This is a guest post from the 2017 U.S. State Department WiSci Girls STEAM Camp which took place in Malawi, Africa.
By: Necta Mwitory, 17, Jangwani Secondary School, Tanzania
Believe it or not, when I was chosen for the 2017 WiSci Girls STEAM Camp in Malawi I was not excited. This is the first year that the camp was held in Malawi and people told me that Malawi was not beautiful, neither adventurous. So, I was packing lazily and ended up getting to the hotel late.
Surprisingly, when it was time to board my flight to Lilongwe, I started getting excited because it was my first time getting on a plane. The plane ride fell short and it was a bit noisy. I thought I could read a novel but I couldn’t because my excitement took over me. We left the airport around 9:00 am that day and we reached the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) at 11:00 pm.
By the time I reached campus, I already made a new friend from Malawi. Making new friends would prove to make my experiences at WiSci Camp fun and memorable. The university that we are staying was amazing. I kept on telling my friends that it looked the pictures I had seen of universities in the U.K. On that same day, we were introduced to new friends and counselors and other staff members from Girl Up and World Learning.
The next day, the real learning began. When our lessons started, I used to sit at the back and did not ask questions. I would just take notes and talk to my friends but soon that all changed. During one of the sessions in the auditorium, as campers, we were challenged by one of the speakers to question everything and connect with others as much as possible. The scary part that motivated me to start being active and connect with my other fellow campers was when the speaker said the days that you will spend here at WiSci Camp will go fast that you will not even believe it is time to go back home. From that session, I participated actively in cohort classes and Girl Up sessions.
The next few days we introduced to the Google and NASA teams. I was really invested and excited to meet them in class. We divided in groups so we could learn as a larger group and meet other campers from other cohorts. When it was time to meet with the Google team, I sat in the front row. The team was full of excitement and was so friendly so I felt comfortable during the lessons. The lessons that we were taught is how to make mobile applications and the application of Arduino 101 in computer science. I really enjoyed the lessons with Google and was sad that they went by too fast. I started to notice that time was going by fast.
In the same week, our group was introduced to NASA. I felt so lucky and intelligent at the same time. I was able to understand the lessons. Miss Emilia broke each part that was hard or not easily understandable to simple formulation.
Every night at camp, we had culture night where each country in the camp needs to present their culture in any way possible. I was the emcee for Tanzania Culture night and helped organize a fashion show, dance performances and skits.
Our group was also introduced to the American Society of Microbiology (ASM). I love biology so I was really excited for this lesson. I really enjoyed cutting the micro-organisms from plants like fungus, bacteria. I learned how to make a simple microscope with the help of my smart phone camera. This reminded me of the days when I was in primary school and used to draw the parts of insects and flowers. I only saw micro-images of such organisms in books so I was excited to build my microscope and see it with my own eyes. The good thing is that they gave us the tools to make the microscope to take back home. Now I can’t wait to show that to my teachers and classmates in Tanzania.
In the first week, we took an excursion to Mount Mulanje. We hiked the mountain and that is where I saw the beauty of Malawi and how friendly people are. I was learning there is beauty in all of Malawi.
WiSci camp keeps on surprising me every day that I wish the days will go slower. I want to learn more while at camp because it’s a friendly environment. For now, I love my experience at camp and can’t wait to continue learning.