Oct 17, 2019

MY FIRST WEEK AT AFRICAN SCIENCE ACADEMY

Cecilia, pictured far right
Cecilia, pictured far right

In August, Cecilia began her tertiary journey by departing from Lusaka to study one year of A-levels at African Science Academy (ASA) in Accra, Ghana. ASA is Africa’s leading science and math academy for girls.

When I first got to ASA (and after being sure that traveling alone is not half as hard as I thought it would be) I specified a handful of expectations: leave with a scholarship, get good grades in my A-Levels, and create worthwhile networks. While those expectations have not changed, I have realized that there is more I can get from ASA than what I had thought I had to have.

The first thing I experienced during my first week is culture shock. There is the fact that I am in an environment where there are girls only and, although I have experienced this scenario a couple of times before, it feels like the first and most prominent one because I am with the ladies every day and night. The other amusing thing is that this is a science-oriented place. I can literally feel myself think, taste, and see in numerical values! It is all about physics, math and even SAT practice and class.

Then came the realization that I am about 1,954.80 km from Lusaka and this made me miss home every time I got the chance and then the difference in the meals made this worse. Ghanaian food is heavily seasoned; they have hot pepper in all their much-appreciated diverse cuisines, except of course breakfast and a few other dishes!

However, ASA is a place of voicing out one’s opinions, claiming your dreams and working hard with no rest, and so I have started adjusting. We have about six countries: Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Zambia, making ASA a vibrant community with diverse backgrounds. We had the founder of the program, Mr. Tom Ilube, who is not only an academician and physicist (and who recently earned the initials C.B.E. preceding his name, which was granted to him by one of the royals of England). He is also an enthusiast of science and girls’ development. For a week he graced us with presentations on Artificial Intelligence, the importance of telling our stories, and general expectations of ASA and the world at large, on us as STEM girls.

We had the opening ceremony and we were introduced and welcomed as the fourth cohort. Learning started on Tuesday and I have never been in a class with such gifted people! Everyone is special in a kind of coherent way. I am learning with prospective aeronautic and petroleum engineers, biochemists, pilots and data analysts just to mention a few. This place is encouraging and very motivating.

I share a tutor with four other students and she helps us make goals for each day and will assist us in University application and research. I also share a room with six other amazing girls of which only two of us are not Ghanaian. The other girl is from Togo. I am also provided with a laptop and textbooks for my research and school work.

During the week we voted for club representatives and I was elected as the Media representative, in charge of updating the school’s website and taking care of everything to do with media. I did not want to take a responsibility that requires me to do too much because I want to have enough time to study. I feel that Media will broaden my computer skills and also boost my hobby in photography as I will be taking pictures for the Academy as well.

So far, my stay here has been one of self-reflection and community-support growth. The girls are eager to help, ready to learn and always supportive. There have also been some alumni coming to talk and encourage us and more will be coming, including Universities and organizations. There is no room for laziness or unexplained chit-chats; it is always business here. I therefore, find ASA as an eye-opening community and I am so thrilled for the journey ahead. I am eager to grow from all the experiences I will have.

Cecilia, pictured far left
Cecilia, pictured far left
Cecilia, pictured in middle
Cecilia, pictured in middle

Links:

Jul 24, 2019

On Pursuing Agricultural as a Study Field

The year came to an end and I had just completed secondary school. The question of every school-leaver rang! “What next?”

With the help of KF, I was offered an internship at BookWorld and was later given a job as a cashier. This was a massive change, because with each passing day, I became a new person. The different types of people I worked with pushed me into changing my thinking and how I view things. From them, I learnt that you can’t make people think like you, but you can put everyone’s thoughts together and reach your goals as a team.

Meeting different customers with different personalities meant I always had to change my approach towards each and every person that walked into the shop. During this time, I met people like Pompi (the gospel artist), Former Bank of Zambia Governor, Mr. Fundanga, Honorable Peter N. Mangande, and the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

Meeting the President was very exciting, and I couldn’t believe that I was seeing him in front of me. One thing I learnt from him was the culture of reading. He said, “The problem we have in Zambia is that people don’t read.” He bought all the Zambian writers’ books. This is what he always does when he passes by.

After a long one year and two months of working, it is now time to go back to school and pursue my career. Being accepted into National Resources Development College (NRDC) to study Agricultural Engineering is one of the biggest achievements for any person interested in agriculture.

People ask me questions like, “Why agriculture?” My answer is simple: “Agriculture is the future.” Sometimes we don’t need to give long answers for us to be heard. All of this was made possible by KF. Thank you.

May 13, 2019

Chibombo Tuitions

I still can’t believe the tuitions were only a month, because I feel as if I learned more than I could in a year. I, like any other person who went there, had goals that I wished to acquire at the end of everything. I would proudly testify that Chibombo has impacted this stage of my life.

Chibombo made me realize that the main reason we went there was not just to learn how to apply my knowledge but to discover who I really am: my capabilities, weaknesses and strengths. Chibombo made me realize that I could do more than KF, my family, Chalo, and mostly myself expected. Despite having heard multiple discouragements about Chibombo being a village, I decided to go with a positive mind and attitude, because I was so eager to learn.

I met many different kinds of people there, people with different characters, different beliefs, but I tried to humble myself to zero and learn. In the first place, I thought I wouldn’t manage being the only girl there, but that wasn’t the case. I managed to create a bond with this new family.

I am proud to say that I did a lot of community service, because most days I volunteered to prepare meals and help with chores. This really impacted me and made me into a responsible person so I wouldn’t embarrass KF in any way.

It was fascinating to see how we managed to finish different syllabi or different subjects with clear understandings. We really did a lot, including past papers and the like. We also learned life skills, and we did community service by teaching children in the village who couldn’t speak any language other than their native tongue. In this project, I would want to applaud all the KF students for their participation, determination and commitment.

I would write a novel if I was told to write everything that happened there. Before I finish, I would definitely want to thank Mama Nkowane for the decision of us going there. I also would want to thank the KF staff, Vincent, Justin, and everyone who believes in me, especially throughout the holidays. Chibombo was productive.

 
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