ELI Africa engages with Mauritian students in a thoughtful manner, tailoring its projects to their needs. As a fellow, I have been designing projects for two schools, one a primary school that is preparing students for a standardized test called the CPE, and the other a vocational school for students who have already failed the CPE. Mauritian schools typically favor a highly regimented method of teaching that allows little room for student innovation and input, but ELI Africa attempts to combat this with experiential learning projects. For example, at the primary school Etoile de Mer, ELI Africa is helping the students begin a fruit and vegetable garden and write books about themselves.
So far working with ELI Africa has been a complete pleasure. As a current fellow I am directly involved with this organization and it has exceeded all of my expectations. It is well organized and has a strong and clear strategy. The mission is to promote individual and community development by leading locally-relevant, hands-on experiential learning projects cooperatively in non-profit schools and fostering a spirit of volunteerism and linking the community with underprivileged youth.
My experience with ELI Africa has been absolutely inspiring. I cannot wait to continue my involvement and see this organization grow. I am part of the inaugural summer pilot program in Mauritius, Africa. We work in four different schools around the island, where we engage the students in a variety of educational initiatives that they would otherwise not have exposure to. All educational programs are unique to the needs of the surrounding community. One particular program I am passionate about has been a sports program for girls. The objective is to empower girls through sports, as they normally do not have the option to participate. I also enjoy the interactive environmental programs we have implemented to educate students about their local community. A constructive criticism of ELI Africa has been that we are currently running off of very limited resources. The attitude and energy of all involved is enough to make a difference, but it would obviously help in the future to have more resources and supplies to help the educational programs.
My experience with Eli Africa consists of being one of six fellows participating in the organization's pilot program in Mauritius in June and July of 2010. We will spend two months total in Mauritius, devising, organizing, and conducting educational projects for students at four schools: Etoile de Mer, a school for children between 10-15; Ecole Fatima, for students between 16 and 20 who have failed a Mauritian standardized test called the CPE; and two special needs schools--Amour Sans Frontieres and Anou Grandi. In most meaningful aspects, the program is working out excellently. As an organization, Eli Africa balances idealistic vision and practicality outstandingly well. Its board is well-fitted to its task. To name a couple representative examples, Charles Hill's pedigree as an adviser to some of the last four decades' most important political figures attests to his intelligence and judgment, and Linda Cole-Taylor is a professor of teacher preparation at Yale University (with which most of the organization's members are affiliated) with experience teaching all over the world. Vedant Seeam, the organization's president, has an life story that has inspired him to take on this project and equipped him to carry it out effectively. He is native Mauritian who pulled himself out of a difficult household to become vice chairman of finance in the northern district council and national badminton champion, all before enrolling as an undergraduate at Yale and walking onto its football team. His strong and charming personality, coupled with a deeply empathetic nature, pushes the organization forward. Idealogically, Eli Africa is devoted to experiential learning, which is lacking in Mauritius. This means learning through projects--through creativity and accomplishment--as opposed to the rote drilling that currently dominates the island's education system. The other fellows and I are setting up an English language blog for the students at Ecole Fatima, orchestrating the beginnings of a fruit and vegetable garden at Etoile de Mer, helping the kids at Etoile de Mer write books about themselves in English, and running theater programs at both Fatima and Etoile de Mer. The team is made up of motivated Yale students with experience in various fields, and, between teaching at the schools and the planning process, we work more than full time to get results out of this pilot program. One of Eli Africa's greatest virtues is that we are given creative freedom in putting together our teaching programs. We choose what we want to teach and how, and this makes us feel very attached to our projects. The students have been enthusiastically embraced this new form of education. Largely thanks to their generosity of spirit, we have an affectionate relationship, and they are receptive to our teaching. The older students at Ecole Fatima especially have started to open up to us about their feelings and hopes, and the unfolding of mutual understanding has been an enriching experience for both sides. Thanks to the students' openness and Vedant's guidance, we have learned even more than we have taught. I am having an excellent experience with Eli Africa. It is an innovative and effective organization.
ELI Africa is an innovative program which will do great things to address education deficiencies in Africa. They're passion and dedication to their cause has really paid off and I believe their first summer program will have all the success in the world. I would recommend this group to anyone who is looking for their donation to directly impact the life of an African child. Additionally this is a great opportunity for any individual looking to participate as a fellow. Way to go guys!
ELI Africa is an outstanding organization that will definitely have a major impact in the communities that it works with. Although it is still young, the board members are extremely passionate about the project and believe that it will produce a lot of good for children in Africa.