Tamara points to Senegal, her native country.
“It felt like a year since our last session” Tamara exclaimed as she and other students returned to African Community Learning Program’s (ACLP) first day of the second semester. “Nene Aminata, I missed you,” she said smiling while hugging ACLP founder Aminata Sy for the second time.
“I missed you too; welcome back!” Aminata responded.
After a four-week break, the students were very excited to continue their lessons. ACLP resumed its sessions on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Aminata explained the curriculum to the students highlighting that ACLP’s January theme is language. “What does language mean to you?” was a main questions posed to the students. They would use specific examples from their personal life experiences to answer the question. This question stimulated very interesting reactions from the students.
“Can I talk about my Arabic experience?”a 7th grader asked.
“Yes, you can,” Aminata answered.
Like him, there were many others who were enthusiastic about the opportunity to share their experiences in their respective first tongues in the following sessions. Aminata chose the theme language as a means to help the students connect their experiences with hers and that of others in books like My Name Is Sangoel by Karen Williams and One Green Apple by Eve Bunting.
“I went through similar cultural struggles to that of our students, language being one them. This semester, I thought it was important that we start there, so our students understand that they are not alone and could overcome these challenges as well,” Aminata said.
Kwaku helps ACLP students with homework
The students’ first reading is “First steps toward a giant leap: Part 1,” where Aminata shares her experiences growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and ultimately coming to America.The plan for the rest of the semester sounds equally exciting. In honor of Black History Month, the February theme is “ACLP black historical figures.” However, what makes this month unique is that ACLP is putting together a list that mainly focuses on living and less celebrated impactful black figures. Students do not usually encounter these individuals in their schools’ curriculum. The remaining months would cover other themes such as “home” in March and “literature” in April.
Students will be presenting for five minutes each, and are encouraged to work in groups with members from different backgrounds rather than similar backgrounds as a means to stimulate more cross-cultural interaction.The class ended with four students raising their hands to present on Thursday, January 18.
“Yes, you will learn about Africa, but you will also learn skills that you can use at school now and for years to come: presentations, listening, understanding, writing, reading, critical thinking, making connections,” Aminata explained to the students.
Kwaku Quansah is a University of Pennsylvania senior from Ghana studying biology and economics. He is also a spring 2018 African Community Learning Program writer, tutor, and mentor.
To support African Community Learning Program visit africancommunitylearningprogram.org and facebook.com/AfricanCommunityLearningProgram/
or email Aminata Sy at firstname.lastname@example.org