Growth week at African Leadership College (ALC), ALU’s campus in mauritius is a period, usually a week, where we pause as a community and reflect on the journey we have embarked on so far. It gives us the opportunity to understand where we are and where we want to be. It is also a time for individuals to assess their contributions not just to the ALU community, but to the wider society. During this period we ask ourselves questions like “What have I accomplished? How did I accomplish it? What do I hope to accomplish in the coming months?”
The week is also a time to try and experience new and cool activities. Students, staff and faculty, volunteer to teach skills that they are proficient at. Volunteering to teach others a skill is beneficial for both the learner and the teacher because teaching others what you know is actually a form of reflection. Being able to understand an idea well enough to convey it to others will help you internalize it yourself. Internalizing and understanding our ideas is the whole point of Growth Week at ALC and the whole ALC learning experience. We have peer learning sessions such as poetry workshops, prototyping websites and applications using Gravit or Sketch, coding lessons, fitness camp, yoga, meditation, dance, blogging, photography and even lessons on how to draw portraits.
To begin the week, I met with my adviser in the cafeteria first thing in the morning to discuss my plans for Growth Week. (To be honest, I was mapping them out in my head as I approached her but don’t tell her). She was already deep in conversation with a couple of students so I sank into my seat amidst the hubbub of the cafeteria. We talked about missing home cooking then I spilled my plans for the upcoming week. I had decided to revisit my swimming lessons, re-do some of my assignments so that I could improve my grades and brush up my French skills as well as engage in some of the Growth Week challenges the community was participating in.
I started off my second day with a green smoothie. Here’s the recipe…
Then I got to sit in a website and application prototyping session. A website prototype is basically any mockup or demo of what a website will look like when it goes live. It can be anything from a paper sketch, to a clickable HTML prototype. The aim of the session was to help us realize concepts of what our personal projects would look like. Although I was a tad late. Okay 30 minutes late, I said it. I did, however, learn a thing or two. We first set out by trying to understand what we want the applications we wanted to build to look like in groups of four. Then, we sketched it out on Google slides using a combination of lines and shapes. We followed that with visualizations on Gravit, an online design tool that lets you create illustrations within your browser. Mastering this skill, our facilitator pointed out, takes hours of practice.
I’ve got candlelight dancing and photography lessons to look forward to for the rest of Growth week. Learning, in my opinion, is a process that evolves with us as we seek to understand ourselves and our place in the world and Growth week provides the right space to do just that.