Education Foundation Hosts Penn State University Professor to Promote Poetry, Creative Writings

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Dr. Wesley (center, sunglasses) poses with participants at New Hope Academy campus

Monrovia – Consistent with its objective to promote youth and educational development in Liberia, the Better Future Foundation (BFF), in partnership with New Hope Academy (NHA), on July 18, 2019, hosted daylong poetry and creative writing workshop for high school and university students.

Facilitated by a renowned Liberian scholar and author, Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, who is also Professor of English and Creative Writing at Pennsylvania State University in Altoona, United States of America (USA), the workshop, held at the auditorium of the NHA in Jacob Town, Peace Island, in Paynesville, seeks to scout for, and provide mentorship for Liberian youth to express themselves through creative writing using fiction, poetry and prose.

At least 50 Liberian students and youth from the state-owned University of Liberia (UL), St. Clements University, African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU) and Stella Maris Polytechnic and Mother Patern College of Health Sciences, including students from New Hope Academy High School, among others who participate in this program are expected to be integrated into an umbrella group, styled: “Young Scholars of Liberia”.

At the workshop, Dr. Wesley who is widely regarded as one of the most prolific African poets of the 21st Century, drilled the workshop participants in various techniques and steps in writing and inspires them to use their knowledge and skills to tell the Liberian and African stories.

 “There are lots of things about Liberian literature that we need to revisit,” she told the participants.

Dr. Wesley, who has authored five books including “When The Wanderers Come Home (An African Poetry); River is Rising; Becoming Ebony; In Monrovia, The River Visits The Sea; Where The Road Turns; and Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa” said Liberian writers need to explore and showcase the rich culture of the country in their professional works.

Moreover, she told the workshop participants about the importance of focusing on culturally sensitive and educational stories for Liberian and other children whose narratives are largely missing from the children’s book publishing industry.

Dr. Wesley, who taught for more than a decade at the University of Liberia (UL), pointed out that Liberia needs “Cultural Revolution” aimed at enlightening the minds of its citizens, including the youth, to embrace and adhere to its attractive cultural values and traditions as diametrically opposed to “political revolution.”

“Right now, almost every Liberian wants to be President, Senator, and/or a Representative. But we need to change the way we do things.  In order for us to change the ways we do things, we need renewed minds and to think differently,” she emphasized.

According to the award-winning Liberian author and professor, Liberia needs trained teachers, doctors, engineers and other professionals to provide quality and impactful services to its citizenry.

She also underscored the need for the Government of Liberia (GOL) to place premium on the establishment and operation of schools and other learning institutions across the country so as to develop the country’s human resource capacity.

She made it clear that the Liberian nation cannot be developed without building and enhancing the learning capacity of its citizens.

Dr. Wesley said the establishment of the group, Young Scholars of Liberia, is part of her professional efforts and commitment aimed at giving back to her country, Liberia, in its national development drive.

She disclosed that the poems and other writing works by the young Liberian writers are being published in local and other leading media outlets such as the famous International Journal of the Arts and other periodicals in India, the People Republic of China (PRC), Japan, among others. 

Dr. Wesley’s works have appeared in some of the reputable journals around the world such as Cortland Review, Crab Orchard Review, Midday Mood, and New Orleans Review.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wesley, at the climax of the workshop presented a set of reading books authored by her to be deposited in the library of the New Hope Academy for use by the school and the surrounding communities. 

Making remarks on behalf of the workshop participants, Ms. Geraldine A. Flomo, a recent graduate of Cuttington University, lauded Dr. Wesley for immensely impacting knowledge into them.

Ms. Flomo assured Professor Wesley that such knowledge would be used in the best interest of the country.

She also commended the workshop organizers including the Better Future Foundation, New Hope Academy and Youth Beyond Barriers (YBB) and characterized the training as very resourceful.

Making remarks at the occasion, Rev. Joma Woiwor, a prominent Liberian clergyman said Liberia is still in transition from war to peace as such, he praised Dr. Wesley and organizers of the forum for the resources and time dedicated to mold the minds of the youth to sustain the peace in the country and contribute towards national development.

Also making remarks at the occasion, BFF Founder and President, Augustine Arkoi cautioned the youth that acquiring skill to express oneself through writing is the foundation for the attainment of professional freedom and self-reliance.

Arkoi commended Dr. Wesley for her passion aimed at the academic empowerment and development of Liberian youth. He assured Dr. Wesley of BFF/NHA’s commitment and collaboration to work with her in developing the requisite skills of Liberian youths and students through an institutionalized poetry and creative writing professional certificate course during her next sabbatical in Liberia.

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