The first day of the Global Citizenship Conference started with a true Ghanaian welcome, that saw all attendees of the conference being greeted with drum music and a brief meet and greet ceremony. Melton Fellows, partners and friends of the Melton Foundation from different parts of the world were more than happy to see each other and the welcome reception was filled with hugs, friendship and laughter. Some of the Junior Fellows who participated in a home stay program prior to the conference, arrived at the Welcome Reception with their with their local families. We all clicked some pictures, danced to the drum beats before gathering at the Norton-Motulsky Hall at the Ashesi University College campus for the most awaited event of the GCC - The Springboard Sessions.
Shortly after the Welcome Reception, Alafia Stewart, Melton Foundation Senior Fellows from Dillard University and our Mistress of Ceremony for the night, opened the Springboard Sessions with a listening activity, where conference participants were reminded that active listening is an important part of being a Global Citizen. Our Executive Director, Winthrop Carty, then took over to deliver a welcome address that opened the #GhanaGCC2017 and gave us a sneak peak into what was coming for the night. He then invited Patrick G. Awuah Jr. to the stage. Patrick Awuah, and engineer, educator, and entrepreneur, established Ashesi University in 2002. He was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 2015 for his work with Ashesi. A truly inspiring man, he shared with us the ideas with which Ashesi University - a Melton Foundation partner since 2014 - was founded and what being a Global Citizen means to him.
Then came our first Springboard Speaker, the commendable Farida Bedwei. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one, Farida has refused to let her disability affect her career trajectory. Today, she is considered one of the most influential women in financial technology on the continent. She pointed out that while there are some parts of us that don’t work, we must work with the parts that do and we can make change happen.
Next up was Nana Akwasi Awuah! A lawyer by profession and social activist by heart, he successfully organized the historic #OccupyFlagstaffHouse protest and is co-founder of the CitizenGhana Movement. He spoke to the participants about how activism is important in today’s world and how we global citizens can do our bit.
Shortly after Nana Akwasi Awauh’s address, the Springboard Sessions broke into rigorous drumming, melodic tunes and deliberate dance moves: The chief’s palace music group graced this year’s Springboard Sessions with traditional music from Berekuso.
Renee C Neblett, our third speaker for the evening, then took the stage to share her very personal story of growth as global citizen and how this led her to found a beautiful space of encounter, sharing and learning: the Kokrobitey Institute. Reflecting about her experiences of living in Ghana for the last twenty years and her journey through a world outside her home, she culminated in a powerful call to action: “I would not want to drown my life in protest, but much rather build something meaningful.”
Our fourth speaker, Sangu Delle, had everyone on the edge of their seats, when he told us how a copy of a magazine he followed, had declared Africa as the hopeless continent. It was at that time that he decided to change that narrative, and began to dream of a #AfricaRising. His parting words, “Be foolish, be bold, be humble” etched a mark on everyone present.
Our final speaker, Shadrack Frimpong, made a big impression on us when sharing his journey of entrepreneurship. Working on solving the disparity in women’s education, he has founded Cocoa360, a tuition-free girls’ school and hospital situated amid a cocoa plantation in Tarkwa-Breman, a village in Ghana’s Western Region. Shadrack’s very words, “you can do your bit, no matter where you come from” left us thinking about how far we’ve all come as Global Citizens.
The night concluded with a ‘Springboard Connects’ hosted Esi Ansah, where all our speakers graced the stage to discuss important issues and questions raised by the audience. From remarks about activism, to how to succeed when you fail, the very moving panel conversation shed light on numerous issues that any global citizen should keep in mind.
Executive Director Winthrop Carty then wrapped up by presenting a small token of appreciation to our speakers and encouraging the attendees to think and explore all that they had experienced during the course of the Springboard Sessions.
With a new vigor, the attendees departed to have a lovely Ghanaian dinner and some rest to get ready for an action packed week to come. Read on here ...
And this is how everything began - check it out.