2011 Summer Fellow Lexy Adams recently shared her thoughts about ELI Africa with us. Read her inspirational words below!
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Just a couple days ago, Vedant and I finally managed to connect over skype – quite a feat when both of us have shaky internet signals, in Mauritius and Ethiopia. Our conversations are few and far between, but they always leave me so inspired and enthusiastic about eli Africa – so much has been accomplished in this last year! Vedant and the Mauritian team has clearly been working hard, and as he always says, hard work pays off.
Since my time as a Fellow last summer, eli Africa has evolved and grown remarkably. The Education has been decentralized from our beloved Center in Mon Gout to several after school programs across the island – a great way to reach more children, make a greater impact, and become more sustainable. Our volunteer program has expanded exponentially, and classes are now taught year round. The Yale Fellows now make only a small fraction of the eli Africa family, a huge improvement from last year. Our greatest fear was that we were going to leave, and the students would be left only with Vedant, who is unquestionably an amazing human being but can only be so many places at once. Little did we know how much was in store for our organization in the next year.
We have a stellar group of Fellows in Mauritius this summer, and reading their blogs are the highlight of my weekends. As much as I have been enjoying my time in Ethiopia, I miss Mauritius and my students, and I wish that I was part of all the Fellows’ adventures! Their teamwork and passion for the kids make me really excited for the future of the organization, and the upcoming year’s team back at Yale. Lindsay, with her high standards and drive, who is helping these students write articles better than most teenagers I’ve ever met, in their second language no less, and who is bringing our media and networking to a whole other level. Lincoln, with his huge heart and love for the kids, and so much courage to stand up to a violent grandmother – I can’t wait to read the poetry from his class. Lauren, so fearless, and I give her endless kudos for donating her summer after college to teaching in a foreign country – I also envy her recent egg drop contest, it brings back so many memories of science class. Bryan, who had such a light and energy from the moment I met him, and I can just picture him with my shyest students from last summer, screaming and spitting across the yard as their confidence skyrockets. Brittany, calm and cool, always smiling, coaxing beautiful masterpieces out of the kids. And last but not least, our scholar Stephanie, who I haven’t had the privilege to meet but sounds so sweet, and like she is making such a difference with her swimming lessons. What an amazing team, who works so well together, touches so many kids’ lives, and redefines the meaning of the eli Africa family!
Vedant paints a beautiful image of our organization – eli Africa as a dragonfly. Did you know that the dragonfly is the only insect that can flap all of its wings independently? It can change directions at a moment’s notice, just as our organization adapts and responds to the local needs as they appear. The four wings of our dragonfly consist of our Fellows, our Volunteer Corps, our Scholars, and our Boards. Each wing plays a role and contributes uniquely to the progress of our organization, each wing propels us forward and helps us dodge and overcome obstacles. And of course, the backbone of our dragonfly are the kids – what holds us all together, the heart and soul of eli Africa.
The vision of eli Africa is finally materializing. Children all over the island are receiving access to free, fun experiential learning, fostering their creativity and confidence, and inspiring them to pursue their passions through education. The organization has grown stronger, more sustainable, and continues to broaden its reach – and there is no sign of stopping. At eli Africa, we dream big – Ethiopia and South Africa will be next. And at eli Africa, anything is possible.