CAMLEI - Engagement Youth in the process of community Development
It is always a wonderful moment to see youths taking action in community service. On Saturday April 30th, 2022 at Hotel Des Deputes Yaounde, I had the opportunity to represent Open Dreams at the CAMLEI Volunteer Graduation ceremony. CAMLEI is an acronym for Cameroon Leaders Empowerment Initiative, whose Executive Director is Levis Suh, an Open Dreams Mentor who is also the college admission counselor at MADA International College. Levis has been passionately involved in community service both in the classroom as a Physics teacher and for other initiatives, and the opportunities he has harnessed from volunteering are strong pushing factors to be part of the founding team of CamLEI.
When I arrived at the venue, there were many graduates seated already, and I was the first of the 4 guest presenters. Despite being the youngest, the courage came in when I realized the theme of volunteering is a very familiar topic in my own life journey and as well at Open Dreams. Some minutes to the start of the ceremony, I humbly walked my way to the high table where I met and networked with Virginia Nicolai, who is a Professor at Colorado Mountain College. The event began with a rundown of the CamLEI initiative and the work they have done with their volunteers. It was wonderful seeing how far they have made an impact in the community extending to the East Region of the country.
The other phases of the event were the presentations from the guest presenters, who gave very useful content. The first presenter, Ndashi Nchimenyi, started with a video showing servant leadership. Throughout his presentation, I picked out some key takeaways: Leadership by demonstration–where a leader steps forward to demonstrate his vision and others are moved to follow. You can pull the crowd required to realize your vision, which you couldn’t do alone, by taking the lead. Always sum up your volunteer experiences to use it for applications that ask for years of work experience.
The next presenter was Prof. Virginia Nicolai, who applauded the graduating volunteers and gave solid teaching on essay writing for applications. This is important because as these volunteers graduate, they would need to apply for opportunities ranging from college admissions, scholarships, jobs, or internships, grants etc and they will need to write essays about what they have achieved at some points.
As the day drew nearer to the end, Levis Suh, the Executive Director of CamLEI, offered some words of encouragement and congratulations to the volunteers. Then he dived into his own journey and ended with a few successes he was able to attain. Thereafter, I had the opportunity to offer some inspiring words for 5 minutes, meaning I had to squeeze many years of passionately serving in the community into this small time. I told my story of starting an ex-student association in the South West Region to help students caught up in the Anglophone crisis. I spoke about Open Dreams and the upcoming summer academy, and I went forth to state how my consistent drive attracted an internship scholarship worth $2000 and how after many volunteering initiatives, I am finally on a big green flight (adapted from Nforngwah Desmond’s purple flight). And this is thanks very much to Open Dreams. This hugely motivated many students in the hall to pursue community service initiatives in addition to their academics.
Again, I was privileged to be on the high table line during dinner with other guest presenters. I used the time to also network with other speakers, including Prof. Virginia Nicolai, who was so excited to hear about my voyage to her country in the fall and the great impact Open Dreams has been creating. We are so proud of her resourcefulness this far and looking forward to more mentorship engagements, especially during the summer academy.
- Teh Triumph, Open Dreams Scholar