ACLP students studying the Africa map
African Community Learning Program (ACLP) recently wrapped up a successful first semester. On October 9, 2017, ACLP opened its door. Our mission is to educate, connect, empower, and support people of African background in West Philadelphia. We have been serving thirteen students in our after-school program, grades 1-8 almost all from the Philadelphia public school. Our students are connected to six African countries: Senegal, Sudan, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria. We help our students with free tutoring and mentorship as well as engage in reading, writing, discussions, activities, research, projects, and presentations centered on the African continent. We got eighth of our students library cards from the Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library. Our learning environment encourages students’ self-awareness and community building, promotes cultural pride, and fosters leadership skills.
Our students have been taking ownership of the program and growing with each session. Through his own initiative, a student wrote a letter to his principal asking her give ACLP a printer, which she did. “I told her how the program is helping me and other students, and we need a printer,” he said. At home, another student listed many countries’ names in her notebook and shared her work with me, “I want to learn,” she said. I witnessed shy students open up and frustrated learners become eager learners.
From left to right, Ezzeldin, Souhaib, and Daniel posing with their South Sudan project
We covered a wide range of material. I research and closely examine all the material we use in our program, from the language to the illustrations, and message to make sure that it’s a fair representation of Africa and its people. We read three books Emmanuel’s Dream by Thompson, Africa Is Not a Country by Knight, and I lost my Tooth in Africa by Diakite, a poem titled “Africa” by Diop, an article I wrote titled “Senegalese woman sows fashion one thread at time,” and ACLP’s chant “Awareness.” We had three guest speakers: Fatimata Sy who presented on Souhaili and Lingala, Dr. Coleman Donaldson who discussed N’ko, and Professor Lorene Cary who taught haiku poem. We watched videos of Ghanaian athlete, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, Somali-American Minnesota politician, Ilhan Omar, ACLP secretary and Rhodes Scholar, Hazim Hardeman, and Sudanese poet Emtithal Mahmoud. Our students completed and presented four projects on Sudan, Senegal, Mali, and South Sudan.
Twelve volunteers, graduate and undergraduate students, have gotten involved in African Community Learning Program: eleven of them are students at the University of Pennsylvania and one is an instructor at Temple University. Our volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and have different levels of understanding the African continent; some have a direct connection to the continent and others don’t.
Many people and groups have made ACLP possible: my husband Abdoul Wane who fixed our current location and helps on the daily basis, our partner the Blackwell Library, where our students did their “Africa Projects” every Friday and where we borrow our books, our volunteers who are on the front lines making sure our students understand and complete their work, parents who bring and pick up their children on time every day, and many groups and people at the University of Pennsylvania who have been actively helping us recruit volunteers. ACLP's first semester ended on Friday, December 15, 2017. We did our Africa Celebration on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at the Blackwell Library to packed room of students, parents, volunteers, and supporters.
ACLP parents and student helping themselves with African foods during our Africa Celebration
We are grateful for all the support and are proud of all the work we have accomplished so far. In order to continue to shape young minds, we need more volunteers, we need more partners, and we need donors and sponsors. We need laptop computers for homework help and research. We also need a bigger space that could accommodate more students. Invest in African Community Learning Program and impact a child’s life today.
To support African Community Learning Program visit africancommunitylearningprogram.org and
or email Aminata Sy at firstname.lastname@example.org