Last week Peace Corps volunteers from all over Ghana brought two senior high school students to Kumasi for the STARS conference. STARS, which stands for students taking action reaching for success, is a weeklong leadership conference run by Peace Corps volunteers for 60 second-year senior high school students in Ghana. During STARS, students learn about what it takes to be a leader, health (HIV/AIDS and malaria), career options, community volunteering, and more!
Many of the Peace Corps volunteers who brough students work at a senior high school, so their primary job is teaching science, math, art, et cetera at a senior high school. Many of these volunteers find it easy to choose their best students to bring to STARS. However I don’t work at senior high school, so my job choosing students was a little more difficult. Fortunately, there is a senior high school in my community (Abutia Secondary Technical School), so I approached the headmaster about the possilbity of bringing two students to the conference. He was on board with the idea as long as I did all of the legwork. Since I don’t know many of the students at the school, I decided to select the students using an essay contest. One boy and one girl who wrote the two best essays would be chosen to attend STARS. The essay prompt I came up with was “If you had the opportunity to sit down with the chief of your community, what 5 recommendations to develop your community would you give him?” In the end the selection turned out to be easy because I only two students (one boy and one girl) turned in essays.
STARS was held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, one of the best universities in Ghana. Perhaps I’ve been in Ghana for too long, but I was really impressed withKNUST. The campus was relatively nice and most of the students and staff were friendly. Although the campus was quiet because school wasn’t in session.
At STARS, the 60 high school students were randomly divided into 6 groups with 10 students in each group. During the week a served as a group leader for one group, but I wasn’t totally in over my head because I had the help of a mentor who is a current KNUST student and a junior group leader who was a STARS student the previous year. The mentor helping my group is an art teaching assistant at KNUST. He is a really talented artist — last year he got accepted into the New York Accademy of Art, but he couldn’t go because of the high cost. As a group leader my job was to stay around my students from 7 am in the morning until they went to bed at 9pm. Needless to say I was exhausted by the end of the conference.