We believe that when young people are exposed to different cultural environments, they can better reflect on their own lives and communities and come up with more innovative strategies for solving problems. Camp Alkebulan cultivates self-awareness, global awareness, and leadership skills by taking youth ages 18 to 21 on a three-week trip to West Africa to reconnect with their cultural roots. Participants are youth who have demonstrated commitment and leadership in other LE programs for at least two years. It is important that youth gain a global understanding of issues facing other African communities throughout the Diaspora.
In preparation for the trip, participants study the regional history, language, and culture of the areas they will visit. Once they arrive on the continent, they have the opportunity to tour important historical and natural sites, ranging from universities, to slave dungeons, to national parks. One critical aspect of the program is participants’ interaction with young people their age. We have found that engaging with their peers while in West Africa illuminates many of the similarities and misconceptions the two groups had about each other before meeting. Lastly, our youth complete a service project to benefit the larger community. When youth return, they share the lessons they learned with the Leadership Excellence family at our biannual Testimonies from the Village.
The Camp Alkebulan experience “binds you for life,” says one past participant, providing an opportunity for community development and getting in touch with your roots.