Warren County Community College (WCCC) Business Administration major Elisabeth Touaboy is not your typical college student. Originally from the Central African Republic, Touaboy has developed and been pursuing her own non-profit organization designed to benefit her homeland.
Touaboy (in photo, on far right) became even more determined after she recently represented WCCC at the New Leadership Conference at the Center of American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The New Leadership Conference is a bipartisan residential program hosted at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics to educate college women about the political process and help them realize their ability to become effective community leaders.
“This was such a great opportunity for me,” Touaboy said. “I met so many great people. It was a very inspirational experience.”
Here she was introduced to a wide variety of prominent female political figures in addition to other guest speakers who developed their own non-profit organizations who all encouraged her to pursue her goal of developing a non-profit organization.
Touaboy noted, “If there is one piece of advice I learned at New Leadership that will always stay with me is: If you do not have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.”
Touaboy was accompanied by nearly 30 other college students from all different institutes. Regardless of ethnicity, religion and political stance, everyone at the conference had the opportunity to voice their political views on a variety of serious social issues going on today.
Upon graduation from WCCC this fall, Touaboy says she plans to travel back home to the Central African Republic to apply the skills and knowledge she learned at the New Leadership Conference in her pursuit to building a portfolio for her non-profit organization that will hopefully self-sustain her home country.
She noted that “I’ve been frustrated for a long time with how Western media portrays a one sided story of Africa as a whole; forgetting that Africa is a continent with different standards of livings, languages, etc. The main problem with this is that many people in the West begin to see themselves as saviors for Africa; when in fact the money that African diaspora sends home to family surpasses the total sum that western organizations send in aid. And so people buy into this, and Africans buy into it as well.
“With the current situation in my home country, the Central African Republic, the population waited for help from the French and United Nations. They came and made things worse. Now, the population feels a sense of hopelessness. As a result, people become greedy and the population is divided overall. My organization, which I have not named yet, will be made to show Africans and foreigners alike that we can and we HAVE helped ourselves out of difficult situations without the help of the West. I plan on doing this by limiting benefactors to only Africans. Foreigners are welcome to volunteer but ONLY Africans can provide monetary support. If I succeed, then it will be a testimony to Africans that with unity and understanding all things are possible.”
In time, Touaboy wants to enlarge this idea to include other countries.
“I’ve learned in my business class that expanding too quickly can be bad,” she said. “Therefore I plan on focusing on my country and later on branching out to other countries.”