(By Korvah M. Fromayan, YES 2015-2016, Liberia, hosted by CIEE in West Townshend, VT)
My days in Vermont as a YES student were the best days of my life, not only because of the amazing people and the supportive environment but because of the kind of person I shaped into. The YES program helped broaden my worldview and developed a desire in me to create positive changes in my community.
Seeing many young students fail their examinations because of a lack of high-quality English language education led to me join the WEETAS project to help bring about a positive change to the Liberian education sector. This project was established with the help of a YES Alumni Grant. The Workshop for Effective English Teaching and Speaking is an English Language learning and teaching Program that was founded by YES Alumnus Emmanuel G. Godfrey with the aim of building a new generation of readers, writers and teachers who would help take the Liberian education to a new era. With this mission in focus, the 2019 WEETAS project helped participants develop creative and academic writing skills, public speaking, reading and leadership skills and as well as test taking skills for the public examinations.
The program with its aim of helping students do better on the West African English Examination was a replica of a typical U.S high school learning and teaching style as participants were divided into groups and attended various classes headed by volunteers. Each learning session was headed by a volunteer and was very interactive. Every session began with the question: What do you think? This helped participants think more creatively and critically and take ownership of what they studied.
There was an interview session where participants were video interviewed as to what they think about the program. One participant said: "When I came here, I thought I knew everything because I was always the top in my class, but this program made me realize that there is a lot more I don't know that I need to learn. I can now say that I have become even more stronger educationally and my curiosity has increased." Many participants left with the inspiration to incorporate similar programs in their schools and communities.
The project helped participants by improving their speaking, reading, writing and leadership skills, and provided participants with various test taking strategies. This program is important because for many years, Liberian students have been failing the WAEC English Exam which makes them fearful of taking classes for the WAEC. With this fact in focus, the program reduced fear of WAEC in its students and provided them with the necessary skills they will need to succeed in the exam. Students also lacked the inspiration to become leaders in their communities so the program, through its leadership class, helped build participants’ confidence to become changemakers wherever they go.
Madam Cecelia Dennis-Sieh, Principal and Founder of the People Empowerment Program Technical Education Center (PEP-TEC), stated at the closing session of the program: "I am greatly impressed to see youth involved in helping to improve the Liberian Education section by building the capacities of other youth." She also admitted that she has seen a great change in her students and participants conversation as they all talked about creating programs that would help transform their fellow youth.
The 50 participants were sad to leave because they wanted to continue learning new things. Victor, a participant said: "If this was a school, I would rather sell all I have to attend because what I am learning now is so inspiring and motivational."
In response to a post-program survey, 100% of participants said that they would love to continue attending this program due to its positive impact. They all said that they have what it takes to give back to their communities; therefore, they are going to create programs that would help other youth. 90-98% participants demonstrated improvement in the reading, public speaking, and test taking skills.
As the project continues to grow, WEETAS aims at benefiting many more schools, students, and teachers in Liberia in the coming years. WEETAS extends its heartfelt gratitude to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the YES program, iEARN-Liberia, Madam Cecelia Dennis-Seih, TEAM 2019 WEETAS (Emmanuel Godfrey - founder, Garmai Gayflor, Jel D. Luma, Koiwu Gboluma and Caroyln Macking) and all its supporters and partners for all their generous support.
"At WEETAS, We Are Working Together for a Better Education”