By Maipelo N’Guessan, Raheem Amany, Joy Sebera
The International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) recently hosted for the first time the 11th annual AISA Global Issues Service Summit (AISA GISS) from 16 - 18 January, 2020. The summit was a great success and saw the participation of more than 120 student delegates and 22 advisers coming from 14 international schools and representing 10 countries with the support of 5 local sponsors! A number of schools were participating in AISA GISS for the first time ever. Over a period of three days, delegates engaged in a variety of activities connected to our summit theme N’Zassa: Together we are whole. The word ‘N’Zassa’ means ‘mixture’ in the Akan languages spoken by several ethnic groups in Cote d’Ivoire. It is usually used to describe a traditional cloth made of small pieces of fabric that, taken in isolation, are not useful for much, but once sewn together results in a beautiful piece with better functionality and aesthetic value. This word can also be used to describe the value of mixing cultures, ideas, and concepts to improve desired outcomes. By using ‘N’Zassa’ symbolism, we explored the importance of the collaborative contribution of all members of the society in addressing global issues and attaining sustainable development through our theme pillars of collaboration, growth and interdependence.
The keynote speeches empowered us as global citizens to make a difference, irrespective of age, gender, race, etc. The conference was fortunate enough to have been able to host speakers with a wide range of subjects to speak about, with Sarah Crawford talking about the conservation of chimpanzees through her NGO and the impact of collaboration on their efforts, Khérann Yao discussing his collaboration with UNICEF on the green schools project aimed at promoting sustainability education in local Ivorian schools, Andy Costa addressing the significance of green transportation, particularly cycling, for the health of the body and of the planet, and finally Jean Jacques Yao’s presentation on Cote d’ivoire Habitat for Humanity’s quest for access to decent housing and clean water for all.
The student workshops provided an outlet for the delegates not only to explore solutions to the many issues plaguing our continent, but also to give insight about the challenges faced in their countries and the significance it has on their everyday lives. The workshops consisted of student-led interactive presentations that enabled the delegates to exchange new ideas and express their personal visions for how they want the world around them to shape up. For many delegates, the student workshops were personal favourites of the conference because it was much easier for them to identify with and give their inputs when the activities are led by other students. A total of fourteen workshops were presented under the following titles:
- Tree Planting Project
- Tired of the bake-sale?
- A reevaluation of charity from the African perspective
- Bustling Beehive
- Waste is not waste until it is completely wasted
- Building Blocks
- Ethical Community Based Engagement
- Bridging Barriers
- Switch of a Light
- Service Learning Trips and how to carry out meaningful service projects
- Away with Donations
- Dynamite C.O.R.T.T
- A.I.M FOR THE STARS
- Step Up by Stepping Down on Plastics
Sustainability Team Challenges/Village activity
The Sustainability Team Challenges were the delegates’ primary method of interacting and brainstorming solutions to the challenges faced across the globe. Each led by ICSA student leadership team, the Sustainability Teams consisted of students from all of the schools mixed together to ensure that the feeling on N’Zassa was represented as they explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how they impact our daily lives. Furthermore, the delegates were able to question each other, learn together, and grow together in a safe and diverse environment. The Sustainability Team Challenges culminated in a sustainability fair, where each team presented their findings on the Sustainable Development Goals as well as viable service projects related to them, which demonstrated how educational the Sustainability Team Challenges were and how much thought the delegates put into improving their society.
N’Zassa Sustainability Panels
Delegates had the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with various community changemakers through several expert panels. The themes of the panels were inspired by the 5Ps of development and the topics of discussion were based on the UN sustainable development goals. The goal for the panels was to explore how various sectors of the community work together (hence demonstrate N'Zassa) to achieve sustainable development. Each panel comprised two to four experts and were moderated by student leaders debating the following themes:
- Planet : The fight against climate change and the preservation of our ecosystems
- People : No poverty and zero hunger
- Partnership : Partnerships between governments, private sectors and public society
- Peace : Peace justice and strong institutions
- Prosperity : Reduced inequalities and sustainable communities
- Pan - Africanism: Economic growth and quality education
Service Day Projects
A major highlight of AISA GISS 2020 was the day of service projects that allowed our delegates to get to know the local community better, to be aware of community needs and to learn more about ICSA’s collaboration with community partners through the service-learning program. The following day of service projects were carried out across five sites in Abidjan
o Clean-up campaign in Gonzagueville with Association Imagine le Monde (AIM).
o Creation of a nursery hosting 30 000 plants to support reforestation activities by local schools in Akouedo with the Ivorian Ministry of Forests and Green Ivory NGO.
o Technology projects to serve the community (creation of a smart garden, e-bike transformation, do-it-together drone) in Abobo with SOS Village.
o Creation of murals using african print cloth and beautification of a children's play area in Adjame with CAVOEQUIVA NGO (women’s shelter).
o Completion and painting of the first ever classroom cupboards in six classrooms in Anono Primary School with Education and English For You (EEFY) NGO.
Empowered to act and make a difference in their local communities through lessons learned from the various activities offered during AISA GISS 2020, delegates gathered one last time for the closing ceremony. Delegates got to enjoy once more the rich ivorian culture through a traditional dance performance by Krimbo Dance Group, followed by closing remarks delivered by Mrs. Maipelo N’Guessan, AISA GISS 2020 site coordinator. To celebrate our interdependence, collaboration and growth through AISA GISS 2020, and to remember the good moments we had, each school received an N’Zassa cloth made with pieces of fabric brought from each school’s home countries. The International Community School of Addis Ababa received the first N’Zassa cloth to symbolize the passing of the torch for the organization of the next AISA GISS.
About the Authors
Maipelo N’Guessan is the PreK-12 Service Learning and CAS Coordinator at the International Community School of Abidjan. She served as the AISA GISS 2020 Site Coordinator.
Raheem Amany and Joy Sebera are Grade 12 students at the International Community School of Abidjan. They served as the AISA GISS 2020 Student Chair and Co-Chair respectively.