CeOSA Convention 2017 Project Report

Prepared by Comfort Macauley-Kabay, Secretary-General/Manager

BACK GROUND INFORMATION

The purpose of a convention is for members of an organization to come together to share ideas and discuss the goals and aspirations of the said body. It should therefore not be construed as a fundraiser. Goals should be set at convention and fundraisers can be organized later to accomplish those goals. 

In the early part of 2016, there were discussions about CeOSA North America convention to be held in Huntington, Indiana. Mr. Francis Mustapha had informed the organization that the University was working on a global initiative. He explained that it will be wise for CeOSA North America to establish a relationship with the University, as Centennial would be a perfect fit for this initiative. The Chairman, Abu Hassan Koroma and some members agreed, and that CeOSA should act on this information in a timely manner. In April 2016, a delegation was sent to Huntington on an exploratory mission. However, after that mission, the organization could not come to an agreement to host the convention in Huntington.

In 2016 CeOSA North America convention was held in Lanham, Maryland. The University of Huntington sent two representatives Dr. Mike Wanous (Vice President and Dean of the faculty) and Dr. Luke Fetters (Director of Global Ministries) to the convention to follow up on the discussion that arose during the exploratory visit of CeOSA North America.  To solidify this relationship, the Chairman and the Board thought it fit to host the 2017 Convention in Indiana and at the University. Since the U B mission has its headquarters in the Huntington, we felt the convention will also help us to reconnect with the U B mission. Hence the theme for this year’s convention “Returning to our Roots.”

The CeOSA Board agreed to make the convention a project thereby giving the project manager the flexibility needed to plan the convention. In the past convention payment for products and services were channeled through the treasurer, and individuals planning the convention had to pay for services out of pocket and submit receipts to the Treasurer for a refund. Given the fact that most of the members involved in the planning did not live in the same state as the treasurer, this sometimes-created undue stress and hardship on those individuals.  

This year’s convention was held from August 3-6, 2017. The program is attached as Annex 1, the financial statement as Annex 2, receipts and invoices as Annex 3.Ceosa-Convention-2017-Financial-1Download

Thursday, August 3rd was for participants to travel and a meet and greet session was held at the:

Great Wall Chinese Restaurant
Address: 1940 N Jefferson St, Huntington, IN 46750
Hours: 6 pm – 10 pm
Phone: (260) 356-8828

After meet and greet session there were registration and room assignments for participants who had opted to stay on campus. During this time convention packages including paraphernalia were also distributed and receipts were issued to those who had not pre-paid their convention fees and paid in cash at the time of registration. All participants were reminded about the events of the day with an emphasis on the punctuality.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 4TH, 2017– CONVENTION DAY

Ron Baker, MD Receives Award of Recognition from CeOSA NA

All other participants picked up their convention bags and nametags on August 4th prior to entering the convention hall. Receipts were issued to those who paid their fees or gave donations on the day of the convention.

The program went on for the whole day with an hour lunch break. There was another break, to allow Dr. Wanous to take participants for a sightseeing tour of the University campus. There was also a question and answer session and an award ceremony to honor several individuals for their dedication and service to CeOSA.

Honorees this year were:

  • Mr. Francis Mustapha
  • Rev. Joseph Abu
  • Mrs. Nancy Ngele
  • Dr. Ron Baker
  • Ms. Isatta Conteh (Mary (Mustapha) Samforay accepted the award on behalf of Isatta
  • Huntington University (Dr. Mike Wanuos received the Plaque on behalf of H U)

The convention concluded with a dinner break for all-day participants, and a closed session convened for CeOSA members only.

Several initiatives were discussed, and the following resolutions were taken:

  • To hold the 2018 convention in Huntington, to build on the relationship with HU and establish credibility as we work on establishing CeOSA North America regional chapters.
  • To purchase lawn mowers-a drivable lawn mower and several manual lawn mowers for Centennial Secondary School.
  • Creation of a new school signboard.

The timeline for the purchase of the lawnmowers and the new school signboard was set for December 2017.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5TH, 2017:

At the gravesite of Pa and Mama Baker
At the gravesite of Ms. Bernadine Hoffman

The Day of Gratitude started with breakfast on campus and participants traveled to Michigan to the wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Ms. Bernadine Hoffman. We were accompanied by Mr. Jim Hoffman (nephew of Ms. Hoffman) and Mrs. Nancy Ngele. The mini service was held at the gravesite led by Rev. Charles Conteh. The group proceeded to the gravesite of the late Pa. and Mama Baker. We had prepacked lunches for the day which enabled us to eat lunch on board the bus on our way to the Bakers. We were joined by Dr. Ron Baker (Ngo. Ron) and other members of the Baker family including Uncle Gene Baker (younger brother of the late Dr. E D Baker) for the short service and the wreath-laying ceremony presided over by Rev, Charles Conteh. After the ceremony, we proceeded to Fort Wayne.

This year one of our elder brothers of CeoSA Mr. Francis Mustapha who lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana invited us for an African style dinner at his residence. His family and his sister Mary SamForay, another elder of CeOSA treated us to African cuisine. It was a fun-filled evening.  Mr. Mustapha also volunteered to host Principal Sengeh for the duration of his visit to the United States. After the dinner, we returned to campus to prepare for the final day of the program.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 6TH, 2017

CeOSA North America Delegate to the 2017 Convention Pose after Church Service

We attended Sunday service on at the at College Park United Brethren Church on the Huntington University Campus at 8:30 am.  Rev. Gary Dilley suggested we attend the 8:30 am service, as that was the service that Mama Baker attended when she was alive and some of her friends were in the congregation.

Rev. Dilley graciously consented to include CeOSA in their worship program. We were given the opportunity to share information about CeOSA and the connection to the Baker family and the chairman introduced CeOSA members who attended the service. The program ended with lunch at the conference center. Participants said their goodbyes and those who stayed on campus checked out and all keys were returned to the proper authorities.

Comments

Overall the program went well as planned, however, the number of old students who participated in the convention was not encouraging. There were about 14 old Centennial Students who attended the convention including Principal Sengeh. Based on the information received on the website, the chairman has often mentioned that the newsletter goes out to more than 150 individuals. Information about upcoming events is always posted in the newsletter yet it is always a handful of individuals that participate in these events. Despite the efforts of the current chairman Mr. Abu Hassan Koroma and the current board to disseminate information on several social media platforms, the response of old student in the diaspora has been minimal. To the best of my knowledge, having participated in or organized some of these events, I can testify that the current board has carried the weight of the organization for the last two years. Out of the 14 old Centennial students who were present at the convention, 8 of them were board members.

Another gesture that was an indicator of accomplished goal, was the sponsorship of Madam Rita Savage and Principal Sengeh by Huntington University to attend the global leadership conference, which was held in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

L-R: Principal Sengeh, Chairman Askia, Bonthe District Chairman, Rita Savage, CeOSA NA VC Rosetta Tarley

We were also able to learn from the Hoffman family about the Bernadine Hoffman Memorial Fund established to benefit individuals wishing to serve at Centennial. Post-Convention we have been informed that a scholarship fund has been established to benefit Centennial alums and their children wishing to study at Huntington University.

Convention Survey and Data Analysis

After the convention, a survey was sent out through Google to help us determine whether our project goal which was to forge a stronger bond between Huntington University and subsequently the U.B.C. mission was met. We consider both institutions as parental institutions to Centennial Secondary School. We also wanted to know what we did right and what we can do better. Only ten individuals have responded.

Ten respondents attended the convention, however, only 60% watched the program in its entirety. The rest watched some of the programs. This was due to the duties that they had to perform during the program.

Overall the respondents rated the convention a success and that in their opinion we achieved our goal in establishing a stronger bond with both the U. B Mission and Huntington University. The presentations by Principal Sengeh and Dr. Mike Wanous played a vital role in accomplishing this goal. The Principal’s presentation painted a clear picture of the needs of the school Dr. Wanous’ presentation explained H U’s commitment to Centennial.

All the speakers were commended for their presentation and collectively they made an impact in achieving the program goal. Included in the survey were a request for suggestions for speakers for future conventions. Below are the names that were suggested:

  • Mike Wanous
  • Huntington University President
  • Principal Sengeh
  • Chief Ali Badara Sherriff (Paramount Chief of Jong chiefdom)
  • Emmanuel Fatoma
  • Dr. Lauretta Will
  • Dr. Joseph Kposowa
  • Old Students, as many students became Christians because of attending Centennial.
  • The Missionary panel.
  • Ngo Ron Baker

The day of gratitude was overwhelmingly applauded; for some, it showed how much old students valued the sacrifices of the missionaries. For others, it brought closure to the passing of Mama Hoffman and an opportunity to pay our respects to the departed.

The Thanksgiving Service was a great way to end the convention.

Respondents that stayed on campus enjoyed their stay. It was reminiscent of the boarding home atmosphere at Centennial. However, the air-conditioning was the major complaint; the temperature was too cold. A situation we hope to remedy next time.

Suggestions and Recommendations

There were several suggestions and they are all highly appreciated;

  1. Better transportation arrangement—planning ahead of time.  Individuals are responsible for their own transportation costs to and from the venue as transportation is not included in convention fees.
  2. In the future, if there are a larger number of participants, the issue will be revisited to make it easier for individuals intending to attend the convention.
  3. Another recommendation would be for transportation estimates/ deposits be paid online in addition to the convention fees and yearly dues. This would let organizers know the number of individuals that might be interested in traveling by road. The larger the number the lesser the individual cost.

My recommendation would be that all individuals planning to use a common transportation pay ahead of time and online with the convention fees and yearly dues. If at the end of the journey the cost is less, then reimbursement would be made at the end of the convention.

  • Including African food on the menu was another suggestion. My recommendation would be that a meal or two be omitted (Dinner preferably) replaced with an African meal. This year, we were treated by Mr. Mustapha, but in the future, we can have volunteers cook and freeze the food prior to the journey. Money for the skipped meals will be deducted from the convention fees to give volunteers who prepare the meals.
    • Also, the Saturday night time we had with Mr. Mustapha can be replicated in the student lounge on Saturday night to give old students time for more interactions and relaxation. I believe this will encourage individuals living in Indiana to want to stay on campus for the convention.
    • On a grander scale, an African style dinner can be organized for a fee.
  • Instead of transporting the t-shirt, orders should be placed online for purchase to reduce some workload on the secretary-general. I agree with this suggestion. This was the rationale behind the designing of this year’s convention products with no dates- just the CeOSA logo and website. Individuals can purchase their products online before the convention with an option to ship to their home or pick it up at the convention. This will cut down cost for those who attended the convention this year if they wish to use their T-Shirts next year.
    • However, I will recommend that a new souvenir be created for each year, for example, this year it was the Camelbak water bottle. I will caution that the item chosen to be functional.
  • The most important recommendation is for individuals to try to enlist other old Centennial students to participate in the convention and pay their dues on time.

Conclusion

The outcome of this convention has proven to be successful and as such, I would recommend that It become a guide for future CeOSA conventions. It is my hope that this report will guide potential organizers and prove useful for them. However, I must caution that it be used as a blueprint and suggest that fresh ideas be injected into future convention planning.

I commend the chairman and the board members who have contributed in various ways to keep this organization going and making the 2017 convention a success. I also commend Mr. Mustapha for the elderly role he continues to play in the organization and for hosting Principal Sengeh during his visit. He also volunteered to pick up convention participants to and from the airport. Thanks to Fatima Sesay for hosting our keynote Speaker Madam Rita Savage which enabled her to attend the Global Leadership conference which was sponsored by Huntington University after the convention.

Thanks to all the Speakers who honored our invitations, especially the keynote speaker Madam Rita Ngadie Savage and Principal Sengeh who traveled from Sierra Leone. The input of all the speakers made the convention a success. Their presentations were informational and impactful.

Special thanks to Huntington University personnel, especially Dr. Mike Wanous, Steve Pozezanac (Director of Merillat Centre for the Arts and Conference Events) and his entire staff.

I would be remiss if I did not commend Dr. Ron Baker (Ngo Ron), and Mrs. Nancy Ngele. These individuals have over the years have attended conventions and kept in touch with ex-Centennial students.

Once again thanks to the Chairman and the board for facilitating the “Return of CeOSA North America back to her Roots.” May God continue to bless us all.

Annex 1: Convention Program

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Arrival/            Registration/Reunion

Friday, August 4, 2017

7:45 AM – 8:45 AM: Breakfast
9:00 AM – 9:15 AM: Praise and Worship – Rosaline Vincent
9:15 AM – 9:20 AM: Opening Prayers – Rev. Charles Conteh 
9:20 AM – 9:25 AM:   Chairman’s Welcome Remarks – Abu-Hassan (Askia) Koroma
9:25 AM – 9:35 AM: Chief-Guest Remarks – Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, President, Huntington University.
9:35 AM – 9:45 AM: Global Ministries, UB, and C SS – Jeff Bleijerveld, Director, UB Global Ministries.           
9:45 AM – 10:20 AM:            Panel Discussion – UB Former Missionaries.
10:20 AM – 10:50 AM:          Message from Centennial Secondary School – Sulaiman Sengeh, Principal, CSS.   
10:50 AM – 11: 20 AM:          Huntington University & CSS Partnership – Dr. Michael Wanous, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, Huntington University.  
11:20 AM – 11:50 AM:          CeOSA in North America – Francis Mustapha, Founder & Rev. Joe Abu, Immediate Past President.     
11:50 AM – 12:10 PM:           Mama Hoffman Endowment Fund – Jim Hoffman  
12:10 PM – 1:00 PM: Keynote:  Rita Ngadie Savage, Chairman, Bonthe District Council                         

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: LUNCH

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM:   Discussion/Questions and Answers   
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM:   Show and Tell:  A Gem Of Video footage from Sierra Leone (1988/89) – Dr. Ron Baker   ( Ngo Ron)
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM:   AWARDS
4:30 PM – 4:35 PM:   School Song (All Three Stanzas):  Together Let Us March/onward to our goal…
4:35 PM – 4:45 PM:   Vote of Thanks/Closing Prayers  – Mrs. Comfort Macauley Kabay, Sec. Gen.
4:45 PM – 6:00 PM:   RECESS                   
6:00 PM – 7 PM:  DINNER 

7:30 PM – 9:30 PM: CLOSED SESSION   

Saturday, August 5, 2017:

7:00 AM – 4:00 PM: Gravesite Wreath laying Ceremonies in Michigan for the Bakers and Mama Hoffman
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM: DINNER
8:00 PM – 11:30 PM: Reception at the Mustapha’s Residence in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Sunday, August 6, 2017:                                          

7:00 AM – 8:00 AM: BREAKFAST
8:30 AM–: THANKSGIVING SERVICE – College Park United Brethren Church          
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: LUNCH         
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Conference closing ceremony. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We want to thank God for a successful CeOSA 2016 Convention.  To him be all the GLORY in JESUS name. AMEN!

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

HUNTINGTON UNIVERSITY

Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, President, Huntington University.

Dr. Michael K. Wanous, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, Huntington University.

Dr. Ron Baker (son of Late Dr. and Mrs. E. DeWitt Baker, Founder and First Principal of Centennial Secondary School, Mattru Jong).

CeOSA 2016 – 2019 Board of Directors:

Abu-Hassan Koroma (Askia) – Chairman
Rosetta Tarley – Vice Chairman
Comfort Macauley-Kabay – Secretary-General and Convention Coordinator
Abdul Kamara – Treasurer
Charles Conteh
Rosaline Conteh
Cautilda Spencer
Omaru Sesay
Tom Fogbawa

Thanks to All the Convention Participants.
SPECIAL THANKS TO HUNTINGTON UNIVERSITY and to Steve Pozezanac, Director, Merillat Centre for the Arts/Conferences and Events at Huntington University.

About Centennial Secondary School, Mattru Jong

Centennial Secondary School (CSS) was established in 1955 as Sierra Leone’s first experimental co-educational boarding school by American missionaries of the United Brethren in Christ Church.  The school was among one of the most prestigious secondary schools in the nation.  Centennial in the 60s, 70s, and 80s ranked among the best in national public exams especially in the area of the Sciences, thereby producing a number of engineers, scientists, professors, ambassadors, doctors, lawyers to name a few professions within Sierra Leone and the diaspora.  In addition to academic excellence, CSS was also famed for her strict institution of Christian values and integrity, thereby attracting students from around the country as well as students from neighboring countries, including Liberia and Lesotho.  The school motto in Latin reads,   “Pro Deo Et Patria” meaning “For God and Country” as the original goal and objectives were to raise patriotic and God-fearing young men and women.

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