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The Minister of Education and More

July 15, 2021
AUTHOR: COLIN TAUFER

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The main goals for Friday were, a) meet the Liberian Minister of Education, Dr. Ansu D. Sonii, firm up our relationship with him, and get a signed memo of understanding for future collaboration, b) give a presentation to a group of law students.

The meeting was set for noon. We arrived on time, walked to the entrance, washed our hands, made it past security, and found our way to the fourth floor via the glass-ceilinged elevator.
We were shown to the minister’s office and waited, only to find out he was in an important meeting and we would need to come back another time. Before leaving Jay was smart to get the contact info of the minister’s assistant. Down but not defeated, we left the ministry and headed for the Murex Plaza Hotel and Suites where our presentation would take place.

It should be noted that twenty-four hours earlier this event was not on our schedule. It came together with the help of our friend Calvin who got the word out, rounded up a group of interested students, found a location, and pulled everything together to make it happen.

The Murex is certainly one of the nicer hotels in Monrovia. The meeting room we used was on the sixth floor next to the rooftop bar/restaurant. The room we used was set up for large meetings with giant room-length tables, microphones at every seat, and four screens placed around the room all hooked up to an A/V presentation system. It was quite nice. Even better was one of the hotel staff, Habib, who helped me get everything connected and working.

We had a firm two hours to deliver. By the time we were ready to go, we had 90 minutes. By the time we were done we had received two rounds of applause from our guests — evidence of how well the TJC Team rolls!

Tim opened by talking about his law school experience with the study tech and his Liberian origin story, from his first flight to Africa and meeting Jay and everything they accomplished with their human rights programs. He explained how their focus turned to education programs and my involvement.

While not part of our presentation, here you can see a photo from the early days of the Tim/Jay partnership. Jay is on the left, his twin brother Steve is on the right.

For our second act, I ran them through the study technology. As I explained to the students, I was going to try to explain to them in 30 minutes what took my two weeks of teaching students at AME University in 2019. I think they kept pace with my fast-talking American accent. I made it interactive all the way, giving them no chance to do anything but pay attention. When I get to the final slide and said my final words, they acknowledged me with a nice round of applause.

This of course set Jay up to be the final act where he so powerfully ties together the power of the misunderstood word with the Liberian pledge of allegiance. The pledge ends with “…with liberty and justice for all,” which gave Jay very rich material to speak deeply about with a group of well-educated law students. The before and after of this experience is always magical. This one was no exception as evidenced by the applause at the end of his presentation. Consequently, we now have more allies who have been introduced to who we are and what we’re trying to do. More seeds planted for future growth and support. Somewhere down the road, these friends will help us in ways we will appreciate.

After the event, all of us ate a meal in/on the rooftop dining room/patio. As we ate, Jay got confirmation that the minister could see us now. That’s when our meals ended. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the ministry. This time there was no waiting and into his office we walked.

As he does, Tim did a masterful job of telling our story and what we hoped to achieve with our visit, all in very few words. The minister was gracious and happy to hear about our mission. He agreed to read the letter, revise as it needed, and get it back to us signed.

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Author: Colin Taufer

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