By Korvah M. Fromayan (YES 2015-2016, Liberia, placed with CIEE in West Townshed, VT)
My participation in the YES program is a major factor of who I am today. Through the program, I realized that the experience of traveling outside your home country is key to learning and change. YES has given me a clear understanding of diversity, cultural differences, community engagement, and how one can transform a dream into reality.
Upon returning to my home country of Liberia, I wanted to contribute to and make an impact on my community by addressing some of the problems I saw in the high school education system. By surveying and interacting with many high school students and recent graduates, I concluded that many Liberian students fail the West African Examination Council (WAEC) English Exam due to their inability to effectively read, write, and comprehend passages of text.
As a young Liberian, this problem affects me a lot. My peers graduate from high school yet cannot enroll in universities and colleges because of their low WAEC English Exam scores. These students are the future leaders of our country. With the aim of helping students get better scores on this exam and building a talented pool of future writers, leaders, public speakers, entrepreneurs, and English teachers, I have given my time, effort, and skills to benefit disadvantaged high school students through the Workshop for Effective English Teaching and Speaking (WEETAS).
The WEETAS project that our team ran in 2020, funded by a YES Alumni Grant, was the fifth edition of WEETAS. Implemented in Tubmanburg City, Bomi County, it was a six-day English tutoring workshop for 50 high school students. We worked with the Bomi County Students’ Union, the District Education Officer, the County Education Officer, and the administrations of the participating schools for a smooth implementation of the project.
During the workshop, students were taught creative and academic writing, effective reading, public speaking, test taking and preparation strategies, leadership skills, and entrepreneurship. To keep the students engaged, we incorporated fun, creative activities, like making caps using poster sheets, chair games, and group dances to keep everyone’s energy up.
WEETAS 2020 was very successful despite the challenges of COVID-19. Pre- and post-event surveys revealed that students felt they had greatly benefitted from the program. “I am ready and equipped to serve as a leader and speaker both in my class and my community if given the chance,” said a participant named Massa. Another participant, Prince, shared, “I used to be afraid to stand before a crowd and speak, but, from this workshop, I can now address a crowd of any number with the skills of public speaking I learned.”
Over the last few years of implementing grant projects, my abilities, potential, and sense of connectedness with my community has significantly increased. I have become more passionate about community service and impacting the youth of my country and the world at large. As a team of young educators, we have also learned that creativity and teamwork are critical to solving problems and meeting the needs of the community. My team has worked tirelessly to ensure that students reach their full potential and to improve the learning environment of disadvantaged students.
Many thanks to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, for sponsoring the YES program and the YES Alumni Grant through which this project was funded. Thanks for ensuring that the needs of the communities in YES partner countries are met through the work of alumni.
Many thanks to my placement organization CIEE, iEARN-Liberia, YES Alumni Corps-Liberia, the District Education Officer of Senjeh District, and the WEETAS team for the smooth implementation of this project.