Hello all. Sorry I've been quiet. Work and life has been busy and I don't have access to wifi. I wrote this a couple months ago after I spoke at a training with Jubilee.
About two months ago, a team of us traveled to Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka, for Youth Empowerment Workshop. This workshop was organized by Jubilee Centre - the NGO where David is the Director of Media. The focus of the workshop was to empower youth for their future, to find their passion, their career path, and to set goals in order to become successful in fulfilling their career path. Our team was made up of Pastor Temfwe - CEO of Jubilee Centre and my Father-in-law, Dr. Chipepo - her inspring story can be read and watched in an earlier blog post, David - who organized and documented the event, Chi Chi - who helped facilitate between sessions and myself.
David wrote a nice article briefly describing the impact of this workshop which I will find and attach later. He also has lots of photos from the event. I have included some of my own reflections:
The session I led was all about applying the teachings of Pastor Temfwe and Dr. Chipepo. I was there to teach and encourage the students to set goals. Seems pretty simple right? We’ve been learning to set goals every since kindergarten.... Not so! This truly is a new and abstract concept to a lot of youth in Zambia. When we led the same workshop in Ndola, I had planned this wonderful hour time of teaching S.M.A.R.T. Goals, assuming it would be simple enough to have different worksheets on goals, both social and educational along with short term and long term. Then as I was talking, the faces told me they were lost. The voices expressed cluelessness when it came to any type of goal. We even struggled through the first word of S.M.A.R.T Goals... Specific. We could hardly get past what specific even means. They are mostly all high school graduates - college aged and young adults. I finished the time feeling like I could cry for a number of reasons:
How could these children (adults in the USA) never have been taught to set goals?
In a country where the official language is English and the students have completed their primary and secondary education and many are in university, why are words like specific and realistic not making sense? Why are none of the women speaking up for themselves the way the men do? Why do the girls only want to be nurses and teachers and why do the boys exclusively have lofty dreams of being the president and rich business men. Why are some of them not listening and respecting me as I am volunteering my time to teach and help them? Do any of them care? Do any of the students have parents and family members who can help them? Why do they all keep saying they aren’t working and they aren’t going to school because they are just waiting for someone to support them financially? The questions and thoughts flooding my mind were heartbreaking. The Ndola workshop was beyond difficult.
And I actually accepted the opportunity to once again, teach to same session?
That’s right. As I prepared for the same workshop in Lusaka, I scrapped most, if not all, of my previous planning and teaching. Instead of starting with defining goals and sharing the goals of the group, we started with the question, “What problems do you see in your community and even more generally in the world?” The George, Lusaka youth really went deep into specific problems that they face everyday (and they even knew the word “specific!”). They didn’t just say their goal was to become a doctor and a president. Most of them let the discussion on problems sink in and they applied the previous teachings about passion. The students began sharing realistic goals of changing their community in the form of solving specific problems, close to home. One student wants to solve the problem of having access to medical care for children in their community, because the only clinic nearby doesn’t have a pediatrician. One student is first working to become a teacher and then will be able to support herself through law school to eventually solve problems of injustice. Another student is working on his carpentry business and is seeking to provide the community with quality hand crafted furniture. The list goes on and on.
Yes there is a large gap between the education and exposure of the students in Lusaka and the students in Ndola. Yes a significant factor in why the session was so meaningful and successful with the Lusaka students. However, my approach truly made a difference. It’s not just about asking children what they want to be when they grow up. It’s all about asking students what they care about and why. It’s about passion. It’s about holy discontent (great book by Billy Hybels). It’s about what fuels their fire whether negative or positive. It’s all about what problem they want to solve in the world.
Please, encourage those younger than you to consider this. Young people, encourage yourselves, your peers and people above your age to consider this. I encourage you to consider this. Is your career solving a problem? Are the activities that you are involved in for a greater good or are you chasing the wind?
I am thankful for the way God shaped and formed my career path desires. As I shared with the youth in Lusaka, I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t come up with a specific career as a child and stick with it. I saw a problem on a mission trip when I was 17 years old and my heart broke for children who didn’t have access to education. I saw children when I was 20 years old who wanted to learn English but had no English teacher. I saw the cycle of poverty and the impact that education has on empowerment and alleviation of poverty and violence. God showed me a problem that breaks His heart and it broke mine, too. Teaching isn’t easy and it doesn’t make the big bucks, but everyday I feel purpose and passion as I empower, provide exposure, educate, question, love and laugh with young children.
What is your passion? What is the problem? What is your goal?