Speaking Up – Loud & Clear
Karibu! Welcome to Year 1 Presentations!
Year 1 Presentations, or Y1P as they are also known, are a fundamental part of the Kisa Project’s Curriculum. Each Kisa Scholar, in her first year of the program, utilizes the concepts and skills she has learned over the course of the year to study an issue in her community and propose a potential solution. She then creates a ten-minute presentation and delivers it in front of her peers and a panel of judges. This work goes on to form the basis for the Scholars’ 2 Day Challenge projects the following year.
Let us take you into the world of Y1P as seen through the eyes of three of our Arusha-based Mentors – Einoth Justine, Eliakunda Kaaya, and Chonge Tukwa. Their Kisa Scholars from these schools took the Y1P stage in March, 2019: Mringa Secondary School, Arusha Secondary School, Arusha Girls’ School, Mlangarini Secondary School, and Mwandet High School.
Einoth: “We Will do Wonders”
It is an exciting, but also nervous, time for the students when preparing for their Year 1 Presentations. You can just see the excitement bursting from within the girls! Everyone tries to imagine how the day will be and the girls ask many questions before the event. Some are curious, wanting to what the judges are like and whether they will ask hard questions.
“Are they like you, Madam?”
“Will I be able to present in front of new faces?”
Some are really confident, saying “Madam, my presentation will be the best!”
One of my Scholars, Irene from Mringa Secondary School, handed me a note one day as I was leaving class where we practiced the presentations. She had written: “Madam, you should not worry about us. We will do wonders, we will surprise you. We will do the best on our presentations.”
This felt so good to read. It showed me how confident my Scholars are and how hard they are working to get to where they want to go.
Mary, a Scholar from another school in the Arusha Region came to me often before the day of the presentations. She claimed she was afraid and did not think she could give her speech. I kept encouraging her, telling her that she could do it and that nothing would stop her from completing her presentation. I told her: “You can do anything you set yourself to do, and you can do it even better than you thought possible!”
Mary kept practicing and on Y1P day, before entering the room, she came to me and said, “Madam, do you think I can do it?” I replied “Why not? YES YOU CAN, Mary!” She then held my hand to her chest. Her heart was beating so fast! I told her, “You have to relax Mary. Take a deep breath. The presentation is yours, you own it, you have all the answers to any question they might ask because you are presenting what is your own.”
Mary entered the room, gave her presentation, and to her great surprise, she was awarded first place! After Mary received her prize, she came and said beside me and said, “Madam, Kumbe, I can do wonders, eeh…” Kumbe is a Swahili exclamation word that people use to express something exciting. This really was a surprise to Mary, but also to me and her fellow Scholars. It makes me believe anyone can achieve anything they set their mind to and that each of my Scholars has potential!
Ellie: A Platform for the Community to Learn about AfricAid
When it comes to Year 1 Presentations, all I want to see is the best effort from my Scholars. Some of them become very nervous because it is their first time speaking in public. In the lead up to Y1P, I showed my Scholars a video about overcoming the fear of public speaking. The video was very helpful and allowed the girls to focus on practicing their speeches.
One of my favorite parts of Y1P is hearing how the girls support and cheer for one another. It is also satisfying to receive feedback from the outside judges, who really seem to enjoy this experience. One of them, Nayamani, said, “I think that if all girls could speak confidently like these girls do, not only speaking about their future careers, but also what they desire to see in their communities, then this world already have a group of powerful young leaders and changemakers.”
Year 1 Presentations don’t just mark the conclusion of Year One of the program. They are also a platform for the invited judges to understand AfricAid’s transformative work and be a part of it. Another judge said, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to come and learn about what AfricAid does through the Kisa Project. I think that is important to prepare girls to be leaders in their communities.”
This forum also provides an opportunity for students to display their talents. Some Scholars take the chance to show their acting skills, some sing, and others read a poem that reflects leadership and the advantages of being part of Kisa. Allowing Scholars to showcase their creativity further increases their confidence and self-esteem, and makes for a very enjoyable day!
Chonge: Bringing Back Memories
Year 1 Presentations were a wonderful experience for everyone – the Scholars, the Mentors and the judges who participated in the events. Scholars discussed the challenges facing their own communities and provided win-win solutions, which demonstrated their skills as leaders.
For Mentors, it was a fulfilling experience, especially for those of us who went through the Kisa program back in the day. We reflected on our own experience as Kisa Scholars and compared the presentations to the ones we gave back then. Not surprisingly, the speeches get better every year!
Apart from reminiscing, we were also able to see how the girls we mentor have been transformed from who they were to who they have become, particularly in areas like confidence and public speaking. You would expect the Scholars to be nervous, but let me tell you, we Mentors are nervous too! We want to see the best from our Scholars.
During classes, we often have Scholars who are struggling in various ways, but as Mentors it is our job to keep them motivated and make them believe they can do anything. Ellie told me, “I was so happy and excited to see one of my Scholars announced as one of the winners in her room. She had been struggling and always asked for my help to improve her confidence. I worked with her, giving her extra time after class, and in the end, she showed that she could shine through her Y1P.”
For Mentors experiencing their first round of Year 1 Presentations, it was something fresh and unique. The Kisa Project started at Einoth’s school the year after she graduated, so she did not experience it as a Scholar. As a Mentor, she observed, “It was awesome listening to the Scholars preparing to share so many great ideas in their presentations. These young ladies have the passion to be leaders and community changers.”
Our Kisa Scholars are “being the change they want to see” through Year 1 Presentations and their Kisa Mentors could not be more encouraged or proud.