Throughout the course of each TFFT Scholar’s educational journey (an average of 12 years), many lasting connections and relationships develop. When a scholarship is completed, it is not possible to end the interest and concern for that young person. They have been family for too long! While financial support of a scholarship may come to an end, the psychological connection continues.
The number of TFFT Alumni is growing as scholars complete their formal education. Presently, we have 11 alumni and within a year, we will have 16 alumni. TFFT’s Scholarship Program is making efforts to start an Alumni Group that will see to the needs of our past scholars. To this effort, we gathered our alumni a few weeks ago, for our inaugural meeting.
Our first important step was rebuilding connections and catching up on what has happened over the last year or so. Our meeting started like most family gatherings in Tanzania – with tea, cake, and samosas. The scholars who were able to attend chatted informally, reminisced about old times, and shared stories they knew about others who were not present. All enjoyed the reflective exercise that followed, where participants thought about and shared their ambitions and dreams, their roots, and all the people along the way who have supported them.
Some of our alumni have retained close connections with TFFT, visiting the office often to assist with programs and running mentoring sessions with the younger scholars. However, most alumni have traveled throughout Tanzania to pursue careers and independent lives. For our first meeting we had one alumnus travel from Lushoto, and it was great that he had the opportunity to connect with old friends. He was so enthusiastic and excited. This reminds us that TFFT Scholars have developed strong bonds, and meetings such as this are indeed a celebration.
The purpose of alumni groups can vary, and how to formulate a functional dynamic and purposeful group is learning experience. For most of us on the day of the first group meeting, it was a new concept. Members of the TFFT team hoped that the group of alumni could start planning activities they would like to do, but what we found is the group really didn’t have much of an experience of a group such as this and what it could achieve. Therefore, we took time to discuss the function of alumni groups in general, the power of networking, and the importance of giving back to the society.
Phone numbers were exchanged and promises to meet in a few months were made. Our Alumni Group has great potential and we were encouraged to think that it will be a great way to maintain connections. As more TFFT scholars graduate, our Alumni Group will grow in numbers and in strength.