How quickly two weeks flies by when its packed full of meeting new people, going to new places, meeting with businesses, preparing workshops, developing resources, adjusting to a new culture that completely consumes us, and trying to get a few hours of sleep in after absorbing it all.
Our first big workshop, as part of the All Girls Leadership Summit, approached quickly without us really noticing. We ran around the day before getting hand-outs printed, putting together participant packages, and putting some final touches on the presentation; we finally felt ready. We arrived early to the YMCA Vocational Training Institute Thursday morning to set up our workshop venue before the participants began to arrive.
Slowly, the girls from the YMCA school trickled in, helping where they can for us to prepare for the rest. Finally, everything was set up and ready to go. We awaited the young women. Keeping in mind “Ghana time”, we patiently waited and waited. Eventually, all the expected participants (plus some) arrived from Golden Gate Secondary High School, Nana Brempong Yaw Primary High School, and local church groups and we began our first Girls Leadership workshop with around 50 girls between the ages of 12 and 30.
Like everywhere we’ve been in Ghana, we were welcomed by our hosts with smiling faces, kindness, and attentiveness. We started the day with an activity to boost self-esteem amongst ourselves by writing compliments on pieces of paper for fellow participants. This activity highlighted the importance of self-esteem and confidence in leaders, especially female leaders, and led to each girl signing a personal commitment to loving themselves and paying it forward.
In this workshop, we proceeded to talk about important qualities of leaders and used reflective practices to look at our own leadership traits. Once we covered the basics of leadership, the Millennium Development goals (MDGs) were discussed, a new topic for many. We ended the workshop with 8 groups of participants who each presented everything related to each particular MDG and then highlighted the trends that extended across them all, showing their interconnectedness.
After assigning homework to each participant to boost the self-esteem of girls in their family, school, or community, and to consider what Millennium Development Goal they wanted to develop a community project for, there was a sense of positivity and accomplishment in the room with each person leaving with a little bit more knowledge and a little bit more confidence.
Overall, the workshop received positive feedback from all of the participants with suggestions on how the next one can be even better.
As I sit (on the floor) in the living room of my homestay with my host brothers all around (wondering why I’m sitting on the floor and not the couch), I ready myself for the next workshop, which is just around the corner, through the creation of more resources, more activities, and hopefully a little inspiration that each girl can carry with them as they move forward as leaders in their communities.
–Erica Downes, Youth Ambassador, Ghana, 2014