Welcome to E-fest, an initiative implemented by the EL department here at ALA. It follows the intensive four weeks first years go through whereby they have to initiate a pan African solution to a problem in society. They call this the OID lab which aims at pushing groups into creating a final presentation of their idea.
E-Fest makes the OID Lab seem very easy, all you have to do is present an idea right?… Wrong. During the prior four weeks to the festival, personalities are redefined, especially as people learn that team work is not so easy. Friendships become tense especially if you are put in the same group and you get to see the darker side of people you thought you knew. Social time decreases simply because your group wants to be so perfect that they take up half your time which puts a strain on all your other relations within the community. Tears become common as fights with your EL mentor become strenuous, simply because they do not understand how hard it is to come up with a solution that you will be passionate about.
However, the reasons we go through this process are beyond the negatives. This process takes the naïve firsties and lets them explore ideas in a realistic context, checking for aspects such as feasibility. This process makes being at ALA a significant accomplishment because it shows you how dreaming big can move from just dreaming to a realistic outcome. It reminds one of the values upheld in the ALA community and pushes you to uncomfortable situations and team dynamics that help you emerge as a stronger human being. You learn more about your ability to stay calm, your ability to not care and your ability to solve conflicts by being put in an environment with people who have strong personalities or people that don’t pull their own weight. Simply put, this process is one of the reasons why we learn EL, it fully equips ALA students with skills and the emotional intelligence to conquer anything they desire in the real world.
So don’t be fooled by the smiles you see on stage, behind that mask is a team that has fought, cried, broke down and even resented each other. But it is also a team that has formed better relations within themselves and made new friends in the process. It is a team that will always share a common story. Even though when it is all set and done and there is one winner, all the firsties at ALA have emerged with understanding of what perseverance takes.