the advice offered to us , and employ it as we move forward in our education and careers.

  • written by ASA student Wendinoda Chivambo, African Science Academy

A special Thank you goes to all our mentors :

Kwasi Boateng, Charles Darku, Jessica Horn, Dr. Elsie Kaufmann, Dale Quist, Prof Matilda Steiner- Asiedu, Esi Tunde-Anjous, Aniedi Udo-Obong, and Ato Ulzen-Appiah.

 

 

Our first ASA headgirl returns to ASA to volunteer as Progression Mentor:

Let’s hear from Ibukunoluwa Aribilola on her experience with ASA:

‘On arriving at ASA last year, I was having a tough time balancing the different aspect of my life as I had to make new friends, adapt to a new environment and maintain good grades. However, the support I received from every single staff member including the volunteering progression mentors made it so easy for me to get used to the community. My appreciation for these efforts made me realize that I would like to give back to ASA after graduation. I thought there was no better way to do that than to volunteer as a progression mentor for 3 months while I apply to universities to study biomedical engineering .

Now in ASA as a progression mentor, I feel so good each time a student comes to me for help with studies and personal life; I am always happy to help. I am currently running SAT classes for the students who would be taking the SATs this year as I have written the exam before. I hope that by the end of this year, the girls would have learnt a lot from me and vice versa.’

Ibukun graduated from ASA in June 2017. In her final CIE A-Levels she received an astounding A* A* A in Maths, Further Maths and Physics. While at ASA Ibukun decided to take a year out after graduating and we have the privilege that she has decided to spend part of that year with us here at ASA. While she is with us she is also applying to top Universities around the world and we wish her luck with the admissions process.

Rosalind Kainyah, ASA Trustee, takes on a wheely big challenge for the school

Rosalind Kainyah, MBE, has decided to take up a small challenge to support an amazing cause.  She will be cycling 46 miles in the Prudential London Surrey Bike Ride on Sunday July 30th to raise funds for The African Science Academy.

Rosalind says, “ASA is re-inventing Africa one girl at a time! Be a part of this great story by sponsoring me!”

Please click on the link below to reach Rosalind’s fundraising page on Virgin Money Giving.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RosalindKainyah

Through Virgin Money Giving, donations will be quickly processed and passed to AGF. Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit organisation and will claim gift aid on a charity’s behalf where the donor is eligible for this.

Rosalind and the ASA Girls really appreciate all your support and thank you for any donations.