Two members of the Kufuor Scholars Program (KSP), Esther Spio and Aaron Atimpe, are currently in China for the 2018 BXAI Summer Program. The program is an annual gathering of students from around the world to deliberate on important topics while learning skills to take on global challenges. The out-of-classroom setting coupled with a rich base of influential global leaders and resource persons provide the participants experiential learning opportunities. The KSP Scholars share their experiences after their first week in China;
Our journey from Accra through Addis Ababa to Beijing was without turbulence. Although there was a 2-hours delay at our transit in Addis Ababa, we barely noticed it because we were very excited and anticipating our first experience in Asia.
We had a very warm reception at the Beijing airport, as a student advisor for the Bai Xian Summer Program was in waiting to receive us into a pre-arranged pick-up vehicle by Mary Anne. We later had a very scenic drive through the beautiful streets of Beijing to the prestigious Peking University where we were received joyfully by BXAI staff. We were also served with a delicious variety of Chinese meals, and later assisted to check into our rooms to finally have a rest from the long flight.
So far, our stay here has been very pleasant because of the receptiveness of our Asian colleagues.
The program this year is on the theme “Tradition and Innovation: Sustainable Development of Cities.” The first panel discussion we had on the topic ‘Envisioning East Asia’s Future in View of the Past,’ was by all standards full of significant lessons for Ghana and Africa. Though most examples and references were taken from East Asia, as young leaders, we were very keen on finding a common ground to fit the Ghana and African story.
A professor on the panel quoted a profound anonymous statement which resonated with us. He quoted; ‘a nation that keeps one eye on the past is wise; but a nation that keeps both eyes on the past is blind.’ We believe therefore that as leaders, we must not lose complete sight of our past no matter how despicable it is. We ought to look into the future armed with lessons from both the successes and failures of the past in order to achieve positive results.
Moving on, we went on a three day expedition trip at Shimenshan. There, we had a lot of outdoor activities including the Great Wall Hike, Via Ferrata iron rope course, lawn games, and the Bilingual Improv & Art Challenge. Those few days taught us more about team building, resilience and courage than any school curricular would ever have. The strong sense of communality that was cultivated quickly amongst the team of barely a week old was worthy of note. This was largely attainable due to the professionalism of the Hutong Education Team that led us for the excursion.
Indeed, the time we spent on mountain climbing, sporting, skill building and finally conquering the Great Wall have gelled us together in such strong networks and friendships that will yield meaningful impacts during and after this program.
As though the experiences of the Great Wall were not enough, the first workshop on our return to Beijing on ‘Design Thinking’ revealed yet another unparalleled insight into creative and smart thinking as leaders. We learnt about the essence of feedback, and critical thinking in devising solutions to problems.
Furthermore, the first lecture of our Stream, ‘Urban-Rural Integration; Progress, Challenges and Opportunities’ commenced right after the session on Design Thinking. In that class as well, we were exposed to some valuable strategies of bridging the rural-urban development gaps without disrupting the quality of life and sustainable livelihoods.
In conclusion, as each session of the Bai Xian summer program keeps exceeding our expectations overwhelmingly, we are fast assimilating the lessons, adapting to the new experiences, and envisioning a more exciting and educative stay for the rest of the camp. We definitely will return with more than enough lessons to share with our fellow scholars, and Ghana at large, when given the platform.