7/7/2017: EP St Michel

Over the past few days, we have been sharing with you about the design and preparation of our workshops as well as the integration of our three teams.

Well, preparation peaked today as our morning was spent doing trial runs of our workshops in batches. In the midst of triumphs and troubles, laughter and chuckles, we managed to put final touches and elements on the workshop presentations while ensuring different aspects were timed and clearly delivered.

Meanwhile, Ellen was off visiting the manager of Bridges to Prosperity in Rwanda, an NGO which enable communities to build footbridges to enhance the trade within their areas (https://www.bridgestoprosperity.org). They are keen to take on interns within their organisation and to establish partnerships within the University of Rwanda, so we have planned to pay a few visits to their bridges (both finished ones and those under construction) in addition to having an information session with UR students.

After lunch, we visited our first school, GS EPA/St Michel. There, we learnt that St Michel is one of the schools in Kigali that largely accepts students who failed the Primary 6 exams. Starting out with such a school definitely gives a strong sense of purpose to us.

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Although we had a few challenges in having only a short time with the students and a very small classroom to work in, we presented across 4 workshop stations to over 70 students. We covered biomedical engineering (light in diagnostics), and explored mechanical engineering (cooling), mining engineering and civil engineering (bridges).

Our Rwandan high school team members took the lead along with us and UR students in delivering workshops in a mix of Ikinyarwanda and English language. It was exciting watching them own fields of studies and activities some of them have only come to know in just about a week or so.

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We also managed to reach out to some students we couldn’t fit into the classroom where the workshops were being delivered. We had career chats and interesting conversations with them and although it was the end of the day, the students were very keen about still trying to get in.

On observations, a chat with a S1 student called Joel who wants to be a pilot but has not been doing well in mathematics revealed that travelling a long distance to school, limited access to library resources coupled with the absence of internet infrastructure might be crippling his dreams. We also observed that lots of students only want to study medicine and we think this might be because there is a lack of knowledge about diverse career options. Trust us to get a few converts by the end of the day.

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All in all, it was a great start to our school visits. Our teams worked quite nicely together, quick on their feet to improvise where necessary and to bridge language barriers where present. We are excited about our visit to St Andre tomorrow and will let you know how that goes.

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