Meet Amina! Amina is a Student Ambassador from Kenya, who participated in Technovation in 2015 and helped strengthen the program in Kenya this year. Amina did not have trouble recruiting girls, noting that Technovation has been running in Kenya for about 6 years now, and that coaches and mentors have created interest in the local community and have engaged schools, which makes the task of recruiting teams much easier. In fact, the Mombasa chapter grew from 10 teams last year to 16 teams this year!
Amina worked closely with 3 of those teams, recruiting and supporting 15 girls during the season. While recruiting girls was fairly straightforward due to the existing local Technovation community, the realities of working through an online curriculum on a different school-year calendar proved to be challenging. Kenya’s school year is different from the US school year, starting in January and running through October, which made the January start of Technovation difficult to navigate. Additionally, Amina and her students struggled with their limited access to internet and laptop computers. This tied into another challenge, which is that many people who do have laptops and internet access in the area are mostly college students who tend to over-schedule themselves and committed to mentoring for Technovation but dropped out mid-way through the season. Amina and the mentors and coaches who did remain stepped up to support all of the girls through the season, but the loss of mentors did put additional strain on them.
Amina and her chapter also faced some cultural barriers, including parents who weren’t comfortable with having their daughters in school on the weekends, and the school allowing only 2 hours of time a week to work on the their Technovation projects. Amina worked to schedule time on the weekends for those girls whose parents were comfortable with them returning to school then, and while many teams only had half of their members available, Amina supported the girls and provided structure for their work time. Despite all of these challenges, Amina loved being a Student Ambassador and becoming a teach and mentor for so many girls. (more…)