Guineans Succeeding in America, an NGO dedicated to empowering the Guinean community through education and career development, took their 5th annual conference virtual this year.
Prior to COVID, the organization met every year to connect young members of the community with distinguished professionals from Guinea or of Guinean descent in order to network or share advice on handling academic or career challenges.
This year’s theme was “Embracing Change in the Face of COVID-19” and close to 50 people logged on Zoom Saturday, Nov, 28, to listen to a handful of panelists share advice and thoughts on the best ways to handle additional challenges brought on by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Here are a few takeaways from this year’s conference:
- You reap what you sow. “You put in a good effort and goodwill, you will get good results,” said Mohamed Beavogui, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General and development finance and risk management executive. As one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Beavogui shared some of the lessons he has learned during his 40-year-long career. Beavogui shared that one of the greatest lessons life has taught him is that although the fruits of labor may not be immediately apparent, working hard and standing by your values will always lead to good things in life. “If you don’t put in goodwill or good effort, you won’t get good results.”
- Focus on the long term. The conference’s second keynote speaker, Kadiatou Diallo, a systems analyst at Deloitte Canada, urged everyone at the conference to remember “it’s crucial to think of the long term in everything.” Diallo’s dreams of pursuing more higher education were put on hold when she abruptly had to move from the United States to Canada eight years ago. Arriving in Canada with only a visitor’s visa, Diallo had to wait two years before she could obtain permanent residency and begin the process of applying to graduate school. During those two years, Diallo did whatever she could not let her current situation get in the way of her goals and continued her path to further her education by taking advantage of English classes at community centers and participating in career development workshops. Eventually, she was able to gain admission to the University of Quebec and graduated with a master’s degree in public administration. She is currently working towards a graduate diploma in accounting at McGill University.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone and it has been particularly hard for students personally, academically and financially. Abdoul Rahim Bal, the finance and budget lead for Guineans Succeeding in America as well as the Baruch College GSA chapter, told conference attendees that the pandemic has impacted him “personally and professionally” and during the spring he found it difficult to cope with the resulting anxiety and depression. But he urged others to not keep their worries bottled up and lean on others during challenging times. “Speak up, share with your loved ones, with your parents,” he said. “You don’t deserve to deal with anxiety and depression alone.”
- A change of attitude can be life-changing. A second pandemic lesson Bal learned, is how the only thing he is truly in control of in life is his response to what it throws at him. “You can’t control everything but what we can control is how we react to situations,” said Bal. Sometimes a person’s mental health does not let them completely control their response to stress. But what Bal meant is actively trying to see the opportunity or lessons from life’s challenges can help make them more manageable.
For more information on Guineans Succeeding in America and how to take part in future conferences and events check out their Facebook page.