Top 30 Under 30 2020
Awurakua is a political science major at the University of Alberta (UAlberta) as well as a passionate poet and lyricist. She was born and raised in Ghana and moved to Alberta in 2016 for university. She has grown to become a global citizen who is passionate about using art as a transformative tool for community building, especially for youth.
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta
Projects and Organizations
2019–Present: International House Community Council UAlberta – Co-President
Since May of 2019, I have been the co-president/facilitator of the International House Community Council, which is a residence association on campus. International House (I-House) is a living-learning community for 154 Canadians and international students attending UAlberta from over 40 different countries. I-House aims to foster global citizenship, socially responsible leadership, and enduring friendships through events and an inclusive governance model. The Global Education Program works closely with residents to animate the community and support and train I-House leaders.
2019: Developing Unity, Nurturing Knowledge – Volunteer / Davis Project for Peace – Grant Recipient
In Ghana, I volunteered with an NGO called Developing Unity, Nurturing Knowledge (DUNK) in one of the neighbourhoods most in need in Accra. DUNK focuses on education for the children of Jamestown through an after-school library and provides after-school sports activities including football and basketball. This past summer (2019), I was awarded the Davis Project for Peace to carry out the “Creative Astonajay” project (a name developed by the participants), which would add an arts and creativity centre to the DUNK premises. The project aims to introduce sustainable practices in the art sessions to advocate for the importance of recycling, hygiene, and a clean environment.
Read more about Awurakua’s work in Ghana here.
Other Affiliations: Learning Centre Literacy Association, Week of Welcome UAlberta, Volunteer Lethbridge
Which of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals resonates most with you?
This is a difficult question, but I would say SDG 4: Quality education is the SDG that resonates most with me as someone coming from Ghana, where literacy rates are low, creating barriers in the day-to-day lives of most citizens. How can one know their rights, or navigate the social services or policies available, if they cannot read or understand what these are? An educated person will be able to get a job and earn a wage, which can help mitigate levels of poverty while working toward zero hunger and good health and well-being. It takes citizens to build a country, but it takes education to facilitate development.
What change would you like to see in the world by 2030?
By 2030, I hope to see a world that provides educational opportunities for people everywhere. For the world to become a better place, it needs more conscious people who are global thinkers and citizens who aware of the events happening in their surroundings and around the world. World citizens can be created, in part, through an extensive education. I hope countries implement inclusive education policies that can reach adults and children, regardless of where they are in each country. As the aims of the SDGs are affiliated with each other, I believe providing quality education is a step to aid in the achievement of all 17 SDGs.
What advice do you have for other young adults looking to get involved in sustainable development?
It is important to know your resources. Ask around for volunteer opportunities and educate yourself on the issues you are passionate about, and ask for help when needed. For example, UAlberta has a lot of opportunities in the residences, if you live on campus, and through International Student Services, faculty associations, or even the campus food bank. One can also take classes that have a volunteering component, such as Community Service Learning classes, which I took and absolutely loved. Or, you can simply start at home by recycling or by taking cutlery with you to the mall to avoid using plastic cutlery. Every action matters, as it affects us and the people around us. Start in your own little way.
“Don’t hesitate to ask questions; that’s how insights are gained and changes are made.”