ACU Summer School student stood in front of community library in Sierra Leone

ACU Summer School 2020: Student Q&A

Published on 19 October 2020

ACU Summer School unites students from every corner of the Commonwealth to discuss multidisciplinary issues of global importance.

In 2020 delegates from across the Commonwealth came together to examine themes linked to migration, including: climate change, youth and health.

Here we have Baimba Osman Sheriff sharing his experience of ACU Summer School 2020. Baimba is a candidate in the MPhil Sociology programme at the University of Sierra Leone, and currently works as a Temporal Teaching Assistant (TTA) in the Department of Sociology and Social Work.

What made you apply for the ACU Summer School?

I applied for the ACU Summer School to learn about the migration generation, and how I can help solve migration issues in my country. I also wanted to work collaboratively with students from across the globe in finding answers to issues linked to migration.

What did you find most interesting in the programme?

I found the Deadly Voyage film screening interesting but also very emotional. The film follows the story of eight refugees as they stow away on a cargo ship headed for the United States, in the search of a better life. I was able to connect the story to my primary school friend who passed away in the Mediterranean in 2018. The presentation of Ghanaian history and cultural heritage by Mr. Kwesi Essel-Blankson was also a great eye-opener. It revealed to me the reality of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

How has your thinking or understanding of migration changed?

My thinking and general perception about migration has changed considerably. I have come to realise that as a global phenomenon, migration can only be minimised not eradicated. I also learnt that migration can be linked to climate change. Through this, I developed an understanding of common causes of migration and its impact on young people in particular.

Why do you think is it important to collaborate with students from across the Commonwealth?

It’s important for students from across the Commonwealth and beyond to collaborate because through collaboration we can share diverse, cross-cultural knowledge on the important issues affecting humanity globally. We all have our unique experiences, skills, and expertise. These strengths can be realised when we collaborate and work together for the general good of humanity.

I have plans to continue working with my team members and we are still maintaining contact through the social media platforms created for our group’s discussions and presentations. We are leveraging these platforms for possible research collaborations.

Why do you believe higher education is important for building a better world?

I believe higher education is the bridge between transformation and underdevelopment. Higher education answers critical global and regional problems through international collaboration, research and information sharing. This is why I think the transformation of higher institutions of learning globally is important, especially in developing countries.

How will your experience of ACU Summer School help you in your studies?

Taking part in the ACU Summer School has allowed me to meet other students with shared academic interests. The impact of migration on access to education really interests me. The experience has merged my learned experience and current academic aspirations. I plan to organise community youth talks to sensitise young people on the dangers of illegal migration, and I will also share experiences with students at the University of Sierra Leone through my role as a TTA.

Why do you think the voices of young people are so important? 

The voices of young people are so important because young people occupy a significant space across the globe. As pathfinders, their contributions are critical to devising solutions to global problems. In responding to the demographic dividend, especially in Africa, we need young people’s voices to address critical issues of development and transformation. For example, I am effecting change through the work of the Children’s Assurance Program Sierra Leone (CAP-SL), an organisation creating access to education for children and skills development for women in rural communities in Sierra Leone.