On Thursday 31st December 2015, the students from the University of Minnesota and Australian National University arrived at Maji Zuwa. The main purpose of the visit was to conduct the youth leadership workshop with Malawian youth for Determined to Develop. Over 350 D2D sponsored youths ranged from the age of 12 to 20 participated in this workshop. Before we started the workshops, we had introductions which included telling our name, school, and what subjects we study. Then, all of the students were registered by their name, school and classes and we divided into give groups according to education level. This was because the difference in classes meant difference in understanding issues. As such, we had simplified words for the juniors so they could also understand what was being taught.
There were many sessions for us to participate in, such as workshops and panel discussions. Included in discussions were three important sections; education, development and health. This gave us a platform to voice our opinions in these departments, and the visiting students learnt how Malawian youth feel about such issues. We then arranged workshops to begin the following week, with the purpose of equipping Malawian youth with the leadership skills essential to make their voice heard in development discourse.
We also played a number of games at the beach, for example; tug of war, crossing the ocean and the Ninja Game. We played these games to keep us all active and awake first thing in the morning and between lessons. It was very fun and the students enjoyed them a lot. When we began new sessions, we got into our small groups and there was an introduction to the workshop to give students an overview of what we would cover. Some themes of the discussions were centered around the meaning of leadership, its importance and the qualities of a good leader.
When we discussed ideas for the lesson plans, the session leaders came up with five main points that we thought would be good to teach the students. These points were the five main leadership skills and these are: communication, respect, goal setting, confidence and teamwork. Each session was for two hours and we had reflection time at the end to check in with students. We asked what they enjoyed, what they found challenging and that we were all of the same understanding. This helped the students to be able to understand lots of the points clearly. It was during reflections when we could see changes in students, for example speaking with new found confidence when raising points on the things they found challenging. The students were also polite in their speeches. This encouraged the teachers even more.
During the lessons, role plays were set to capture the attention of the students. The students were happy with the varied learning styles. Some of the other things that the students enjoyed was the food, accommodation and looking forward to the different workshops and games. Furthermore, the whole event was exciting due to social activities that were set. We had a movie night and even a talent show where people showcased dancing, singing, acting, comedy, poems and acrobatics. It was so nice to see many people participating, especially seeing our visitors from USA and Australia enjoying their time with us.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Determined to Develop, the University of Minnesota, Australian National University and everybody who took part in organizing and helping in any way for the workshop. It was very nice and has changed the people’s ideas on who is a leader and whose voice should be heard. We have all learnt new things. I can now see that people are going to use this knowledge to change their communities and our Malawi with the leadership skills they have been equipped with. We have nope and not despair.
By Taleka Nyasulu, Determined to Develop Sponsored Youth
Tawonga chomene (We thank you)!