Author Archive: nikalaasante

Haiti and Belize, Part 1

Greetings!

How are you and your family?  My son and I are doing well.  We have been out of the United States since June 5 traveling in Haiti and Belize.  In Haiti, I served as the coordinator for a medical service trip via University of Houston.  Now, we are in Belize, where I served as the U.S. fundraiser for a project with the Wagiya Foundation to assist the Garifuna community of Seine Bight with aesthetic revitalization in order to boost their tourism economy.

What I would like to discuss with you today is what it was like for my 12 year old son in both of these environments and how I managed his travel as a parent.  Many of us feel super worried about taking our children to “developing” countries because of all of the issues that could possibly arise.  What if they get sick?  What if there is trouble?  Is there risk of kidnapping?  What if they hate the whole experience?  All of these are valid questions that parents have when considering taking their children to a “Third World” country to volunteer.

Notice the unique bottle :-)

To prepare for our trip to Haiti, I boosted my son’s immune system with Kids’ Echinacea compound and chewable probiotics.  I was also careful not too let him eat too much junk food (i.e. vegetarian pizza, greasy chips, etc…) or consume too much dairy in the weeks before our departure.  Mosquito borne illnesses are more likely to affect you if you have a low immune system.

Also, it’s important not to weigh your body down with a bunch of toxins right before a trip to a country where you will not be eating so many processed foods.  If you do, your body will purge once you start eating mango every morning.  On the other hand, if you are eating a pretty clean diet at home, you are much less likely to contract any illnesses or stomach viruses abroad.

In addition to watching his diet and using herbal prevention, I also made sure that he had a big noticeable water bottle to make sure he is getting enough water each day.  We chose a bottle with a unique design so that it would not get mixed up with anyone else’s bottle. Once we arrived in Haiti, we were picked up at the airport by contacts I trusted and escorted to the non-profit compound where we resided, Haiti Communitere (HC).

HC provides a safe space in Port-au-Prince for international volunteers with 24 hour security, clean water, electricity, and wifi.  HC also has a great community garden, fruit trees growing across the whole property, and lovely hammocks for resting. Each day, I organized activities for the pre-med students traveling with me with help from on-the-ground contacts.  Outside of doing some fun stuff like visiting the museum and successful grassroots nonprofits, my group volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity Malnutrition Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital Wound Care, Orphanage Lillevois, an orphanage/school I can’t recall the name of that specialized in serving special needs children, and a few other locations.

5We brought infant formula, children’s vitamins, diapers, prenatal vitamins, medicines, money for food donations, and many other necessities from the United States to distribute to grassroots organizations that were running low.  In addition, we organized 2 clinic days with both American and Haitian medical staff.  Lastly, we hosted a field day and planted a permaculture garden for an orphanage where many children previously suffered from malnutrition.  We have been supplementing these same children for over a year and they are no longer malnourished, thank God.

In order to keep my son safe while accomplishing our trip goals, we participated in all of the excursions, all of the volunteer activities with children, some medical related outings, all of the planting, and none of the clinic days.  I did not feel comfortable having him around sick people for full days in the sun, and that was fine.  If you are planning a service related trip with your children, I recommend following your intuition as to what may be fine for your little ones and what may be overload.  Also, be sure to keep an eye on how they are feeling and make sure they are drinking enough water.  There were a few times when we got a little dehydrated and needed to put electrolyte tablets in our water.  These are important to bring whenever you travel to a place where you may naturally sweat a lot.    

While volunteering is a blessing in itself, I would like to share some fun highlights from our time in Port au Prince.  There is a great cafe in the Delmas 33 area run by the Apparent Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing Haitian parents with jobs so that they do not have to give their children up to orphanages.  Many “orphaned” children are just children whose parents do not have enough money to feed them.  If the parents have income, the families can stay together.  In the Apparent Project’s cafe, they served smoothies, specialty coffees, slushies, pastries, pizza, and more.  They also have music, Foosball, and a big chess board.  My son had a great time there.

Also, you can tour the Apparent Project and see how parents are making dolls, clay cups, tote bags, custom tee shirts, and jewelry to support their families.  My son loved learning about how to make necklaces from recycled cereal boxes.  He also enjoyed seeing how the clay cups were formed by hand.  Now, he wants to take a ceramics class.

Another highlight was having regular lunches at the UN base.  They serve food and drinks from all over the world at affordable prices.  It was refreshing to go there and have cold lemonade or ice cream after a long hot morning, and meet new people from exciting global destinations.

2My little one also really enjoyed the Haitian National Museum, taking a car to the top of the mountain in Petionville, and playing with the children at the orphanages.  We did not go to the beach on this trip to Haiti, but that is normally a really nice excursion too.  Some of the best private beaches are Kaliko or Wahoo Bay, but if you want to save a little money, you can go to a public beach like Taino Beach.

During our free time, I found a balance between assignments to help my son process the trip, such as research and journaling, and allowing him space to just play games on his device or talk to his friends back in the U.S. on Google Hangout.  On any volunteer trip, it’s important to remember that children are children and need room to just have fun.

I will post again soon with updates about how our trip has been in Belize so far and what the highlights are for my son.  What other questions do you have about Haiti, or about keeping your children safe and happy while traveling?  I look forward to hearing them!

 

Until Soon,

Nikala Asante

 

 

Summer Abroad on a Budget

Peace and blessings!

At Haitian malnutrition center spending time with a precious little girl.

At Haitian malnutrition center spending time with a precious little girl.

I pray that you and your family are doing well. How is your summer coming along so far? Ours is progressing beautifully. This summer, we are volunteering for a month and a half in Haiti and Belize. Currently, we are in Haiti for 2 weeks, as I am the trip coordinator for the University of Houston medical service trip to Haiti. Afterwards, God willing, we will spend one month in Belize assisting with a community revitalization project, in which I served as a fundraiser from the US, and will serve as a documentarian and tourist coordinator on the ground.

While I know that you would love to read more about what we are doing in Haiti and Belize, I am going to first elaborate on how you can plan a trip abroad this summer on a budget. In the next post, I will let you in on all of the details of our activities.

Many families want to travel internationally, but find the possibility prohibitive because of cost. Here are ten tips to keep costs low and plan a great trip.

1. Choose a country with a low cost flight from your country of residence.

This summer, we are traveling to Belize. There are flights Houston to Belize throughout the year for $250 – $350 round trip, per person, which is much cheaper than traveling to most Central American countries. You can also travel cheaply this season to Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and Dominican Republic. It would be wise to explore the travel warnings, safety, and ease of ground transportation of each country before you purchase a flight there.

2. Look into hostels and Airbnb. Be sure to read reviews!

I have yet to utilize Airbnb, but I have many friends that have used it with great luck. I’m not a fan of couchsurfing, but if I can rent a couple of rooms or a whole house from a family and see lots of reviews beforehand, I would feel more confident about it. I do, however, use hostels and nonprofits quite frequently for international housing. Right now, my son and I are at Haiti Communitere, a nice international hostel-style nonprofit where our beds, including 2 vegetarian meals each day, are only $25/night. We have electricity, WiFi, clean water, showers, and we get to meet lots of cool people everyday. When I was studying in France, I stayed in St. Christopher’s Hostel in Paris and Barcelona. Research your housing options in the country you plan to travel to, and while doing so, remember that hotels are not your only option.

3. Utilize grocery stores and a kitchen.

A great way to save on food while abroad is to prepare your own food. You can buy beans and rice, bread, peanut butter, jelly, and fruit, from a local grocery store, and save a ton on eating expenses. While I understand that you want to sample the cultural fare, you don’t have to sample it every day and every night. Meals abroad can easily be $10 per person, and for a family of four, or even two, that can add up very quickly. Also, look for sales while at home and stock up on nuts, Clif bars, and trail mix, to bring with you.

4. Organize a group to divide costs.

If you coordinate with another family who wants to travel to the same country, you can plan your itinerary together and split ground expenses. I always invite friends when I prepare to travel. It’s good to have extra set of eyes and hands, and extra contributions to the pot. Just make sure you choose someone you actually enjoy being around.

5. Serve internationally.

If you love helping people, then you can fund your trip through doing some type of needed service internationally. If there is a job associated with it, your flight and housing may be covered, as mine is with my current trip. However, on previous trips, I utilized either scholarships, grants, or crowdfunding (i.e.: CrowdRise, GoFundMe, or Fundly) to assist with costs. When you are doing work to make a difference, people will want to help you, and it’s great to bring your children along to share that experience. Check out idealist.org for jobs for people who love helping people.

6. Teach internationally.

You can teach internationally in various capacities. If you do not have any type of certification nor a 4 year degree, you can teach a subject like Physical Education for an international school. If you do have a degree and an TEFL or TESOL certification, you can work as an EFL (English as a foreign language) teacher in many countries. If you want to teach a core subject at an international American school for pay comparable to what you would make in the US, you will need either a 4 year degree, a teacher’s certification in your state, and 2 years teaching experience OR a 4 year degree, a master’s degree, and some teaching experience. If you are serious about getting a really great teaching position internationally, I recommend going to UNI’s (University of Northern Iowa’s) international teaching fair in February.

7. Lead a tour.

If you have experience traveling, and are ready to share that experience, you may decide to lead a tour abroad. You can advertise to escort parents and children to a country that you have traveled to before, to learn, serve, or have an adventure. For this service, you can charge a reasonable administrative fee that would cover costs for you and your child(ren). It could be a lot of fun! Be sure to have everyone sign a waiver that attests they are responsible for themselves and their children.

8. Travel with an existing tour.

Maybe you do not feel confident enough to lead a tour, but like the idea of being with a guide. Seach tour to (desired country), and throw in “children” or “kid friendly” to find a group that resonates with you. Packages often include airfare, housing, and food, and thus can help cuts costs and planning time.

9. Apply for a grant or scholarship.

If you are in school, or have already matriculated, but enjoy scholarship, you may be able to receive travel funding. If you are an adult undergraduate student, you can apply for scholarships such as Gilman to cover costs, and request to bring your child(ren), if it is manageable. For example, if you have older children or teenagers that could attend a day camp nearby while you are studying French in France, you could present this plan to Gilman with your request for funding. If you are in graduate school, you can apply for a Fulbright or Boren scholarship. As a professional, finished with school, you can still apply for certain Fulbright research grants in your field.

10. Workaway or WWOOF.

A few years ago, I signed up with workaway.info and began communicating with families and organizations internationally who were in need of someone with my skills and talents. Workaway is a site that connect families and orgs globally with individuals (often with children) who would like to work abroad, for short or long periods, in exchange for housing and food. A good match for homeschooling families, especially for single mothers with children, may be helping another family homeschool.

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and consists of working on organic farms, in exchange for housing and food. You can often bring your children and this can be a cheaper way to travel. Keep in mind that this may be hard work and that the locations in which you are working may be away from all of the touristic attractions.

A hope this is a great start on your journey to spending a summer abroad with your children. Let me know if you have any questions (or comments). I look forward to hearing from you soon! Safe travels!

Love and Light,

Nikala Asante

Best of Q & A: Part 1

Peace and blessings,

I pray that you and your family are having a great week so far.  We are getting a lot of rain here in Houston.  Too much rain, actually.

On my last post, I ran a Q & A contest and received lots of great questions.  Since many parents have the same questions in mind, I am going to share some of the best questions and answers as posts.  Please let me know if you have any more questions along the way.  I may have answers! :-)

Question from Alisha:

Hi there! This fall will be my first year homeschooling my boys (entering 1st and kindergarten). Any tips on how to teach to their levels of understanding without moving too fast for one but not too slow for the other? (I’m not sure if that answers the question in itself) Thanks in advance!

Answer:

Hi Alisha,

Thank you for your question. The first step to homeschooling with children of any age is to research your state’s legal requirements. You can visit HSLDA for this information.

Next, look into local support groups and activities for your children. Here in Houston, for example, we have an African-centered homeschooling collective that meets daily and lots of city-wide weekly activities. For instance, the Houston arboretum offers a science class for homeschool students that I have enrolled my son in, in the past. The local museums also offer classes and workshops for homeschool students here.

Thirdly, reflect on your children’s learning styles. It may be of benefit to you to research student-centered learning. Since your children are no longer in public school, the approach does not have to be based on what works for everyone. You can teach your children based on specifically what works well for them.

Next, choose a curriculum or system. Kamali Academy offers an African centered curriculum scope and sequence. Here is a list of free curriculum that you can review as well: http://howtohomeschoolforfree.com/full-online-homeschool-curriculum/

You can also use some of this and some of that like when you are preparing a special stew. We use a combination of resources, based on what is best for my son.

Lastly, enjoy the process. Be forgiving of yourself. Be gentle. Be forgiving of your children. They are taking a new journey. Talk to experienced parents for support. Have fun – lots of fun. With children of those ages, you really do not need to cover academic subjects more than 3 or so hours each day. Outside of that, play outdoors, paint, sing, dance, make crafts, watch education videos, go on field trips, explore nature, watch the stars, converse, prepare food together, give hugs, watch movies, discuss, and just have a blast.

Love and Light,

Nikala

Ask Me A Question! + Another Contest!

nikalaasantePeace and blessings!

I pray that you and your families have been well.  We have been doing a lot of traveling over the past 6 months and I have not been staying on top of posting.  As a result, several parents emailed me recently asking when I would be posting again and if I was still homeschooling my son.  Yes, we are still homeschooling, stronger than ever, and I have sooo much to share with you all.  I apologize for falling away for a while, and would like to make a commitment to you since I see that you are following and looking for resources.  From today forward, I commit to posting new resources at least 2 times per week.  

Now, I will need your help in meeting this commitment.  Please share with me your questions, your concerns, and your needs as relates to homeschooling.  The first 15 parents to ask a question on this thread (each of which may become blog posts) will receive a free e-copy of either Tomorrow Will Be Better, Character Building for African Centered Scholars Grades 1 -4, or Character Building for African Centered Scholars Grades 4 and Up via e-mail.  You can read the descriptions of each of these books on my Amazon page.

Thank you for your support in helping me to create quality posts that reflect your needs.  I look forward to continuing to offer quality resources for diverse home educators.  Let’s start – who has the first question? :-) :-) :-)

Love and Light,

Nikala Asante

Do You Have a Book in You?

Greetings Homeschooling Family,

Do you have a book in you?  Have you always wanted to publish a book, e-book, manual, or series, but you just aren’t sure how to get started? Or maybe it is your close friend, parent, or spouse that always talks about wanting to publish and you just don’t know how to support them in achieving their dream.  Maybe you would like for your students to publish a collection of their poetry or essays or to publish a novel for this year’s big school project?

Many people have been asking me lately about the process of self-publishing, so I am offering consultations at an affordable cost.  Visit my other blog, nikalaasante.com, and select one hour consultation if book publishing is an objective that you would like to accomplish.  During our session, I would walk you through the entire process of publishing and also include a complimentary e-manual that I wrote for you to reference back to, “Self Publishing on a Shoestring Budget”, a complimentary Manifestation Planner to guide you through each step of publishing your book with a checklist, and for my blog readers, I will be adding a bonus 30 minutes to your one hour consultation.

What you will get out of the consultation and e-manual:

  • Walks you through the entire self-publishing process – on a shoestring budget!
  • Explains the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
  • Presents the options available for self-publishing your book.
  • Helps you choose the right self-publishing method for your book.
  • Gives instructions on how to obtain your ISBNs and copyright.
  • Guides you to get your book listed for sale on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
  • Guides you to publish your book in print and e-book formats.
  • Discusses marketing strategies that will help you sell your book!

As far as my credentials, I graduated with Honors from the University of Houston with a BA in Creative Writing and I have successfully written, edited, designed covers for, published, and marketed 5 books thus far in the Genres of Non-Fiction, Fiction, and Poetry with an emphasis on Africana Culture & History and Education. People often see my books and ask me, “Who published you and how can I get published?” I respond, “I published myself and you can too.” :-)

Click the Picture Below to Link to Page to Reserve Your One-on-One Consultation:

publishyourself

 

The Best Education Money Can’t Buy

eugene4 (2)

Outside of homeschooling my own son, I also tutor other students part-time. They are mostly private school students. At a session this week with a 7th grader for Pre-AP Algebra, my son, who is in the 6th grade, wanted to jump in and help him with a difficult problem. I stopped my son because I like to give my older students more time to figure it out on their own, but I was proud of him for understanding the work and for taking the initiative to want to help.  It let me know that I was doing something right. :-)

This exchange prompted me to think  about the sacrifices that we make for our children. The parents that I work with often select their neighborhoods and their career paths based on wanting their children to have access to the best possible education. Likewise, I make many decisions based on wanting my son to receive the best education – the one that God has blessed me to provide to him.

At times, I have thought about how I could possibly be making more money if I did not spend the time that I spend with my son.  Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts.  Yet, my sacrifices in the financial area have allowed my son to be more advanced in many subjects than my private school students, though their parents are much stronger than me financially.  Please keep this in mind if you’ve had any financial challenges due to working less hours or not working as a homeschooling mom.  We don’t always have to have more money to do more for our children.  Sometimes having less allows us to do more – and  as a bonus, our children learn not to be materialistic.

For 5 years now, my son has been out of the public school system. At first, I was really just hoping that I was doing the right thing, lol. Thanks to my heightened investment in supporting his academic growth, along with support from friends and strong sister-mentors in my community, we quickly witnessed major improvements in his reading, math, and interest level.  Within 2 years, he had strengthened academically more than I imagined that he could have so speedily.  I knew then that we had to stick with independent education.

Of equal importance to academics, he has had the space over the past 5 years to pursue computer programming, animation, chess, creative writing, visual art, and drumming to the point where they have become passions for him. He has also had space – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to research extensively on one of his greatest loves in life – animals. At the same time, he has a great sense of his culture and history, thanks to both our studies and our strong community.

If I had a lot of money, maybe I would have enrolled him in a private school and secured private tutoring for him from the beginning. When he was struggling with reading at age 6 and I felt like his teachers were against him instead of for him, maybe I would have said, “Forget this – you’re going to the best school that money can buy.” I’m so glad that I wasn’t rich, because it turned out that learning to be my son’s educator was the best decision that I’ve ever made.

If you are considering homeschooling or just starting out, stay strong in your mission. When you feel you are not doing a great job, ask yourself what you can do differently and make changes. All teachers make mistakes. It’s important to recognize these challenges and fix them instead of beating ourselves up about them. When you are doing a great job, celebrate that too. Set goals for each semester and celebrate the goals that you are able to achieve. Homeschooling is like gardening – it’s hard work and you may not the results clearly from the beginning, but it will result in a beautiful harvest.

Also, when you feel discouraged about financial challenges, look at all that your children are able to gain from your sacrifices.  Many resources can be had for free or very little money, so it is not necessary to have a lot of money to homeschool.  Stay strong, focused, and positive – you’re giving your children the best education possible!  Even more importantly, no amount of money can replace the family bonds that are forged all while providing an excellent education!

Stay tuned for the next post which will have money-saving tips, goal setting tips, and other tools for providing the best education that money can’t buy. ;-)

With Love,

Nikala Asante

 

 

 

Book Release + A Contest: Character Building for African Centered Scholars

Greetings,

The time has arrived!  Character Building for African Centered Scholars is available both as a trade paperback and as an e-book!  As you requested, I am running a CONTEST to give away some copies!  The first 7 people to comment on this post will each receive a free e-copy of Character Building for African Centered Scholars.  (If you are one of the lucky winners, please leave a review on Amazon!)

Even those who win copies may still want trade paperbacks too, so here is all of the info for where to snag your copies. (Also, you can check out the awesome Amazon previews!!!):

Character Building for African Centered Scholars, Grades 1 – 4

Character Building for African Centered Scholars, Grades 4 and Up

Again, thank you for your support, and I will be posting lots of great free resources for the semester soon, so be on the lookout!

Grades 1 - 4

Grades 1 – 4

Grades 4 and Up

Grades 4 and Up

Would you like to have a simple, fun, and interactive way to teach your children African centered moral and spiritual principles in a way where they can easily understand and apply them?

I am excited beyond words to announce that I have released a book series titled Character Building for African Centered Scholars.  The first two books are for Grades 1 – 4 and Grades 4 and Up.  The following books in this series will expand more in detail on the ideas covered in the main books or add to them.

In Character Building for African Centered Scholars, your students will learn character building principles from Ma’at, Iwa Pele, Nguzo Saba, the Adrinka Symbols , and more!  The many sacrifices that we make to educate our children are for one reason and one reason only: to shape them into successful, critically thinking, and independent adults with good characters.   Each book is fun, interactive, and written in a way where it serves as both a textbook and a workbook!  I’m so thrilled and you will be too!

With Love,

Nikala Asante

New Book Series: Character Building for African Centered Scholars

Greetings,

Grades 1 - 4

Grades 1 – 4

Grades 4 and Up

Grades 4 and Up

Do you struggle with your children’s behavior at times?  Are you looking for a way to include Character Building in your curriculum, but can only find overly simplistic or strictly religious workbooks on the topic?  Would you like to have a simple, fun, and interactive way to teach your children African centered spiritual and moral principles in a way where they can easily understand and apply them?

I am excited beyond words to announce that I am releasing a book series this August (just a few weeks away!) titled Character Building for African Centered Scholars.  The first two books are for Grades 1 -4 (77 pages) and Grades 4 and Up (107 pages).  The following books in this series will expand more in detail on the ideas covered in the main books or add to them.

In Character Building for African Centered Scholars, your students will learn character building principles from Ma’at, Iwa Pele, Nguzo Saba, the Adrinka Symbols , and more!  The many sacrifices that we make to educate our children are for one reason and one reason only: to shape them into successful, critically thinking, and independent adults with good characters.   Each book is fun, interactive, and written in a way where it serves as both a textbook and a workbook!  I’m so thrilled and you will be too!

Pre-Order Now for a 20% discount!!!  Your book will be shipped by August 31, 2015.

Each chapter is easy to read for self-guided work, with images and lots of activities.  Also, there are additional activities in the back of the book to keep your student engaged and developing an excellent character:

Read an excerpt from the chapter discussing Ma’at (From Character Building for African Centered Scholars: Grades 4 and Up):

MA’AT

“I have satisfied God with that which He loves.  I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and a boat to those without one.” – The Book of Coming Forth by Day

Ma’at is a concept of morality that originated in Kemet (ancient Egypt).  The figure of Ma’at as expressed in hieroglyphic carvings is that of a woman with extended wings or a woman with a feather on her crown.  According to this spiritual philosophy, when a human being transitions out of the physical realm (death), he or she meets Ma’at, and then his or her heart is weighed against a feather.

If one’s heart is weighted heavily with wrongdoing and poor character, it will be eaten by Ammit, a monstrous being who is part lion, part crocodile, and part hippopotamus.   Once this happens, one will not be able to achieve eternal life, but will instead become a restless spirit – a ghost.

How do we interpret this in modern day terms?  First, let’s look at the meaning of eternal life, or immortality.  Can one truly become immortal?  If so, we have not witnessed this phenomenon on earth.  Science has not generated immortality on earth, nor has religion.  However, we do see that humans have achieved immortality through their legacies.

For example, let’s examine the story of Imhotep, who is best known for being the architect of the oldest known pyramid.  He was born around 2,667 BCE – nearly 5,000 years ago.  Imhotep was born neither rich nor privileged, but he worked hard to develop his intelligence and to be of service to those greater than him.  He did not just sit around and think, “I wish that I was smarter,” – he studied regularly to build his knowledge.  He did not just read to make good grades or to impress others.  He put his knowledge into action.  In turn, he developed himself into the first known physician, a legendary architect, a brilliant poet, a scribe, an astronomer, and the advisor to King Djoser.  He went from being a regular kid with no special head start in life to being a multi-talented genius who gave advice to the king.  Wow, isn’t that incredible?

As a result of Imhotep’s practice of good character, he left a legacy that is still widely honored and studied nearly 5,000 years later.  That is a form of immortality.  Imagine – what if people are still learning from your life 5,000 years from now?  That was the goal of many ancient Egyptians – to live their lives so well, with such upright actions, with such beneficial works, that people would still study their lives as examples for how to live, thousands of years later.  Let’s now examine the principles of Ma’at to understand how the Kemetic people went about striving towards immortality.

SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MA’AT

  1. Truth
  2. Justice
  3. Harmony
  4. Balance
  5. Order
  6. Reciprocity
  7. Propriety

What do these principles mean and how can we practice them daily?

TRUTH – Truth is to tell what really happened, i.e. not telling lies.  But, truth is also to understand what is real and what is false.  When we commit to learning history, we can separate fact from fiction and take action based on full knowledge.  For example, we know that Christopher Columbus did not discover America, so we do not honor him, celebrate him, or idolize him in any way.  We instead honor and celebrate real leaders who made sincere contributions to the advancement of African people all over the world, and to all humanity.  Truth also applies to being able to critically analyze the information that we receive for flaws or biases.  If we read a news article that refers to one young male who got into some trouble as a criminal, and another young male of a different ethnic group or culture who made a similar mistake as a troubled teen – that is a bias.  They may have both been troubled teens who needed help.  You can then write in to the news outlet asking them to make a correction, or you can write your own newspaper or blog to report from a more unbiased perspective.  Actions like these would demonstrate your commitment to truth, and also help shape your legacy.

(Pre-order now!)

Check out the Table of Contents for Character Building for African Centered Scholars: Grades 4 and Up.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction                                               7

How to Use this Book                                 11

Character Building Principles:

Ma’at                                               16

Iwa Pele                                            47

Nguzo Saba                                     61

Adrinka Symbols                              74

Character Building Examples:

Queen Nzinga                                  81

Shaka Zulu                                        82

Marcus Garvey                                83

Fannie Lou Hamer                            85

Alice Walker                                     86

Putting Principles into Practice:

Creative Writing                               89

Music                                                          90

Visual Art                                          91

Technology                             92

Critical Thinking                                93

Community Service Extensions                 94

My Glossary                                               97

My Notes                                                    101

Thank you for reading this far!  I may run a contest to offer free copies to select followers.  Comment if you would be interested in a contest of this nature. :-)

All the best to you and your family!

Love and Light,

Nikala Asante

 

Book Release! Tomorrow Will Be Better (plus a contest)

Greetings!

I hope that you and your family are doing well.  Exciting news!  I’ve recently released my newest book - Tomorrow Will Be Better.  Tomorrow Will Be Better is an intimate conversation, a history primer, a discussion of current events, a Spoken Word Collection, and an invitation to engagement in social justice – all in one.   It is a non-fiction book with a target audience of African American youth between ages 14 and 25 seeking to better understand themselves and their roles in the world (although it is appropriate and a great learning tool for persons of ANY ethnicity, ages 14 and up).

As a thank you for your continual support, I am giving out free e-copies of Tomorrow Will Be Better to the first 10 readers to comment on this blog!  Additionally, those who re-post this blog to their page will be entered to win print copies of Tomorrow Will Be Better (with a US mailing address).  Thank you for your support and be sure to check out the full description below!

Tomorrow Will Be Better by Nikala Asante (<—- View Table of Contents and read a sample on Amazon)

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Best,

Nikala Asante

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Hello, I’m Nikala Asante – a 29 year old mother, creative writer, Spoken Word artist, independent educator, Web Series producer, and international Human Rights advocate.  As the mother of a 10 year old son, the future of our youth is extremely important to me. In this vein – for the past 6 years, I have been actively tutoring and mentoring inner-city high school and college students. Through this work, I have been blessed with an understanding of the challenges that my generation and my son’s generation faces, as well as methods to overcome these challenges.

Concurrently, I have been blessed to traverse 9 countries in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean over the past 4 years, engaging in service and research projects that granted me a greater understanding of the world at large. All of this from the basis of a rough upbringing, earning my GED at age 22, surviving an abusive relationship, and many other immense struggles on the path to self-actualization.

Now, I am sharing my own life story, documentation of my travels, historical and cultural context for each place that I visited, how these histories and cultures connect to current events in the United States, and creative responses to what I have witnessed a concise collection of chapters, Spoken Word and interactive workshop modules. I earnestly believe that this book can and will change lives. I appreciate your support!

Who This Book Is Written For

This book is targeted to African American youth, ages 14 -25, but can be enjoyed by any mature reader.

About The Author

Nikala Asante is a creative writer, Spoken Word artist, web series producer, independent educator, and international Human Rights advocate from Houston, TX. Asante fell in love with organizing around Human Rights after traveling to the Dominican Republic to learn about garment worker rights organizing with Solidarity Ignite in 2013. Since then, she has returned to Dominican Republic and Haiti independently and with the University of Houston to help set up medical clinics, to distribute food and water, to plant food bearing trees in deforested areas, to deliver needed supplies, children’s vitamins, and toys to orphanages, and to create archives of personal narratives about Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

In her community, Asante organizes homeschooling parents around educational events and field trips to advance their children’s learning experiences, as well as tutoring and mentoring inner-city youth. Asante has received numerous awards from the community and university, including the prestigious Gilman International Study Scholarship. She was featured in Defender Networks’ Black History special on young leaders following in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in 2013, on PBS NewsHour in 2015, and has spoken on Human Rights in two documentaries (“16th Strike: the Documentary” and “Nice: A Place to Start”).

Asante has published two collections of poetry, Graffiti Nommo and Re-Divining Self. Additionally, Asante recently published her first web series in 5 episodes, Pharaoh the Web Series — available for viewing on YouTube. She is currently in the process of developing her own non-profit to connect students with international service learning opportunities – Asante Global Works.

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Asante Global Works

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Pharaoh the Web Series

Roadschooling for International Service Work in Haiti: Part 2

Greetings,

Thank you for reading this far!  Please feel free to refill your drink as I share the remainder of our January journey and a bit about our future plans with this work.

At Sadhana, I was inspired by how well organized that allocation of our duties were.  Because we were cooking on an open fire, someone had to be cooking literally all day. We did it collectively, in shifts The first cooking shift began at about 6:00 to have breakfast ready by 8 or 8:30.  The next shift began right after breakfast and the final shift began right after lunch.  Also, we tended to the area.  I dug holes with a pick axe to plant citronella around the kitchen hut and main hut.

We washed dishes daily with sea sponges, ashes, and vinegar.  We stumbled through cacti and tall weeds to collect fallen sticks to light our daily cooking fires.  I embraced the hard work, even in the 90 degree sunlight.  The only job that I avoided was cleaning the restrooms – makeshift 3/4 enclosed palm leaf huts with buckets inside for pee and poo.  I really avoided that job, lol.  My son did hard work too, but I let him take a lot of breaks.  He was so excited to be able to come home and tell his friends that he used a real machete.

There were bonuses to being at Sadhana.  We not only got to participate in all aspects of reforestation, but to distribute food bearing trees to neighboring residents around Anse a Pitre.  It filled me with great joy.  Other bonuses that warmed my heart were:

  • Distributing clean water through the community every time that we “flooded” the canal to irrigate the trees.  The water had to flow by people’s houses and yards before it reached the treed areas.  Women would stand outside with buckets and jugs collecting the water to bathe, wash clothes, and even to drink.
  • Learning the art of water conservation AKA “How to Grow a Forest in the Desert”.
  • Learning to build a rocket stove – an outdoor stove made of red soil, water, and donkey poo.  The donkey poo acts like concrete and is completely hygienic after the drying and the heating.

  • Learning to use solar ovens to prepare simple meals.
  • Participating in the distribution of and a workshop on solar ovens to the local women.
  • Solar oven cake!!!
  • Conducting research and experiments to see how to build a natural refrigerator and how to make ice by using a solar oven at night (only partially successful, lol).
  • Friday Documentary Film watching nights (with Solar Power, projector, and a sheet!)
  • Learning about local culture.
  • Dancing to Haitian drumming.
  • Practicing Capoeira Angola with international volunteers.

  • Drinking rich creamy Haitian hot chocolate on a cold night with my friends. (It gets cold at night in the desert.)
  • Learning to cook new healthy meals.
  • Making new friends.
  • Seeing children’s smiles surround me every time that I took a walk around Anse a Pitre.
  • Holding a Writing Workshop and poetry reading for the Sadhana community.

  • And mostly, my son’s enjoyment of it all, his growth, his writing, his love for Haitian food, love for being outdoors 24/7, inspired love for helping others, and his excitement to return and continue helping at the earliest opportunity.

I have been teaching my son bits of French, Spanish, and Kreyol over the past few years without enough consistency and no formal lessons.  After this trip, he is motivated to learn all three languages without prodding, because he wants to be able to communicate on his own in situations like our recent trip.  I cannot measure the effect that our journey had on him now, because I am confident that it developed him in ways that I will not notice until he is an adult.  I am so happy with how everything went.  So, so happy.

I will return to Haiti March 13 – March 23, 2015 to continue equity creating work in the areas of clean water security, fresh food security, and preventative health. Many people have asked me about how they can support these initiatives. Thus, I am offering this campaign as a means of making our efforts cooperative.  The fundraising goal is $1,200.  If you would like to contribute, I have a page set up at https://www.crowdrise.com/nikalainhaiti.

We are so excited about the itinerary! My friend Happy, an experienced RN, and Nailah, a 19 year old certified permaculturist, will be traveling with me. We will volunteer at Sadhana Forest in the mornings through Thursday, March 19. In the afternoons, we will travel to assess methodology for planting trees in the neighboring town of Recif. A representative of Sadhana has volunteered trees and extra hands so that we can plant right away, while we assess how to plant more!Also, we will document how the town of Thiotte builds their natural rainwater collecting barrels, and if their method is replicable in other areas of Haiti for gathering clean water.

On Thursday, we will make our way to Port au Prince to the Family Nursing School at 28 Delmas. I built a relationship with them on my May 2014 trip to Haiti, where I set up medical clinics in tent cities with the University of Houston Honors College Medicine and Society Program and assisted Dr. Carl Lindahl in training Haitian earthquake survivors to conduct interviews of other survivors to preserve authentic narratives and serve as a tool for mental healing (survivortosurvivorstories.com). The interviewers were paid for a full year’s Haitian wages for less than a month’s work – finally, fair wages!

In Delmas, we will meet with Haitian survivors who are interested in being future interviewers for Survivor to Survivor to offer them that economic and service opportunity. Also, I will facilitate setting up a space for Happy will teach a workshop to a large group of nursing students on maternal health. Lastly, I will travel with the director of 28 Delmas to take pictures of an area where he is building a school and a community to assess and document it so that I can help with their water supply.

A few people in Houston have pledged possible assistance through either well digging or water filtration, so I need to see which system would work best for the area. Also, this new community in Delmas is a desert area similar to Anse a Pitre, so there is also the potential for food growth based on what I’ve learned.

Thank you again for reading and please feel free to comment or email me with any questions that you have.  The next post will present options and advice for parents to travel with their homeschooled children for international service work.

All Love,

Nikala Asante