September 2019 - They Did It! Tumaini Students Travel Abroad for the First Time
Brighter Anderson and Christine Francis are the first Tumaini students to be accepted into international summer school programs. TEC is deeply grateful to UWC ISA, Japan and Yale Young African Scholars, Kenya for providing our pupils with this life-changing experience.
On July 19, Brighter boarded a plane for the first time in his life. He was on his way to Nagano, Japan, where he would be conducting a two-week program focusing on leadership, design-thinking, culture and identity. The application process had been a long one, beginning seven months prior. His ecstatic family escorted him to the airport. When asked how she was feeling about her big brother traveling to Japan, Brighter’s little sister replied ‘Hot!’.
Out of the eighty students selected worldwide to participate in the UWC ISAK program, only two members of the cohort came from Africa. Brighter used this opportunity to represent Tanzania by sharing as much as he could about his culture and traditions. Brighter quickly made a large group of friends from China, Singapore and India. He fondly remembers how much they enjoyed eating spicy food together! The experience has resulted in many new friends and changed perspectives.
Brighter has the chance to develop his presentation and group-work skills through designated workshops. His team designed a project focusing on sustainability, debated the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and held daily focus group sessions to reflect upon, and share, the day’s experiences with their fellow participants.
The UWC ISAK summer program has been designed to educate young change-makers. Participants were given workshops in: Culture, Identity, Diversity (CID), Design Thinking (DT) and Mindful Leadership by Design (MLBD).
The CID course required students to deliver presentations about their country and culture. Brighter was initially apprehensive that he might face discrimination. However, this wasn’t the case at all. His classmates were deeply interested in learning about Tanzania’s tribes, gender politics and food. Brighter was pleased to be able to dispel some misconceptions surrounding these topics; and felt that the experience had resulted in some really productive dialogue.
The Mindful Leadership by Design workshop challenged participants to work in teams to develop a social project of their choosing. Brighter’s team elected to focus on the topic of sustainability; specifically, deforestation and recycling. The group delivered a presentation highlighting the issues of illegal logging in developing nations. Brighter wanted to raise awareness of this exploitative trade, and the long-term impacts resulting from Tanzania’s depleted natural resources. The advisory mentors were particularly impressed with the group’s recycling initiative. Brighter’s team wrote a ‘choose your own adventure’ story, where readers could follow the life span of a plastic bag.
One experience that particularly stood out for Brighter was attending a traditional summer dragon festival. He excitedly recounted seeing dancers dressed in blue robes weaving dragon figures through the crowd. The event finished with a firework display that was unlike anything he had ever seen before, although the very best part was trying French fries!
Participating in the UWC ISAK summer program has shifted Brighter’s perception of the world. In addition to honing practical skills, such as public speaking, Brighter was able to form long-lasting and impactful relationships with his fellow participants. He had the opportunity to share ideas and familiarise himself with a multitude of backgrounds and cultures. Brighter said that he never imagined that people from all over the world could come together and work cooperatively. Witnessing this first-hand has changed his life forever.
Of the five thousand applications received, only three hundred students were selected to attend the Yale Young African Scholars Program, 2019. Christine Francis, a Tumaini Senior Form Three student, was amongst them.
On the 6th of August Christine traveled to Thika, Kenya. The Yale Young African Scholars program was to be her first experience of university style seminars. In addition, Christine would receive dedicated college counseling. She was made aware of a multitude of scholarships available for students wishing to pursue further education, and now feels much more optimistic about her academic future.
There were two seminars in particular that left an impression on Christine. The first focused on humanitarian aid, covering the functions and limitations of the United Nations. The seminar instructor designed a fake country that the students were responsible for managing. As the exercise progressed, the teacher would feed-in inputs such as droughts or disease outbreaks. The participants had to collaborate in order to strategize as to how best to respond to these issues, and protect their imaginary population from these threats. This project high lighted for Christine the multitude of challenges faced by governments and international organizations, and how these can hinder development. She realized that often, solving one problem can lead to a new one.
The second seminar that Christine took part in examined lesser known African revolutionaries. Each participant was required to research and present about five notable figures from their country of origin. This was a wonderful opportunity for Christine to familiarize herself with a history that she was previously unaware of. She was pleased to gain a deeper understanding about the individuals who had contributed to Tanzania’s struggle for independence; and was fascinated by the similarities of this national experience through-out the continent. Christine said that the course has inspired her, as it has demonstrated that one person has the potential to enact large scale change. The lesson that she has taken from this seminar is that when you do something good, you inspire others to do something even better.
When asked to speak about her favorite aspects of the YYAS program, Christine said that it had been incredibly helpful to speak to her instructors about university preparations. This experience was the first time that she had been able to meet and share ideas with such a variety of people from different backgrounds and places. Having the chance to live and work together cooperatively during the program really gave her a sense of Africa, ‘because Africa is one’.
The YYAS program hosted students from all over Africa. This has exposed the participants to a valuable cross-continental network that they otherwise would not have had access to. Christine is delighted to have made so many new friends. She expressed that she particularly benefited from learning more about the historical backgrounds of her peers’ countries of origin. For example, she is now able to better contextualize Tanzania’s independence struggle within the wider African experience; and felt a deep connection to her fellow course-mates as a result.
Brighter and Christine have shown their classmates at Tumaini Senior that hard work and dedication really does help you to achieve your dreams. The experiences and learning that they have gained from the summer programs has been presented to the student body. In this way, the workshops have benefited all of our high-school pupils. The students at TSSS now have a tangible objective to aspire towards. Despite the very strong work ethic already practiced at the school, the students approach their studies with a renewed motivation, having seen the potential rewards for their labors.
The application process for next year’s intake will begin next month.