ALU’s First Day of Class AKA Making History

Races, mazes and reflections on identity: these were the things that made up the first day of class at ALU’s inaugural campus in Mauritius, ALC. The day was dedicated to Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL) and Communicating for Impact (CI), classes that will form part of the Foundation Year course at ALC.

“Imagine yourself 20 years from now. Where do you think you’ll be or what do you think you’ll be doing?” Tsega Tadesse, Faculty for Entrepreneurial Leadership asked her eager students.

Mary Mang’eni from Kenya wants to be a gender activist. “I want to be advocating for women and girl’s rights in Kenya. I’ll also be a parent,” she replied.

“I will have re-established the African Union and made it better than what it is today,” said Eric Sewankambo from Uganda.

This short reflection was a great segue to the focus of the class. Armed with a lot of enthusiasm and very little instruction, students were tasked with finding the path through a maze. The only clues were the start and end points of the puzzle. As such, the exercise called for teamwork, attention to detail and proactivity, which was the focus of the lesson.

The Entrepreneurial Leadership course provides an avenue for dreams and ideas such as Mang’eni’s and Sewankambo’s to come to life. Through the EL course students learn how to manage themselves because leadership begins with self and also how to lead others using skills and toolsets such as proactivity.

“Think about the tough moments you’ll face in your journey to get to where you want to be. Think of EL as where you’ll face the fears and struggles that you’ll have on the path to becoming the changemakers you want to become. Think of it as where you will sharpen your tools,” Tadesse challenged the class.

In Communicating for Impact, grammar races served as a fun refresher of the four-week long grammar MOOC students took before arriving on campus. Why grammar at the university level? Because grammar forms the building blocks for effective communication in any situation.

“I loved the grammar MOOC” said Emmanuel Kabeya from Zambia. “I was learning things that I have never learned or paid attention to. It was great.”

Communicating for Impact is dedicated to exposing students to different audiences and helping them to leverage their talent and skills so that they can effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas in any situation.

“We all have the capacity to communicate well. There’s at least one situation where you feel comfortable communicating. We’ll start from your comfort level and then we’ll move into the areas where you might find it hard to get your point across. This course is about getting you to flourish,” said Alyssa Baylor, Faculty for Communicating for Impact.

Emotions ranged from excited to anxious as students left the class to begin their self work at the end of the day. For faculty, the day showed nothing but promise.

“The first day of school made it clear to all of us that this group of 58 founding students have the smarts and drive to bring their very best to ALC. They set a very high bar and make me think they are ready to go after any challenge they will be faced with,” quipped Tadesse. “If they go after Africa’s challenges with the same energy, rigor and thoughtfulness they brought to class, we’re all going to be blown away by the kind of transformations they will bring to the continent.”