Going with the Flo
I was still in college when I met Florence, a recent Stanford graduate, who was participating in the Teach for America program. She invited me to speak to her middle school class about photography. Florence always had a soft side for the media arts from behind the scenes to in front of the camera. In 2013 while working as a strategic consultant for educational institutions, she starred in the title role in the short film Routine. Today, she runs a transmedia company from Accra, Ghana. Leap is engaged in challenging local educational methods through the innovative incorporation of transmedia assets in everyday learning.
For the past three years, she has been splitting her time between her homes in Brooklyn and Accra. When asked about her time-sharing arrangement, she explains, “I am a child of immigrants so I feel at home both in the United States and in Ghana. I feel fortunate that I can claim both experiences as part of my identity. I appreciate the opportunities that being an American has provided me. At the same time, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to take the advantages that I have gained by living and working in the US —applying my skills in meaningful ways where they are most needed.”
Gaining what she refers to as an inspired life, Florence feels every new experience is a chance to expand her story. In 2012, she founded gbekembe a line of dress that grows girls from ages 2-7. Made of kente cloth and wax print inspired prints, Florence operates entrepreneurship workshops for the local women who produce the dresses. She co-founded a program, Flirt with the World, to increase female condom usage while opening up conversations about safer sexual behavior. A champion for women’s health, she also assisted the Kenyan based WonderCup in bringing affordable menstrual cups to local girls. Currently working on a film project about mining in West Africa and a USAID-funded local language numeracy education program, her globalcreations allow her to contribute to the universal narrative through first-person insights into the ways lives are lived in other lands. “Internationality has allowed me to better understand the wonderful variety and the unfortunate limitations—too often defined as culture—that are pervasive in similar communities across the globe, ” she states.
Having visited well over twenty-five countries, Florence recalls one night when she was partying at a bar in Bali and spotted a Stanford t-shirt on a white male in the crowd. “We somehow flowed near each other and I greeted him by introducing myself as a fellow alum. His response, ‘Why are you all the way out here?’ I looked at him in surprise and annoyance. How could someone who went to my school ask such a question of a fellow alum? Even world travelers can be ignorant to the sight of global citizenship.” As she says this her serene smile returns, and she encourages would-be global citizens to, “Go! Use your network to help open doors. Get comfortable with yourself so that you can be comfortable with the many others that walk the lands.”
Still going with the flow, she is on her way from Ghana to a yoga retreat in Goa.