African Leadership University

Dive in to ALU’s vision with ALU’s first intern, Astrid Arlove

What did you do during your internship?

During my first 2-3 days, I researched African secondary schools that ALU could reach out to and speak to prospective students. I also attended team meetings every day which was a great way for me to hear about what other team members were doing, and find my part to play in the puzzle that they were bringing together. The second part of my internship was about brainstorming ways to get ALU’s name out there, but in a way that would touch the people who we were interested in and who would be interested in ALU’s ideas.

What was the highlight of your experience?

There wasn’t a specific time or factor, the experience was a bright highlight of my summer all in itself. What I think made this short internship such a great experience was how open-minded and welcoming the team was, inside and outside office hours. They’re all motivated cool people who clearly share the dedication to make something great of ALU and who made me feel completely comfortable to share my thoughts and ideas. But my experience with ALU didn’t extend only to the internship. I had no clue that I would leave with a video project opportunity in hand. I was ecstatic about it! Thus the final editing of the video 2 months later was also a special moment.

Would you do it again?

I definitely would! At different times and places, different contributions and gains are possible.

What prompted you to create the Dive In video?

It seems to me like I got briefly, yet profoundly immersed into ALU’s culture and purpose. I find it hard not to believe that education is a door to healthier, happier minds and eventually communities. Finally working closer to my continent, feeling a deeper connection with the African continent and the hope that I hold of a different version of certain realities. Working around goals to improve education pathways is actually inspiring and feels completely relevant to me. While doing marketing research and brainstorming, I stumbled upon a song that touched me and somehow matched my feel of ALU’s message. The video is just an attempted reproduction of that unplanned visualization, and of course the song I heard is the one that was used (so watch it on loud speakers haha!)

Why should anyone apply to ALU?

I think ALU’s vision, hopes and beliefs of the people and the organization, are very positive. The experience of going to university will remain precious to one’s personal and professional path. It is a perfect time to be shaped into who you become. I think that ALU sees great things for its students and will therefore probably try to provide opportunities to encourage greatness. On top of intellectual growth and boosting the quality of thoughts and ideas, the value of meeting new, different people and living away from home is underrated. ALU offers a brilliant innovative and modern approach, this is an opportunity I would’ve taken myself if I was back in Africa for my tertiary studies. That’s not possible now but I am so glad to have nonetheless found a different path of involvement with ALU.

What do you think is missing in tertiary level education in Africa?
I think that what is missing is an edge to the vision that Africa could have for its current generation. It is important to learn from models that work, look at our neighbours and be inspired from successful ideas. Yet every model works within a certain historical and cultural context. I think that the African model of tertiary education should recognize and adapt to the society that it is working with and that it wants to make grow, in a sustainable way.

There are so many readily available research findings out there today that can widen our understanding of how to re-engineer and readapt some fundamental systems and practices. I also have much more faith in people being successful by doing what they are passionate about rather than following a pre-planned path. Structures that encourage finding a passion that can translate into a career are possible to put into place, if we were convinced of the benefits of this approach. I feel like too many young people go into fields that are ‘popular ideas’ of money-making careers. I don’t think that is a sustainable track. We do need prosperous leaders, but happy and truly virtuous ones before all. Therefore social training and life skills have to be core parts of the deal too.


How do you think ALU can fill in the missing piece?
The above comments are actually what I believe in and found out during my own university experience. It gives me incredible hope to see that some great people and leaders, like the ALU team, are already jumping in with both feet. They are already solving part of the issue by trying out this innovative approach; a combination of old and new practices, adapting the syllabus to contemporary Africa, enhancing the importance of real-world experiences, trying out new teaching methods, and a strong belief in human potential.

Real change takes time, but quality takes over quantity in any case. ALU is aiming at a program that will focus on shaping leaders in a qualitative way. Even if it didn’t work out, the project that is being taken on here is revolutionary and represents the kind of efforts that truly can positively gear the growth of the African continent. Knowledge is power, and even more so across a continent where too much power has been in the hands of too few people, for too long. The value contained in the education of young motivated people cannot possibly be overrated, and ALU has taken a step forward while realizing that imagination is even more important than knowledge. The vision has to spread, and ALU is hopefully leading the spread.

What do you think would be the ultimate revolutionary move on ALU’s part?
Truly Accessible Education. I think that Africa holds an incredible spirit and Africans often seem to carry along an unnamed richness, a different energy. I hope that ALU continues to be interested in those students who really show talent or passion for leadership, and different kinds of leadership too, not simply those who have the money to pay. It would be a miracle if we could have high-quality tertiary education at truly minimal costs. Thinking in terms of a long-term investment for the continent, more than a quick success story. This calls upon innovating with sustainability in mind; environmental stewardship, economic prosperity and social well-being.