#Leadyoung by Coumba Toure
I keep fond memories of my time in the Lycee Blaise Diagne more than twenty years ago our school is still surrounded by flower sellers. In the small quarters were two big buildings by the time. I remember being the only girl riding a bike to school. It was a red bike.
When I started junior high in we had a very interesting English teacher. I cannot remember her name but she seemed to be out of the box. She came a couple of time to give is class and then disappeared. Everything we did or say did not result in her coming back or a new teacher being sent to us.
When it was English class time, we took care of ourselves, we were free to roam in and out of school, and we went to our friend’s houses not far from the school.
We were also on strike every year for at least one month every year. There was even a year when we were on strike from January to the end of the year and we end up having all to retake that year. I even had enough time to write my first novel two hundred and thirty two page of science fiction. Most people who had financial means sent their children to private schools.
On that first year of junior high because our English teacher was never present, a small group of us started gathering and we created an English club to teach ourselves and this mainly trough songs. Not long after the creation of our club a larger club Padec decided to organize a gathering of all English clubs of Senegal and our little group was invited.
We must have been cut with our little group of twelve and thirteen years old. Aboubacar and Alpha, the Thiam brother’s leaders of Padec took us under their wings and it changed everything for many of us. When we join this larger club I started learning more English through films, theatre etc.… And I was involve that summer in organizing a summer course for children and adolescents from the district of Patte D’oie and Grand Yoff and Cité millionaire I was in charge of children who just finished primary school and would do their first year of English the next year.
I was so proud of being this little teacher of kids only one or two years younger even some my own age
I had to prepare to teach my English classes so I had to learn more to be a good teacher. I used different techniques; music and stories were at core of it.
The most important thing was that I learnt to communicate to organize, to do outreach to get students, to be part of coordination meetings, to plan for activities, to interact with parents.
Even though this was not the sole reason for my later engagements. This was one beginning. We create later ASCA an African cultural organization that didn’t survive and I join the Panafrican student movement as we dreamt to create the United States of Africa from the ground up. After that I never stopped.
Later as young person I worked with feminist organizations, with alternatives education organizations. To this day at the core of everything I do lays the skills, the contents and the connections I acquired through serving and working being with mentors. It is a precious gift for every young person the opportunity to create, to act, to try and to fail, to succeed and to be supported.
When we lead young everything we give comes back multiplied by the hundreds. So lead young or give a young person the opportunity to do so.