Ashinaga France’s Virtual Winter Tsudoi
In December of 2021, Ashinaga France held their third virtual tsudoi, students gathering, for all of the Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI)Scholars studying in France, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic gathered.
The event was held online due to health precautions in light of the current pandemic. The Winter Tsudoi was an opportunity to bring all Scholars together this year and realign their goals with the AAI mission. Whereas in other tsudoi programs, we focus on developing particular academic, personal, or professional skills, the Winter Tsudoi touches upon them through a broader self-evaluation of their progress, plans, and goals, which should all lead to their return to the African continent. In such a dynamic and fast-moving world, Scholars’ ability to reassess and adjust their trajectories is essential to their success as AAI Scholars and future young leaders in Africa.
We invited several guest speakers who offered invaluable advice to the Scholars. Madeleine Oka-Balima, Head of the Gender Equality Unit at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) shared her experience on her “Return to Africa” where she navigated the professional world in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Scholars also exchanged with a panel of four guest speakers representing varying perspectives on “Race, Black, and African Identities”: amongst others, Kamina Diallo, Program Specialist in gender mainstreaming at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie; Julie Vainqueur, communication manager at THEMA (Canal+ Group); and Marcellous L. Jones, television house, magazine editor, lobbyist and fashion week organizer. The Scholars were able to get first-hand accounts of what to expect when they leave their studies and transition to their professional careers. The participation of our guest speakers is key to AAI Scholars’ planning; just as we hope students lead the way for others, we are grateful to those who volunteer to be mentors and guides for our students.
The primary purpose of the tsudoi is to introduce and exchange tools, methods, and perspectives to Scholars, for them to re-elaborate and apply to their contexts. Ashinaga’s tsudoi have been increasingly catered to the specific needs of AAI Scholars, with a pre-assessment of the curriculum done both by students and staff and a critical evaluation of the session’s clarity and relevance to the Scholars’ lives after the workshops. We are proud that tsudoi are ever-evolving, thanks to the detailed observations and feedback provided by both our team members and the Scholars.