On October 31, Uniting Distant Stars Vocational Training Center held a general meeting. These meetings bring students and staff together to provide information and solicit feedback. Some shared how this is the first school they have attended in Liberia that “has so much respect for students”. Also, some commented on how this “is the only school that gets the students’ views before making any administrative decisions”. As you may recall in our last newsletter, we shared a video on how we are a youth-driven organization and the students’ feedback confirm this notion.
Additionally, the instructors talked about how much they appreciate the benefit of learning another trade. As a small institution, we pay a small monthly stipend so we added an incentive to learn a trade for free. Many of our instructors take advantage of this opportunity.
Introducing Uniting Distant Stars Instructors
Now we like to introduce you to our instructors and what other roles they play at Uniting Distant Stars. From the photo below we will start from the top photo and go left to right then down to the bottom two photos left to right as follows:
Michael Gaye, Event Decoration Co-Instructor (started in 2019). The class enrollment grew this year, so he has a co-instructor and he is learning from him.
Frank Tugbeh, Catering Instructor (started in 2018). He has a catering business on the side and continues to share his knowledge with the students.
Emmanuel Duwah, Cosmetology Instructor (started in 2019). He is active in his career as a hairstylist.
Myrtle Stoe, Hotel Management Teachers Assistant (started in 2019). She graduated from this course in 2019 and started assisting the instructor, Amed Saah Blama (not pictured). She also serves as the registrar and does other administrative duties. This year she enrolled in event decoration.
Nelson S. Borlay, Academy Principal and Vocational Training Administration (started in 2018). He is enrolled in catering.
Kelvin Fomba, Auto Mechanics & Computer Instructors. He wears many hats including Co-Founder & Country Director and will help anywhere that is needed.
Boakai Dillion, Electrician Instructor (started in 2018). He is a 2017/2018 graduate and took over for the ailing instructor in 2018. Boakai is started helping with administrative duties last year and wants to continue to grow with the organization.
Daniel Williams, Event Decoration Co-Instructor (started 2020). He comes with extensive experience in event decorating, thus the reason why Michael wants to learn from him. He is also enrolled as an electrician student.
Askia D. Nyandibo, Plumbing Instructor (started in 2019). He currently works as a plumber.
Jerry Paypay, Tailoring Instructor (started in 2018). He makes time from his busy tailoring business to teach your students how to make and repair clothes and other items.
When you invest in young people of any nation, you are developing the leaders of tomorrow. Your continued support provides leadership development with our youth. In July, the students elected their student council from a field of interested candidates. They planned an installment program for their new leaders and to celebrate their accomplishments in their given courses.
As they were planning their program, Jackson George (Consul General of the Minnesota Liberian Consulate) contacted us about visiting our center during his trip to Liberia. The original plan was to have him visit on July 30, but this became a holiday for the senatorial election, so the students decided to invite him to their program so he could endorse their leadership and be their guest speaker.
Jackson enjoyed being part of this program and meeting our students. When asked in an email if he had anything to share about his visit he responded, “I just want people to know about the great work you are doing to help the people of Liberia. It was a learning and exciting process for me.” Everyone is very grateful to Jackson for making this a successful and memorable program.
The program started with the students from the various courses showcasing what they have learned during the first third of their term.
Your students showcasing what they have learned (left to right, top to bottom): Catering, Computer, Cosmetology, Electrician, Plumbing, and Tailoring students
Next, Jackson shared motivational words with the students about the benefits of learning a trade and also how to use social media to share what they are learning and to connect with people.
Jackson George, Consul General of Minnesota Liberian Consulate, inspiring UDS students to achieve their goals and make a difference
Jackson followed his talk by endorsing our new Student Council who will be serving until they graduate next year.
Congrats to the 2018/2019 Uniting Distant Stars Student Council!
New Student Council (left to right): Teddy Jr, Ngayenga (President), Caraton M. Mahn (Vice President), Sylvester T. Yeah Jr (Secretary-general), Emmanuel L. Tarr (Financially secretary), Abraham C. Morgan (advisor), Zawida Gaylee (Treasurer), & Aujustine Kouadio (Chaplain)
Enoch Daniel Tarr wrote the song, “Education is Better Than Silver & Gold” for UDS.
One of our computer students, Enoch Daniel Tarr, from 2016 wrote a song to promote Uniting Distant Stars Vocational Training Center. Enoch is 16 years old and wanted to express his gratitude for our programs through music.
Our creative and talented board member, Anna Bertch, created a music video of Enoch’s song with photos of all our courses. Please enjoy listening to this uplifting song that will get you moving with the music.
Minnesota; June 28, 2014: On Sunday, June 29, Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) will be announcing our newest scholarship students in Liberia for the 2014/2015 school year. Kelvin Fomba, UDS Country Director, was invited to the Russ Wood school’s closing program and this is where he will announce the six new scholarship students that have been added to our program.
We are also happy to announce that we have been selected as one of the recipients of the Improve Group‘s 2014 Pro Bono Initiative. This free consulting service will start on July 1 and focus on our strategic planning. This is a very exciting opportunity for our developing international non-profit and we look forward to working with our consultant from Improve Group.
Uniting Distant Stars, Inc. is a Minnesota registered non-profit serving youth in Liberia, West Africa. We have been providing educational support since 2011 with scholarships and distributing school supplies. We also offer innovative programming to cultivate future leaders. For more information, please contact us at [email protected].
Since our return from Liberia in September, we have been reviewing the data we gathered from the young men and women who participated in our two-day workshop. One of the documents that our young participants completed was a pre-workshop information form. This form listed ten questions focusing on problem solving, helping others, character building and much more. The purpose of this form was to better understand these young mindsets before they were challenged by the two-day creative and innovative thinking workshop.
One of the questions asked on this form was “what are three qualities you find important in a leader?” When reviewing these forms a few days before the workshop, we were quite impressed by their responses. Clearly, they can visualize what makes a good leader despite being confronted examples of corrupt leadership. So, it seems fitting that their thoughtful effort be shared with a greater audience.
How does one best convey what these young Liberian men and women named are important leadership attributes? Well, it was not going to be easy, because there were 54 respondents and some of the qualities were mentioned more than once. Of course the obvious option would be to publish a simple list that would start with the most important trait at the top. However, it would do little to symbolize what they saw as the ideal leader.
This graphic has many layers to its design. The leadership qualities that were mentioned more than once were carefully laid out within the national borders of Liberia. The green background with the brown edging represents Liberia’s lush rain forest and fertile ground, which is ready to be planted with the purposeful seeds of these emerging leaders. The color and size of each word represents the number of times a particular quality was mentioned.
Here are the most commonly named qualities:
Patient: selected 9 times
Respectful: selected 7 times
Innovative and Visionary: selected 6 times each
Committed, Compassionate, Good Listener, Humble & Open: selected 5 times each
Green qualities: selected 4 times each
Yellow qualities: selected 3 times each
Red qualities: selected 2 times each
This word cloud was not able to accommodate all the qualities that were chosen. Therefore, the illustration below shows the “The Honorable Mentions” for the leadership traits that were only selected once.
Both visuals will be included in our workshop next October when we return to Liberia. As we prepare for next year, we want to continue to find creative and thoughtful ways to capture what these young people expressed before, during and after the workshop. There is much to be gained from their insights and perspectives about the world. Let’s face it…our young men and women around the world are the next leaders in business, government, academia and so forth. This is why we value their input and inspire them to become the next great leaders of the 21st century.