Press Release: 2014/2015 Scholarships & Pro Bono Consulting Recipient

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]

 

Liberian Youth Define Leadership Qualities

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.

So, the next option was to illustrate their ideas in what is known as a word cloud (i.e. tag cloud) as shown below.

 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:

  1. Patient: selected 9 times
  2. Respectful: selected 7 times
  3. Innovative and Visionary: selected 6 times each
  4. Committed, Compassionate, Good Listener, Humble & Open: selected 5 times each  
  5. Green qualities: selected 4 times each
  6. Yellow qualities: selected 3 times each
  7. 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.