Adinkra symbols are an artistic and cultural tradition that started in West Africa over 200 years ago, the same region that our program found its mission. Alone, each one represents an important character trait within the Akan culture. When placed together, however, they have the power to tell a story, depict the nuances of human existence, or share a personal philosophy. Using these powerful symbols as our guide, you can learn more about our unique story and our educational philosophy below.
- COMMUNITY -
The "Boa Me Na Me Mmoa Wo" Adinkra symbol represents the power of shared knowledge and the strength in community. What each one needs (circle or square) the other possesses. Together, they make a perfect whole. Likewise, Operation Wisdom views all of our partnerships in the same light. Our students need more knowledge and understanding of the world. Our partners need more resources and awareness for their cause. Together, we make a perfect whole.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that without our network of Global Partners there would be no Operation Wisdom. In a sense, they ARE the program. They not only provide invaluable knowledge and perspective, they also help to shape the vision of our clubs, host our students on our oversees trips, and provide the content for our classes. The strength of our program, therefore, rests on the strength of our global community. For this reason, our proudest achievement is the amazing community that we have helped create for our students, a community of compassionate and intelligent global leaders that are ready and willing to share their experiences and projects with our students.
"If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together."
~ African Proverb
- KNOWLEDGE -
The "Nea Onmin No Sua, Ohu" Adinkra symbol not only represents knowledge; it represents the quest for knowledge and understanding. Similarly, every student who joins Operation Wisdom, whether they travel oversees or not, begins a never ending quest for knowledge of self and an understanding of the world. Operation Wisdom, we hope, is just the first step in this life long quest.
There are dozens of international service-learning programs operating around the country. So what makes Operation Wisdom different? For starters, we take the entire notion of service-learning and turn it upside down (or is it right side up?). We believe that in order for any type of service, especially service in a cross-cultural context, to be successful, learning must precede it. That is why we refer to it as "learning-service." Operation Wisdom believes that all service begins with learning. The more our students learn, the better they will be able to serve our partners. And the more they serve our partners, the more they learn about themselves.
"Any fool can know. The point is to understand."
~ Albert Einstein
- COMPASSION -
The "Nea Ope Se Obedi Hene" symbol represents the qualities of a king (thus the name). Chief among those qualities is compassion. Likewise, our leaders of tomorrow must be marked by compassion and a strong sense of connection to all of humanity.
When studying the myriad of global issues that the world faces today, it is easy and tempting to reduce people to numbers: poverty levels, infant mortality rates, refugee numbers, and so on. While data will always be a useful tool in problem solving, Operation Wisdom students are encouraged to never lose sight of the fact that each number and each decimal point represents a human being with their own story and their own self-worth. We teach students to go beyond fundraising and problem solving and encourage them to care for the person, listen to their story, and make a connection. We want our students to build more than walls or classrooms when we go oversees; we want them to build relationships and the capacity for compassion.
"The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter."
~ Norman Cousins
- AGENCY -
The "Nyansapo" symbol conveys the idea that a wise person has the capacity to choose the best means to attain a goal. Wisdom, in this case, does not discriminate against age, race, or socioeconomic background. It can be obtained by all.
Operation Wisdom believes that for too long some of the most important people in the problem solving process have been kept on the sideline when it comes to discussing and addressing today's most pressing global issues. We're talking about the poor, the women, the students, the disabled, the citizens of the developing world. These are the people that Operation Wisdom represents. We want to listen to them, learn from them, and give them a microphone and an opportunity to show the world that they have the knowledge, the understanding, the patience, and the wisdom to bring real and lasting change into the world.
“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace."
~ Kofi Annan
~ Kofi Annan
- WISDOM -
The Adinkra symbol known as "Ananse Ntontan," or Spider's Web, comes from the famous West African fable of Ananse the Spider. In the stories, Ananse was not only known for her wisdom and creativity, she was also known as the "messenger," weaving a communication web among all of creation. For these characteristics - wisdom, creativity, and global networking - Operation Wisdom has adopted this symbol as our logo.
Not only does this symbol embody our educational aim (i.e. wisdom), it also pays homage to the birthplace of our program - West Africa. To learn more about how Operation Wisdom was inspired by "a tiny school in a small village in an unknown country in a troubled land," check out Our History page.
"For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it."
~ Proverbs 8:11
- OUR PHILOSOPHY IN ACTION -
Community, Knowledge, Compassion, Agency, and Wisdom -- See our Philosophy of learning and life in action during our 2016 trip to Ghana.