“The whole idea of ALA is to have African students feel that they have potential to change the continent,” he said. “They’re trying to nurture us and then put us in situations where we have to sort of practice forms of leadership and entrepreneurship creativity.”
ALA has a unique curriculum that includes courses in entrepreneurial leadership, writing and rhetoric, African studies and Cambridge A-levels.
Kyende Kinoti, sophomore and former ALA student, said the organization is based on financial aid so that they can accept people from all backgrounds and economic classes. A former ALA student that receives financial aid doesn't have to pay back the loans, if that individual returns to Africa and works for 10 years after they graduate from a university.
Kinoti said in the second year of ALA, its students run an enterprise on campus. Some students sold ALA hoodies, while others created an on-campus radio station, prepared organic food for the dining hall and came up with other creative initiatives.
“Back at ALA, we were a lot more excited about learning and finding a way to apply whatever we were learning to some project that we were passionate about or something, but then, here, things seem a lot more GPA-oriented,” Ogbo said.
Coming from a place where the students were all from different cultural backgrounds, Ogbo and Kinoti said that they had to transition to UNC, a university that was less-diverse.
“UNC is kind of homogeneous in the way the population is set up,” Kinoti said. “A lot of people mainly come from North Carolina and then it’s also a predominately-white institution, and ALA is not.”
Ogbo said he could only relate to a few people.
“People would try to relate to me as an African American, but then most people didn’t realize the cultural disconnect between being African American and being just African,” he said.
Ogbo said his favorite part about ALA was hearing 50 different languages spoken in the same room at the same time and said he struggled coming to UNC, where there weren’t many other African students.
“There were times I would make some jokes and then no one would understand,” he said. “And I was like 'Dikenna, the plot line of the joke wasn’t even in English, what were you thinking?'”
In the summer of 2017, a group of students from the Kenan-Flagler Business School went on a study abroad program to various parts of the world to learn firsthand about businesses. As part of their curriculum, the students toured ALA’s campus.
“The emphasis (at ALA) is really on, 'We want you to come here and come up with an idea or an entrepreneurial venture to better the community, and we are going to give you the resources to help you achieve that,'" junior Tyler Kelly said.