You never really know a place until you have visited it more than once or lived there. When Chiedza Skyum visited Kigali for the first time in 2019, she fell in love with the city. The second time she was in Kigali, she came to stay. During her initial tourist visit to Rwanda, she got to sit in on a class with 18 African Leadership University students, in which they were discussing migration, ironically. In that moment, she inched closer to two decisions: she decided to move to Rwanda and knew she wanted to be part of ALU. “I always wanted to be in diverse spaces where everyone has something to learn from the next person,” and she gets to do that everyday as the Associate Director of the Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship Leadership (BEL) program at ALU.
Learning from diversity
“I fell into academia without intending to and so far, I haven’t regretted it,” Chiedza remarks. Dubbed as the ‘self-proclaimed Model United Nations nerd,’ Chiedza traveled a lot during her time in university and got exposed to many worlds. She believes this exposure to diversity in her formative years helped develop a sense of empathy and understanding for the uniqueness of different cultures and identities. She completed her postgraduate studies at Webster University and lived in Thailand for 10 years where she held numerous roles in international relations. Still, her love for diversity and desire to travel persisted. What started off as a plan to travel the world and visit as many African cities as possible, soon turned into educating as many students as possible from diverse countries. In Bangkok, Thailand she got to run an international study abroad program which attracted students from all over the world. And then, she visited Rwanda.
Experiences navigating diverse spaces
Chiedza Skyum joined ALU in 2019 as a Global Challenges faculty; helping students to examine and explore solutions for Africa’s most pressing challenges. “Honestly, I learnt more from the students than they did from me. You can only teach what you know as an instructor, which can be limiting for students. Allowing students to lead the class, manage events, write proposals and much more was a joy to see as they really got involved in what they were learning,” Chiedza says. ALU’s education model focuses on student driven, experiential learning which enables students to take charge of their learning journey by curating experiences, courses and opportunities which align with their interests. Faculty and staff assist by providing guidance and support to student’s individual learning goals and the missions they pursue during their time at ALU.
Preparation for lifelong learning
Now as Associate Director, Chiedza gets to design the BEL program and in her words, “figure out cool ways to make learning fun.” Under ALU’s learning model, the emphasis is on the holistic development of the individual and not academic concentrations as in traditional universities. “University is an opportunity to grow and learn to be an adult. For most students, university is the first time they live alone, manage their own finances, and evolve into independent adults. All these things are more important than the academic field they pursue,” Chiedza adds.
With over 50 countries represented in the student and staff populations, the African Leadership University’s diverse community expands your perspective, increases self awareness, enriches students’ sense of identity and develops multicultural awareness; all of which are key aspects in the development of future African leaders.