MARIE JOCELYNE KANGAH
One Year Later
Since returning home from Philadelphia, what has been your most successful achievement or accomplishment related to leadership in civic engagement?
My most successful achievement is the creation of my association: Association Dansé Abobo (ADA). Abobo is a ghetto and poor area and is well known for the violence and poverty. However, I have noticed so much more intelligence and creativity in the area is known. So, I wanted to bring to light this part of the story and contribute to the creation of excellence in education in the area. I actually developed this idea in my time at Drexel with the fellowship and when I got back I contacted some people, including two MWF alumni who had or have connections with this municipality. The idea is to strive for excellence in education for the youth of this municipality. We have many activities that we have launched – the association in general, a Christmas party with more than 200 children (the children of this area do not have many opportunities to enjoy this), we book meetings and educational outings, we have educational trainings, and we are opening the library, computer learning center, and community center. We did our first main activity in March with an author named Josué Guébo who is also the former president of the National Association of writers. It was in the high school with more than 300 students – it is great because great writers do not often visit Abobo and this gave the students the opportunity to meet someone they would never otherwise meet and it was a great success. Since then we have a pause to our activities due to covid-19 but recently in June we organized outings with more than 20 students of a primary school to a job center where they discovered jobs that they may not have otherwise been exposed to.
How have you engaged with fellow MWF alumni since returning home?
Well I am working with other MWF alumni on my association. Sometimes for activities we have talked about also reaching out to other alumni to join activities or bring in other expertise and communications. In December or January, another alumni organized a mentorship activity that I participated in as well.
Have you maintained contact with people from the Philadelphia area, if so, who and how?
Sometimes I write to Adam. I also have been writing with two people that I met during my time in Philadelphia who are Africans but living in Philadelphia. I keep in touch with them and sometimes we talk. One of them is from Guinea near my country and we have talked about how we could maybe do something together between my country and theirs. However, it has not come about because of the situation with Covid-19. I also talk a bit with my peer collaborator, but I hope to be better and talk with her even more.
What do you miss most about Philadelphia and Drexel?
The people, I am missing the people, the Korean food, but mostly the people. I did not feel out of place in Philadelphia, I felt very at home. The people there were so wonderful – Adam, you, Annd – all of the people at the university.
Talk about your 3 biggest take-aways from your time at Drexel and the Fellowship.
· 1- I developed networking skills – I am shy so in the past it was difficult to approach people and engage conversation, but this is one of the things that the fellowship changed most in my life.
· 2- My communication skills, I have developed so many good communication skills.
· 3- I am less afraid today – I feel like I can do things that I did not think I could do before. I am not afraid of taking the risk now.
What would you pass on to future Drexel fellowship cohorts?
It is a great opportunity if you give yourself over to learning the skills to really make the most of it – you will achieve great things after – most of the impact is what you do after but all of that is prepared through in what you learn during the fellowship. If you can manage well the time that you have in classes but especially after classes by going to meet people and inspire yourself with the people you meet, that will have a big impact, so I have to say use every second wisely.
It would be great to organize like a reunion meeting where each year we meet up in a different Africa country. To not keep only virtual these relationships but be able to connect in person as alumni.
See the link of Facebook page her association: https://www.facebook.com/Association-Dans%C3%A9-Abobo-101953094734409/