Dickey’s African Leadership Trainers Build Ties During the Break

Dartmouth News

January 4, 2018

By Bill Platt

Dinner in Ghana shows growing student, faculty, and alumni network on the continent.

YALI group photo
Brian Kunz, front row, third from left, and Lindsay Putnam, fourth from left, of the Dartmouth Outdoor Programs office, Ashley Manning ’17, sixth from left, Robert Halvorsen, Thayer ’17, eighth from left, Dickey center program officer Amy Newcomb, second row, first on left, and Inspire founder Cynthia Mene Ndubuisi YALI ’15, second row, second from left, at a workshop in Nigeria. (Photo courtesy of Amy Newcomb)

When Thomas Candon and Amy Newcomb, from the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, began planning a winter-break swing through West Africa to connect with alumni of the Dartmouth Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and the students and alumni who are working with these African entrepreneurs, they happened upon a magazine profile of Selassie Atadika ’98 that showcased her Accra restaurant, Midunu.

 “We wanted to find an interesting way to bring some of our alumni together for a special event and as we read about Selassie’s journey and the creation of her restaurant, we just knew we had found the right place to gather,” says Newcomb.

Atadika was enthusiastic about hosting the Dartmouth gathering, which brought together faculty, staff, students, and friends who jumped at the chance to get together with other Dartmouth friends and sample the restaurant’s West African cuisine. ...

... Candon and Newcomb also attended an “Apps Challenge” launch event at the Ghanaian headquarters for MTN, a South Africa-based telecommunications company. Tawia is one of four judges for the challenge. At the event, they ran into Ayorkor Korsah ’01 Thayer ’03, who was there to deliver the keynote address.

Korsah is now head of the computer science department at Ashesi University in Ghana. While at Dartmouth she received her BA in computer science, modified with engineering, studying under professors David Kotz and Tom Cormen. At Thayer School of Engineering, she was active in the Women in Science Project, recently delivering the keynote lecture at the Wetterhahn Symposium, established at Dartmouth in 1992 and named for the late Karen Wetterhahn, a professor of chemistry and co-founder of the Women In Science Project. ...

Training the Trainers

Train the Trainers photo
Participants in a “train-the-trainers” workshop for young African entrepreneurs join in a team-building exercise led by Brian Kunz and Lindsay Putnam of Dartmouth Outdoor Programs with support from Ashley Manning ’17 and Robert Halvorsen, Thayer ’17. (Photo courtesy of Amy Newcomb)

Meanwhile, Newcomb traveled to Nigeria, where she met up with Brian Kunz and Lindsay Putnam from the Dartmouth Outdoor Programs office, Ashley Manning ’17, and Robert Halvorsen Thayer ’17, to help run a “Train the Trainers” workshop for the social enterprise Inspire Africa; the workshop is a joint project with the U.S. Consulate in Lagos and 2015 Dartmouth YALI fellow Cynthia Mene Ndubuisi, a co-founder of Inspire Africa.

Mene Ndubuisi modeled the Inspire Africa entrepreneurship program on the Dartmouth YALI curriculum, incorporating Thayer’s Human-Centered Design program and Dartmouth Outdoor Programs’ team building exercises. Inspire holds sessions several times a year to train young leaders in that curriculum who then fan out to lead training sessions in their home countries.

“The ideas and curriculum developed at Dartmouth are truly spreading to the next generation of leaders across Africa,” Newcomb says.

In the two-week workshop in rural Nigeria during the winter interim, Kunz and Putnam ran team-building sessions based on the program they had developed for YALI, and Newcomb, Manning, and Halvorsen led the sessions on human centered design and engineering problem solving. Through this capacity building project, Inspire Africa trainers aim to teach these skills to over 3,000 young entrepreneurs across Nigeria, Ghana, and Tanzania in the coming year.

Halvorsen, who assisted Associate Professor of Engineering Peter Robbie with the human-centered design curriculum for the 2016 YALI fellows at Dartmouth, says he was humbled by the opportunity to teach the curriculum to young professionals in Africa.

“All the people I met at Dartmouth through YALI are talented and inspiring,” Halvorsen says. “If we can do this training in Nigeria right, then these fellows can take it and run with it. It’s incredible to imagine how far the program we developed at Dartmouth can go.”

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