Africalogist and Education Consultant, Mrs. Melodye Micëre Van Putten, conducted the first, community-driven, Ashay Summer Institute for Teens last weekend, July 20th and 21st at Whitney Institute.
The Ashay weekend featured a parent and teen evening on Friday and teens only all day Saturday. According to the evaluation comment of one of the teenagers, the Ashay Summer Institute for Teens was an “…empowering journey full of new people, new information, and a wonderful new experience.”
A spokesperson said, “Program participants were greeted with African drumming and the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Whitney Institute’s library. Surrounded by books, the intention of the weekend was obvious – this was to be a journey in self-knowledge and self-empowerment, highlighting the global African experience of history and culture.
“Among the lessons taught on Friday evening were the African Foundation Timeline, African Philosophy and Cosmology, Global African and African American Inventions.
“On Saturday, teens focused on their goals – academic and career-wise – through a variety of exercises, mapping out plans and creating affirmations for their journey to achievement in school, university and beyond. They received the stated expectation of the Ashay Objectives: “The world is waiting for you to contribute your gifts and talents.”
“Mrs. Van Putten noted that the teenagers who attended the Ashay Summer Institute for Teens were respectful, bright, thoughtful, intellectually open, reflective, and were a delight to be with. Demonstrating their hunger to learn, in the final minutes of the Institute, during Q&A, one teen wanted all of the answers to the “Who Am I?” exercise started on Friday.
“Everyone agreed, staying another twenty minutes to finish! When’s the last time you heard of teenagers wanting to stay “in class” to finish an academic exercise!? Their evaluation comments also indicated their desire to continue learning, seeking and exploring: “It had me thinking about myself and what I see in me. I loved everything. We should get back together soon; this exact group.”
The spokesperson continued, saying, “A small cadre’ of visionary people made the Institute possible, gathering energy and resources. They include the initiator of the project, Ms. Lisa Trott. Rasheema Swan, Principal of Whitney Institute, John Scotland, Lynne Winfield, CURB, Anthony Ball, Carol Ann Dunkley, Dr. Stephanie Guttham of the Family Center and Carvel Van Putten; all made valuable contributions, generously contributing their time, money, resources and willingness to serve.
“It would be remiss if Sherri J of the Sherri Simmons radio talk show was not mentioned; Mrs. Van Putten’s interview on her show was the catalyst for the community-driven action that made the Ashay Summer Institute for Teens a reality.
“The need and desire was beautifully communicated by one of the teens: “I liked the fact that I learned more than I thought I would before I came; I will be leaving here with more knowledge. Thank you for having me… I would like to come again. You have great knowledge!”
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