For the past two weeks, the YALI Network has called on members to join its #YALILearns initiative as a way of giving back to the community. If you’re interested, first take an online course. You can choose among topics ranging from business and entrepreneurship to climate change to civic leadership. After passing the quiz at the end of the course and earning your certificate, the next step is to plan an event and share what you learned with others.
You can use the YALI Network online courses as a great way to generate discussion around whichever of those topics is of interest to your community,
In Ghana, Oxford Bonsu used the course “Community Organizing for Action” as the basis for an event that brought together 45 chiefs of the Ashanti region to discuss laws of land use in their region and to explore ways their lands could be used as equity for business investment.
“I was humbled,” Bonsu wrote on the YALI Network Face2Face page, “when one of the chiefs present pronounced the workshop unprecedented in the history of the traditional council.”
Facilitate instead of teach
The good news is that you are not expected to be an expert on the subject you have chosen to share. The courses are designed so that of all the information is provided by the videos, audio files or transcripts. Instead of being a teacher who has to come up with a curriculum, you are a facilitator. In other words, your job is much less formal than someone who expected to deliver a lecture or have all of the answers. Instead, you are a fellow member of the group — one who is driving the discussion and encouraging everyone to participate.
A #YALILearns event doesn’t have to feel like a classroom. Facilitation is about empowering others. A skilled facilitator will create conditions in which a group can work together effectively. They will also steer everyone back toward the end goal whenever the discussions get side-tracked.
Joyce Ikpaahindi, a YALI Network member in Nigeria, saw the need to develop in her community a stronger sense of how to engage effectively in public service to bring about change. She designed an event around the YALI Network Online Course “Strengthening Public Sector Service.”
“To set up my event,” Ikpaahindi said, “I first needed to find a suitable space to accommodate 21 people. My department at the Federal Ministry of Works was willing to provide the space and equipment needed to host the event.”
Ikpaahindi also enlisted the support of two 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows, Fatu Ogwuche and Benjamin Dankaka, who shared their experiences on the Fellowship program and also their leadership experience in the Nigerian public sector. “Real-life examples and experiences shared by the Fellows proved to be quite popular with the participants,” she said. “A good #YALILearns event should be as practical, engaging and hands-on as possible.”
Both Ikpaahindi and Bonsu created their events by combining a relevant YALI Network online course with additional discussions and presentations from community leaders. The particulars of the program are up to you, since you know your community best — as long as you bring people together, share ideas and take away a resolve to create positive change.
If you want to hold a #YALILearns event of your own, look at the #YALILearns page to learn more about how to facilitate your event and choose a topic that will most benefit your audience. A local partner such as a university or civic group can be useful in finding a venue for your event and helping you get the word out.
During your event, make sure to take pictures, and then let us know how it went at the #YALILearns feedback page so that we can share your success with the Network.