EXPERIENCES AS A VOLUNTEER AND AMBASSADOR
My name is Abdul Rafiq Lartey. I am 17 years old. I am an exchange student under the Kennedy Lugar Youth and Exchange Studies and American Cultural Exchange Service (ACES). I have participated in many volunteering services throughout my stay in the United States, however, one volunteering organization caught my attention and has so far won exceptional love and favour in my heart. I heard about Books4Buddies through my friend, Birama Ndiaye from Senegal, who became an ambassador before me. My interest in the organization led me to meet the co-founder Mrs. Laneta Goings. I told her about my interest in the organization and my intention to hopefully become an ambassador, just as my friend from Senegal was. I was accepted that same day and immediately started serving with Books4Buddies as an AMBASSADOR. It has been 10 months since I became an exchange student and Books4Buddies played a major role in my growth and leadership qualities today. I have enjoyed every moment of being part of this organization not just because of my interest in it, but also because of the level of service it offers to humanity. It has definitely been a blessing to be part of this organization.
Martin Luther King Drum Major for Freedom Scholarship Breakfast
I had the opportunity to attend the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Martin Luther King Drum Major for Freedom Scholarship Breakfast in Perrysburg, Ohio earlier this year in January (2017). Actually, that was the first day I officially met Mrs. Laneta Goings. At the breakfast, I got to hear the Black National Anthem, “Lift every voice and sing,” being sung in my case for the first time. It was a wonderful experience for me because I got to learn more about the several struggles the African Americans have gone through. It had a positive impact on me because there were a lot of motivational speeches by various men and women. I met very inspirational people like Ms. Rhonda Sewell who spoke personally to me and inspired me to achieve as much as I could. In addition, I got the opportunity to read the profiles of some determined students who were awarded scholarships because of their determination, talent and hard work. As of now, when I reflect back on the experience at the breakfast, I feel very fortunate because I have more experience and knowledge now and I understand more, its importance.
Speaking to Raymer Elementary School Pupils on The Importance of Education
On January 27, 2017, I had the opportunity to speak to a few classes at Raymer Elementary School about the importance of education and encourage the students to take their studies very seriously. I spoke alongside Birama Ndiaye from Senegal and Cheran Lyle, who attends Bowsher in Toledo, OH. I personally have had a deep understanding with education based on my experiences as a Ghanaian student. I am very much aware of the importance of education and its benefits, because I wouldn’t be here in America without education in the first place. I was very elated at the offer to speak to these young leaders and to inspire them to push hard and achieve their goals in life. I was nervous at first to speak to the students but I had to overcome the nervousness due to the realization of the importance of me sharing my experience with them. I knew even before I had began speaking that they would be astonished by how my school life was in Ghana. I was very honored to speak because the TPS superintendent Dr. Romules Durant was present in the classroom. As I spoke, there was complete silence in the room. The students were very attentive. They kept asking so many interesting questions about how education is in Ghana. In addition to speaking on the importance of education, I also encouraged the students to keep focused and make use of the facilities available to them here in America. I told them about how much it saddened me when I saw students here not taking advantage of the better educational facilities available to them because I knew how it was to study theoretically and not practically.
The staff at the school treated us very well and snacks were provided for us which I really appreciated. It was a wonderful day to me and the experience was one that definitely helped me improve on my public speaking and leadership skills. I will be forever grateful to Books4Buddies for choosing me and Birama to speak to these young leaders whom the future world will depend on.
Angela Davis Black History Month Celebration
Thanks to Mrs. Laneta Goings, I had the chance to participate in the Black History Month celebration and soul food luncheon at the University of Toledo, where I met the Civil Rights Activist, Angela Yvonne Davis. I was blessed with the opportunity to listen to her speech. I learned so much from her speech. I realised that I knew nothing during and after her speech. She hammered so much onevents pertaining to racism and police brutality. She also talked on her experiences as a Civil Rights Activist. She spoke so passionately and emotionally and I realised she had been through so many tough times, and to meet and listen to such a survivor made me feel very fortunate. I had the opportunity to speak personally with Angela Davis for a short while, and she was a wonderful person. Everything I learned during this day up to now still inspires me and I believe that her experiences will continue to be an inspiration for me to achieve my goals in life, and to be a contributor to the rise in the status of Africans the world.
Books4buddies, Meet and Greet
I participated in this year’s Books4Buddies, Meet and Greet at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. It was wonderful. I got the chance to meet the other ambassadors. I had originally seen many social media posts of them collecting books and I was astonished by how many books they've collected. I was very eager to meet them due to their tireless efforts in making the organization stand with the prestige it has as of now. I had, still have, and will continue to have maximum respect for them due to their dedication to serving humanity. The meeting was very successful and I was glad once again to have had the chance to share my experiences as a student in Ghana with them. They were very nice people and they were brilliant as well. I hope to keep on working alongside with them even when I go back to Ghana. I received a 'Certificate of Participation' as an exchange student for which I am most grateful. I believe that it is just the beginning, because I have a vision that is going to take Books4Buddies to a whole new level.
I am very happy to have been a part of this organization and I look forward to being a contributing factor to its success. It is my intention to start a chapter of this organization in Ghana and I am hoping all goes well and that can be achieved. I am a proud representative of this r and I believe, that not only my shirt but my lifestyle, will reflect this organization everywhere I go. Once an AMBASSADOR, always an AMBASSADOR!