In July 2017 we conducted a summer school at Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Here is a testimonial written by one of our star students, Mucktarr Raschid, who is now interning and doing research for Professors Without Borders.
The PROWIBO team arrived on our campus in July 2017 while we were having the Law of Evidence lecture. It was an interruption to the class, but as we later discovered during the first five minutes after Mr. Walker introduced the team, it was a worthy interruption. The team of professors engaged our class for forty minutes during which we were able to ask them questions about their mission and academic work. They were very appealing and responsive to all the questions we asked. The team was willing to entertain as many questions and comments as possible. This interactive introduction with the professors made me optimistic. I knew straight away that we were in from a great academic ride through the summer school.
On the second day the PROWIBO team arrived very early at the Law Department and were ready to lecture. The 2017 Summer School Textbooks were distributed among students who were present that morning. The team was divided into three groups respectively; Charlie’s Global Finance class, Yanoh’s Community Health class and Yuan’s International Politics class.
The first class I attend was the Global Finance because I am passionate about that area of study. I strongly subscribe to the view that Africa is in dire need for economic emancipation, so the Global Finance lecture ranks first in my scale of preference among the other classes. Unsurprisingly, the lecture was very interesting and I must confess I learnt a lot of new things. Throughout the two weeks the team was available at the campus.
I attended the Global Finance class first. We discussed a whole lot of topics ranging from wealth creation, economic challenges to Africa’s development, including corruption, taxation and government expenditure, afro beats music, and automation. We learnt that improvements in technology have affected the availability of jobs for people in Africa. I also learnt that sub-Saharan Africa must create two million jobs annually to be able to tackle the serious problem of unemployment. Automation is making the task very difficult to accomplish. How and when are we going to be able to provide these much needed jobs? These were the types of thought provoking question that Charlie’s class challenged us to think about.
After the Global Finance class, my second priority was the International Politics class. I also attended most of Yuan’s classes too. She was very accommodating and made sure that the learning process was very interactive. In her class, we discussed history, questions of power relations among states (soft and hard power) and the significance of the environment to global politics. We particularly discussed that some rivers have been accorded human attributes. For example, the Whanganui river and Yamuna river. Questions included: can a river have a separate personality? Can the river take legal action against people who abuse it? All such critical questions were factored into our class discussion over the two weeks.
One thing I personally observed with all the lectures I attended was that all the professors were so accommodating. They all made sure that the classes were very interactive and I was never bored. In the Community Health class we learnt how to identify health problems in our communities and how to provide sustainable and meaningful solutions to these problems. In this class we did a mock focus group discussion on the social problem of prostitution in the Aberdeen community. We also learnt about project implementation and methods of evaluating successes and challenges. Yanoh shared with us the story of a Christian organisation in the U.S. that wanted to assist the victims of the Rwanda genocide. They contemplated on how best they could help and they agreed that supplying containers of eggs to the communities identified would be best because the people needed protein in their diets. They shipped in the containers of eggs and distributed it in the communities, however this aid had a negative effect on the local economy of the communities. The local egg suppliers were put out of business because it was not profitable anymore to them. Some of the farmers had to sell all the chickens they once used to provide the eggs. This caused more hardship to the community rather than alleviating their problems. Yanoh explained that this is how some well-meaning projects with genuine intentions can be counterproductive. She maintained in our discussion that proper planning is key to the success of any project. Communities must be consulted before any project is implemented, if not it will be counterproductive.
During office hours the professors endeavoured to help final year students with their research project especially dissertation writing.
Another important experience that I appreciated most was the model United Nations. I was the representative for the African Union and I vehemently argued against isolation of the country which was affected by a deadly disease called “MAGOTA.” I had the opportunity to understand how representatives in the UN deliberate on issues and come out with resolutions. We also understood what a moderated and an un-moderated caucus is all about.
As a whole, it was a fantastic experience for me, one I will always be proud of. I feel privileged and honoured to have participated in the PROWIBO 2017 Summer School at Fourah Bay College.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Mucktarr!