By Korvah M. Fromayan (YES 2015-2016, Liberia, placed with CIEE in West Townshend, VT)
In 2014, I was selected for the YES program and traveled to the United States in 2015 as a proud YES student. My time West Townshend, VT with the Dolan family, attending Leland and Gray Union Middle and High School, is a huge part of my story of becoming a person who is now impacting the quality of education in Liberia and the lives of Liberia’s youth. The YES program has given me a clear understanding of diversity, community engagement, and how one can transform a dream into reality.
Upon returning home, my fellow alumni and I began looking for ways to improve education in Liberia. We have implemented numerous iterations of the Workshop for Effective English Teaching and Speaking (WEETAS) program. You can read more about the 2019 WEETAS and 2020 WEETAS projects, for which our team received YES Alumni Grant funding.
In 2020, I decided to apply for a 2021 YES Alumni Grant to take WEETAS’s work in a new direction and address the issue of inadequate use of technology in the classroom. After interviewing and surveying many high school teachers, we concluded that many Liberian students fail the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) English Exam – and are unable to write research papers – due to the lack of training and education needed for teachers to effectively use technology to facilitate and enhance learning.
Our ultimate goal for this project was to inspire teachers to become creative and innovative, so that they may invigorate and inspire students with their lessons. Teachers are the gate keepers of knowledge and need to be able to deliver the right information, in the right way, to students. The Liberian classroom can be a monotonous, unengaging, and very boring environment. I believe that by incorporating technology in the classroom, we can build up a new breed of talented and modern teachers, leaders, and entrepreneurs, who will reimagine education in Liberia.
The project, titled Incorporating Technology in the Classroom (ITC), was launched in 2021 with YES Alumni Grant funding. Our project team held a six-day workshop for 50 primary and secondary school teachers in Paynesville City, Montserrado County. Participants were taught ways to integrate technology in the classroom, including how to run an engaging virtual class, use PowerPoint, use online resources for a textbook-free classroom, carrying out online research for writing academic papers, relationship building with parents using email, and effective use of educational apps for teachers.
In a post-workshop survey, one teacher shared, “I feel equipped with the technological knowledge I gained from this training and am ready to incorporate technology in my classroom to enhance my students’ learning experiences.”
To ensure the success of the project, we worked closely with school administrators, the District Education Officer, and the County Education Officer. After implementing many projects as an alumnus, my ability to work with many different stakeholders and my sense of connectedness with my community has significantly increased. With each project I do, I become more passionate about community service and impacting students and teachers in my country and the world at large. As a team of young educators, my fellow alumni and I have also learned that creativity and teamwork is one of the major factors to solving community problems. My team has worked tirelessly in our efforts to ensure that students and teachers reach their full potential in an improved learning environment.
Many thanks to the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, my placement organization Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) Liberia, YES Alumni Corps-Liberia, Global Transformer-Liberia, and the ITC Team for the support and dedication to this project. A big thanks to the chief founder of BEFISSCO, Melvin Saye Veamie, and to all our hardworking volunteers: Abel Mendee, Samukai Duaplay, Johana Paye, Koiwu Gboluma, John Larmin, Otis Zah, Garmai Gayfor, and Jerry Wheayen. And a big shout out to the John B. Wahpoe from Inland Academy.
Last, but not least, a huge thanks to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for sponsoring the YES program and helping meet the needs of local communities within YES countries through the YES Alumni Grants program.