Teach Africa Educates Students in Royce

In a forum on Saturday, speakers addressed several topics to break stereotypes of life in Africa, The Daily Bruin reports.

The earth is becoming a neighborhood.

By Christopher Mastrangelo for The Daily Bruin

MORE THAN 1,000 local junior high and high school students gathered in Royce Hall on Saturday to participate in the Teach Africa Youth Forum.

The event was the culmination of the Teach Africa program, a continuing effort that has been implemented by superintendents, principals and teachers into the Los Angeles Unified School District curriculum.

The program aims to give students a taste of the culture, history, education and life in Africa by learning from those with firsthand knowledge.

Luddy Hayden, president of Luddy Hayden and Associates and the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa board member, addressed the students. He explained how the world has changed with the advent of globalism and global markets and how Africa fits into this equation.

"You are part of the change that is taking place in the world. ... We are becoming a global village; the earth is becoming a neighborhood," he said.

Hayden and other speakers at the event hoped to transform public education by giving teachers the knowledge necessary to better educate students on subjects concerning Africa.

The forum was designed to break down commonly held stereotypes by fostering a better mutual understanding of life in Africa for students and teachers.

The UCLA African Studies Center, the United States Agency for International Development, the Discovery Channel, the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa jointly organized the event.

The forum included various guest speakers such as Ambassador of the Republic of Benin Segbe Cyrille Oguin; the executive producer of the Discovery Channel's Global Education Partnership, Aric Noboa; and actor and activist Isaiah Washington.

The day was divided into three parts beginning with speakers from the different organizations in Royce Hall, a break for lunch and finally a variety of breakout sessions where topics such as African history or film and media were taught to students and teachers.

The documentary "Africa Today" was also shown. The film chronicled the experience of teachers and students who had traveled to Africa in order to learn more about the culture, aimed to break down stereotypes and developed the knowledge to better educate students on Africa here in the United States.

Later, Washington addressed the students and teachers and spoke about his life experiences as an Aerospace Engineer in the Air Force and how he decided to become involved as an activist for the nation of his ancestry, Sierra Leone.

Andrew Apter, the director of the UCLA African Studies Center and professor of history and anthropology, described the importance of teaching current affairs with Africa and other problems he believes exist with aid provided to the country.

Apter continued by describing the problems confronting Africa.

He explained that the youth in Africa are crucial to finding solutions for present problems.

He also added that reform is needed in order to maximize the effectiveness of aid given.

A variety of breakout sessions were offered on topics including African history, arts and culture, film, environment and current affairs. They were taught by guest speakers and UCLA graduate students.

Michelle Oberman, a UCLA Masters student in African Studies, taught a breakout session on East Africa's connections across the Indian Ocean and she opened with some trivia questions about Africa.

Many of the students said they were surprised to know that they were familiar with a few Swahili words such as the word "safari," which had been adopted into the English language.

Published: Monday, June 01, 2009