I have something to say, Kigali, Rwanda, ALU

What is I Have Something to Say?

I Have Something to Say is an event that seeks to provide a space and opportunity for teachers and staff to overcome their fear of public speaking, and share their experiences regarding how they overcame fear in their life. To start off the event, 8-10 speakers minimum are needed. At the end of the event, an open mic session takes place, wherein people from the audience have the opportunity to spontaneously come up on stage if they would like to, and accomplish for themselves what the speakers have accomplished.

I Have Something to Say aims to:

  • Imbue students and staff with more hope and belief in themselves to overcome their fears.
  • Create a sense of community. No longer will people walk past each other as students and staff, but rather, as humans with a story that others can relate to, and possibly even sympathise and empathise with.
  • Share the stories, messages, inner strength and courage of individuals, which in itself has an inspiring effect that can take many forms. This, for example, can incite people to think, ‘well, if they can do it, I can do it!’.

I have something to say, Kigali, Rwanda, ALU

Spreading the word

Spreading the I Have Something to Say event to the African Leadership University (ALU), was under the banner of the newly found SOAS-ALU partnership. Dr. Sindi Gordon, of SOAS and ALU remarked:

‘this [event] marks the beginning of a partnership between ALU and SOAS … this is our first step of many exchanges, partnerships and activities across continents’.

I believe that embarking on this project, will create more intimacy in the SOAS-ALU partnership, set it in stone and open doorways to greater possibilities. Moreover, to be associated with the most innovative university in Africa today, and possibly set-up pathways to have ALU students and staff interact with SOAS students and staff, shall truly pave the path to meaningful learning opportunities, and mutual growth and betterment. I say this because ALU students and staff are truly unique and I believe that wherever they go, they will spread invaluable wisdom and knowledge.

I Have Something to Say at ALU, Kigali, Rwanda

At the I Have Something to Say event at ALU, many life-changing tales were shared, a community was revitalised and inspiration was rampant.

I have something to say, Kigali, Rwanda, ALU

One brave person spoke about how he lost his mother and his second father. Effectively, he lost his childhood from an early age. Another spoke about how his first memory was his mother wrapping him with a piece of cloth on her back to escape death during a civil war. One strong student talked of the value of his mother, as she was the reason he rescinded his decision to take his life. Another admirable student lectured and educated us all about the hardships faced by women in Rwanda.

My life was truly changed as I listened to their stories. I interviewed six of the speakers after the event, asking them how they felt after speaking and about the event in general. Some felt inspired and motivated to continue overcoming fears and speaking in public. Others noted how the event created a sense of community. Some even reported a sense of emancipation. At the end of the event students joined one another in dancing and in celebration. ALU is already a force to be reckoned with in Africa. A few more nights like this, and it might possibly become a force to be reckoned with globally.

I have something to say, Kigali, Rwanda, ALU

Where do we go from here?

Reflecting upon this event has made me appreciate a great number of things. Seeing the beautiful transformative power of the I Have Something to Say Rwanda event has made me realise that this SOAS-ALU partnership must be solidified and pursued. Imagine how the lives of both students and staff from SOAS and ALU will be enriched if more events such as this occur in the future? This partnership will be one wherein both parties learn and benefit from one another’s uniqueness and diversity. A genuine and constructive positive-sum game as it would be referred to in politics.

The signs already seem bright for the SOAS-ALU partnership. After completing the I Have Something to Say event, the number of ALU students interested in SOAS has multiplied, the director of the new Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, David Webster, has recently visited ALU, and a SOAS-ALU summer school is also set to be established.

I would like to be the first to congratulate SOAS and ALU on their new-found partnership. Long may it last, and its fruits will be the gems that will enlighten the path to the future.

Ali Alsayegh is studying MSc Middle East Politics.

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