Written by Rachael Otoo
Volunteer at ACCL
Globally, the youth are often perceived as the future leaders. Due to this belief, educational empowerment is implemented to guide them to attain leadership roles. The empowerment of the youth in communities inspires them to strive for greatness. It is a moral obligation that we care for the youth and to educate them on history and historical leaders. It is imperative that they gain awareness of inspiring leaders that paved the way for them. As a result, they are likely to comprehend that it takes diligence, education, passion, perseverance and bravery to become a leader and to value community involvement.
On Friday, July 20th, 2018, there were 50 students from the International Christian Fellowship Summer Program of Lowell, a program that is ran by The Christ Jubilee International Ministries(CJIM). The age group ranges from 2 to 13 years old. The students toured the City Hall of Lowell to gain more knowledge of this historic place.
They were informed about the role of the city government and the chamber office where council meetings take place. The founder and the executive director of The African Community Center of Lowell, Mr. Gordon Halm, accompanied the students along with the summer program leaders and interns.
Mr. Halm also invited the students to visit The African Community Center of Lowell. He gave a presentation about the history and the mission of the center such as educational growth, community involvement, cultural heritage and empowerment. He focused on past and current leaders making a difference in communities and on a global scale. They took heed of the various pictures and artifacts in the room. There were beautiful African drums and paintings with evocative symbolisms.
It was a pleasant space that encouraged them to engage in a profound conversation and discover more information about the pictures of the leaders that hung on the walls. The pictures captured the necessity of the accurate representation within communities that both men and women can become leaders. One of the leaders included the first President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who fought for Ghana’s independence.
It was immensely inspiring and motivating to see most of the students, who were of African descents, gain insight of an African leader who was not only educated but also fought for Ghana and encouraged Africans to unite. Another prominent and universally-respected African leader was former President of South Africa and freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela. His dedication to end apartheid in South Africa, which condemned so many to brutal and inhumane injustice, demonstrates the true meaning of leadership. He was jailed for 28 years due to his persistent fight for freedom for his people.
Another picture was of Mr. Deval Patrick who is an African-American politician and served as a governor of Massachusetts from 2007-2015.
Emmy-award winning and African-American News Anchor of NBC Boston, Latoyia Edwards, is another important figure that the students learned about. All these leaders demonstrate that both men and women can become leaders and hold various roles in community and in the world.
The students inquired about a Chinese calligraphy on the wall. The ACCL was gifted the Chinese calligraphy from the Asian American Association of Boston (AAAB). It is translated “together we celebrate” which means “celebrating spring with heaven and earth”.
Mr. Halm emphasized to the students about the true meaning of kindness towards everyone around them. “Treat others the way you would like to be treated if you are in their position. It is a gift that you can’t physically touch or feel but should stay with you in your hearts and minds forever,” said Mr. Halm on embracing humanity. The students left with this life-changing advice which he called “The Golden Rule”.
My experience at the African Community Center of Lowell indicated the involvement and dedication of this nonprofit to empower the youths to value education, their leaders and diverse cultures. The successful leaders, both men and women, enabled them to fathom that it is possible to become a President like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah or a News Anchor, Latoyia Edwards. Every community must always work collectively to support the youth, so they can aspire to become future leaders of the world.