This is a guest post from the 2017 U.S. State Department WiSci Girls STEAM Camp which took place in Malawi, Africa.
By Tapiwa Liwimbi, 16, Lilongwe, Kamuzu Academy
My name is Tapiwa Liwimbi and I am from Malawi. Being selected to the 2017 WiSci Girls STEAM Camp has been pretty fantastic. Upon arriving to the camp I have experienced many amazing things, for example meeting 99 new friends, having the opportunity to meet and learn from reputable people in the STEAM fields and learning how to blog from Girl Up.
My favorite part of the WiSci experience is the cohort time. This has easily become the program I look forward to because it is an opportunity to see the world from different points of views and still be able to relate to most of them. Hearing from girls who come from all over and listening to their experiences has made me personally gain a brand new perspective on how I view life because it has shown me that my country is not the only country facing gender equality problems and this is an issue because this means the problem is present but too many people refuse to acknowledge that.
Being a part of the WiSci camp has inspired me to be much more than I ever planned to be. Basically, I have learned that there are many girls who limit themselves simply because they are told that they need to be “realistic” as if being the President of their county is too “far-fetched”. What this teaches girls is that they should forever produce half-baked results and should never strive to be whatever they want to be. This camp has taught many of us girls to own ourselves and to view ourselves positively and not in the way that other people tell us to be and I think that is where our power comes from.
It’s no surprise that my favorite class so far has been a lesson on Gender Based Violence. This is important to me because as I was learning the definition of gender, why violence arises, etc. I realized that the fact that men and women are expected to have certain characteristics, attitudes and behaviors is a problem. Gender stereotypes is a real issue in our communities and may stop girls like me from pursuing careers in STEAM. I know I have more to learn but for now, at least I’m assured that this is something I want to help solve in my school, home and community.