I served as the guest speaker at the Osseo Secondary Transition Center’s (OSTC) Large Group Activity on November 21. This school serves students ages 17 to 21 with varying abilities and disabilities. OSTC provides students needed assistance to transition from school to life. Also, their programs include expanding interpersonal and job skills and building confidence. This is why Jeri Levinson, the Special Education Teacher, invited me to share our work in Liberia. She further explained that our centers share a common mission in preparing young people to be independent.
I spent the first 20 to 25 minutes sharing stories and photos of our programs. Before each course slide, I asked how many of them had dabbled in the given trade. Their responses resulted in auto mechanics, computers, cooking, and sewing as the most popular ones. I then explained how and what our students learned in their given trades such as:
- Auto mechanic students learn how to use and convert parts from other types of vehicles. I further explained how people ship vehicles from the U.S. and elsewhere but do not include the spare parts.
- Catering students bake their cakes in our charcoal powered oven, a converted upright freezer. Also, they use a coal pot to cook meals.
- Tailoring students use a treadle machine to sew clothes, uniforms, etc.
- limited to no access to electricity and running water in their home,
- high unemployment,
- high inflation, and
- little to no parental support.
Finally, I opened the floor to questions from the Osseo students, who face additional challenges of homelessness and poverty. They followed by asking several good questions about Liberia and how our students learn.
Three of the students volunteered to help. First, one boy named Dallas volunteered his graphic design skills. His first assignment is updating our banners for all our social media sites. Another two boys, Alex and Michael, will help with making videos. Their first assignment is to create marketing videos to promote our work. I look forward to working with these three teenagers.
As you can see, Uniting Distant Stars welcomes talent from anywhere. Hence, we allow people to shine their light for service to others.