Local learner ready to tackle youth matters

24 May 2018 | People

Leandrea Louw - Tuilika Andreas, a grade 12 learner at Duinesig Combined School inWalvis Bay, was among the lucky persons to be selected for the Pan-African Youth Leadership Program.

She was one of three Namibians selected. The other two are Paavo Nepaka from Ongwediva and Shaun Adams from Windhoek. Delvia Jimmy is their mentor.

The three-week exchange programme took place in and around Washington DC, in the United States of America. It is fully funded by the US State Department and implemented by the Meridian International Centre.

The programme aims to enhance civic engagement, consensus building and leadership skills of young people from Sub-Saharan African countries. It also promotes mutual understanding, sustainable partnerships and relationships among the United States of America and Sub-Saharan African participants, as well as provide continued support in the implementation of projects and involve a broader audience in learning and teaching opportunities.

Andreas spoke to Erongo about her journey to the USA.

“We visited various states in the USA. Our first stop was in Atlanta, Georgia. The flights were extremely tiresome. In Atlanta, we visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King preached, the World of Coca-Cola museum and the Georgia aquarium. We were welcomed with open arms by the community, and were treated like fellow brothers and sisters by everyone.”

The40 participants including adult mentors were split into two groups.

"Our group went to Muncie, Indiana, while the other group went to Austin, Texas. This was an amazing experience. Apart from the fact that Muncie is more in the countryside, it is home to the kindest people, and home to snow too! We had sessions at the Ball State University where we met with different professors and students engaging in community development.”

Group members were hosted by families in the area, and Tuilika lived with the Lakes, an amazing family who treated her as their daughter. They also went on sightseeing tours.

“For me the most remarkable was visiting Corner Prairie, which resembles a museum of people pretending to live in the past.”

After two weeks in Muncie, the two groups met in Washington DC where they pitched their presentations.

“As a group, we had to come up with a community project and ours was called ‘Talk Phobia’. We created awareness of the need for parents to sit down with their teenage children and talk about sexual related matters. We also encouraged peer to peer conversations and reaching out to those in authority in order to eradicate the fear of talking about sex, which is seen as taboo in many rural areas. We are planning to implement this project through the platform of first lady Monica Geingos, as one of our group members Shaun Adams and our mentor Delvia Jimmy are part of her ‘Be Free’ campaign.”

Andreas is also looking forward to speak to the youth of Walvis Bay about opportunities offered by the US embassy.

“The local youth group I am a member of, Young Achievers, will be hosting a career fair soon together with the Johannes Shikoyeni Trust. I would like to start a girls club, as my greatest desire is to regenerate a sense of self worth in young girls my age and younger.”

Andreas lists the highlight of her journey to the States the relationships she built with African and Americans.

"These relationships do not only serve as a source of information about opportunities. I also see them as valuable friendships that will never be broken.”

She says the experience changed her and made het realise that it is important to always trust her abilities and to never let her past consume her.

“It taught me how much strength there is in an individual’s mindset. It helped me discover who I truly am; my strengths and my weaknesses. I learned to work with different characters, the risk-takers, the reflectors and the pressure-oriented people. I learned how to cope with limited time, to always plan and to be on time. Most importantly, I can now introduce myself to people as a young girl with a vision to tackle all kinds of inequality through God’s word, and by encouraging young people to work hard and aim for personal growth.”

She proclaims that “Americans are not who we think they are”.

“They are warm people who strive by all means to create a convivial world for all humanity. They are not blunt or aggressive. They respect time management and progress. My mindset about them totally changed and I would not mind living with them. The young people there are vibrant. They are involved in matters affecting them and the country at large. They are for example not petrified by who is in the presidential seat.”

She advises her fellow youth to never limit themselves.

“One of our biggest problems is that we belittle ourselves because we feel our flaws disable us. Young people should work hard to achieve their goals. Remember, persistence is key. There is no magic formula or phrase you can repeat to make yourself succeed. Remember, excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way. I'm looking forward to working with young people in my community to create long-lasting change in our Namibian society.”

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