The Leadership Development Series (LDS) is my favourite activity in the Cedar Mentorship program. I particularly love it for two reasons:
- Mentors and mentees get to learn useful concepts for improving ourselves in an informal and highly collaborative setting. I particularly love this because knowledge sticks when we learn in such a relaxed manner. I can barely remember most things I learnt in school because I learnt sitting on hard benches, in hot classrooms, copying long notes as the lecturer dictated, but, I can vividly remember all our leadership development lessons. Sitting on green grass under the tree shades, sharing experiences with friends, sipping lemonade, laughing at each other. All these memories make learning stick. For instance, our coordinator, Mr Shola Ola, in one of our prior LDS sessions carried out an exercise called “who’s at your table”. We were required to highlight our role models and why we looked up to them. The exercise stuck so much that I subconsciously try to live out the qualities I emulate in my role models.
- The LDS curriculum was originally designed with the mentees in mind but I have benefited a lot from it. For most of us who experience the Nigerian public education system, our education was restricted to academic subjects like Mathematics, Accounting etc. So, the LDS serves as a platform for learning key concepts that make us better individuals, citizens and leaders. For instance, the last LDS held on the first of July 2017 is my best so far because we got to learn and define our values as individuals, as leaders and as the members of a team.
That was epic because even though some of us already had our values defined, the exercise allowed us to further reflect, decide and even question our values. This exercise is particularly important because our society pays little or no emphasis to values. I hope this can be incorporated in schools and institutions especially the public institutions.
The last LDS series was so much fun, we tackled the rain before we even started the session. I actually thought some of the mentees and mentors would leave but I got to witness resilience in action, as all 14 of us, though divided in location, waited till the rain subsided and convened to achieve what we came there to achieve.
We commenced the meeting with icebreakers and carrying out the some interesting personality tests. We had commenced the main topic of the day when dark clouds resurfaced and marked the beginning of our adventure. It appeared like it would rain and we quickly formed two groups: the optimists and the pessimists. The optimists encouraged us to stay back and hoped that it wouldn’t rain while the others (the pessimists) encouraged us to move to another venue. The former briefly won till the rain started pouring heavily and we had to vacate where we were.
We again tackled the rain, left Millennium Park in a convoy of 5 cars as if we just left a wedding. Hazard lights on, zooming through traffic lights, police convoy, military pilot. We scouted for a new venue, i.e. BMT Garden, Wuse 2. Our plan was to just walk into the garden and act like we owned it but before we knew it we were accosted and told we could not continue our activity there.
It was so much fun watching Obieze (our Amerikana) negotiate with the park manager in American Nigerian English. Unfortunately the man adamantly refused to allow us stay at the park to finish our activity saying we had to pay N70,000. It was all good because we were having so much fun with everything.
We then decided to try another park and went to City Park where we trekked a good distance to try to find a place where we could put our mats and sit.
We were tired, cold and hungry but we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. We managed to convince one of the mangers of the restaurant to allow us use their restaurant space to sit down, talk, and eat our food while we bought some drinks from their restaurant. Very fortunately, she agreed.
We sat down to eat some delicious fried and jollof rice (naija jollof!) from Chicken Republic. We ate the best popcorn in Nigeria (World of Popcorn & treats), had drinks and both mentors and mentees continued the discussion on values. We discussed values across cultures, limiting values, we talked about faith, respect and diplomacy, fairness and equality.
We networked, stayed late into the night. In fact, no one wanted to leave, not the mentors, not the mentees. I had to plead with people to go home. I am really glad to be a part of this noble organization that grooms wholesome teenagers. Oh! and adults as well. I look forward to our next activity in honour of Late Nelson Mandela on the 14th of July 2017.
By Chidinma Obi (fan)