What was your biggest worry? What were you doing for the society?
At 15, a lot of us are in secondary school, or high school, if you may. For me, my biggest worry was getting good grades and fitting in among my peers.
Unlike me, young people today aren’t just getting good grades. They are coming up with projects that will benefit their societies. They are, in essence, doing things that most of us start doing in university/college and mostly as part of our final year projects. These students are shouldering thoughts that people much older than them are. They are giving back to the society.
I met 3 such young people; Ciku Kanyi, a 14-year old; Yasmin Mohammed, a 16-year old; and Alexandrea Kamotho, a 14-year old; all students at the Aga Khan Academy. These 3 give us a peek at what it is to be doing projects to benefit their societies by answering a set of interview questions.
Tell me about your project
Ciku: For my project, I am creating a website which will educate people on the different mental disorders. It will also be a website where people will be able to share the struggles that they have had with mental health (anonymously or they can share their information), all to be viewed by the public.
Yasmin: For my project, I am creating awareness on albinism in Kenya as well as raising and donating money to an albinism charity in Kenya. I plan on creating awareness by sharing content about this particular topic on my social media platforms, educating friends and family about the issue and etc. As I am creating awareness on the issue, I am also educating people on how they can help, eg by donating clothes, food, blankets or money.
If you would like, please visit this page and donate. Tell the people around you about it too! Anything you can provide is enough. http://www.drchokseyfoundation.org/
Alexandrea: My personal project goal is to educate the children on the importance of the environment and how damage can affect their future. My focus is on 10-13 year-olds.
What inspired you to do this particular project?
Ciku: I was inspired to work on this project because mental health is something that is not talked about and is stigmatized, especially here in Africa, through this project I want to educate people about it and possibly reduce the stigma around the topic
Yasmin: The person who introduced me to this charity was actually the optician that I have been visiting for a couple of years. She runs the charity. I wanted my project to be able to help other people in need. I have terrible eyesight and can’t even imagine not having my glasses on. Unlike me who has the resources to get new glasses and prescriptions, these kids can’t afford them. We all know that albinism is a condition affecting the skin but what most people don’t know is that albinism greatly affects someone’s eyes as well. Most people suffering from albinism are legally blind. This can make it extremely difficult for them to understand things in school. The charity provides free glasses which makes living with albinism a lot easier. I also want to dismiss the nasty traditional superstitions surrounding people with albinism in Africa.
Alexandrea: I was inspired by my love for the environment. And through my years of living, I have realized that children are not aware of the importance of trees for our animals and the whole world.
What would you say you have learned or gained from this project?
Ciku: I have learned that it’s very important to manage your time well, with a project like this. We are given a reasonable amount of time which seems as a lot but it flies so quickly.
Through the project, I also feel that I have improved my research and communication skills as I can consult both primary and secondary sources and show their relevance to my project.
Yasmin: I have greatly improved on several levels. First, I’ve learned how to carry out my work independently. My research capabilities have also improved immensely.
Additionally, my planning and organization skills have benefitted as a result of planning dates and giving myself deadlines .Moreover, my communication and collaboration skills have improved as well.
Alexandrea: I have gained an understanding of the importance of different tree species and most importantly how the education system is failing to give in-depth education on the environment. I have also researched on the seed ball website and the Kenya forestry service.
What sources do you get these projects from?
Ciku: We use both primary and secondary sources. A primary source is immediate, first-hand accounts of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it. Primary sources can include texts of laws and other original documents, newspaper reports by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did. They are created by someone who did not experience first-hand or participate in the events or conditions you’re researching. For a historical research project, secondary sources are generally scholarly books and articles. A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources
Yasmin: While doing this project you need to include both primary and secondary sources, they can be in any form you want. It is recommended that the sources are up to date and reliable. For my project specifically, I got most of the sources online. I read articles and watched ted talks and documentaries. I also created a survey to measure how well the people in my community are educated on albinism.
Here are some sources I used for my project:
• You are a beautiful song by Christina Aguilera- https://youtu.be/eAfyFTzZDMM
• Congolese artist artwork – https://observers.france24.com/en/20170605-meet-congolese-artist-making-portraits-albinosfight-discrimination
• Living positively with albinism in Kenya; graces story- https://www.aid-expo.com/blog/148-living-positively-with-albinism-in-kenya-grace-s-story
• Women and children with albinism in Uganda –https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/women-with-albinism-struggle-for-acceptance/4820656.html
• Born too white – https://youtu.be/Bbc7O4UJX-o
• story booth story – https://youtu.be/mhM0QGva0gc
• Types of albinism – https://www.verywellhealth.com/types-of-albinism-symptoms-and-diagnosis-2860867
• Fashion model Diandra- https://youtu.be/qqcfWT0jM0Q
• Myths of misconceptions – https://thisisafrica.me/african-identities/myths-on-albinism/
Alexandrea: For this project, we are allowed to work using both primary and secondary resources. I have researched on the seed ball website and the Kenya forestry service. I am also intending to talk to the people in the company to help me create the seed ball; interview them to see how they can advise me. And because they deal with the environment they can give me information about their project.
How do you, a young person, benefit from these projects that other people your age normally does?
Ciku: I have gained new skills as I have been doing the project such as communication skills and creative thinking. I have done this by making decisions, developing understanding and solving problems, communicating with my supervisor and others, and creating a product and evaluating it.
Yasmin: The personal project is very beneficial in the sense that it helps the community in one way or another. It teaches us the value of assisting others. Apart from that, it also helps us develop and master various skills such as our social skills and organization skills which will help us thrive as adults.
Alexandrea: From this project, I have gained an understanding of the importance of different tree species and most importantly, the education system failing to teach kids in-depth about the environment.
Tell me about the process of working on this project?
We do the project in four stages
Stage 1– this is criterion A which is investigating. In this stage of the project we develop a goal and global context based on my interests, we then identify prior learning and subject-specific knowledge related to the project. In this stage, we also demonstrate our research skills by providing sources that we will use relevant to the project.
Stage 2– This is planning. In this stage, we develop criteria and specifications for our product/outcome and demonstrate self-management skills.
Stage 3– This is criterion C which is taking action. This is where we create our intended product/outcome in response to the goal, global context, and criteria. This is also where we will be given a chance to demonstrate out thinking, communication, and social skills.
Stage 4– This stage is known as reflecting. In this stage, we evaluate the quality of our product/outcome against our given criteria/specification. We also reflect on how completing the project has extended our knowledge and learning and understanding of the topic and global context, we then reflect on our development as an IB learner through the course of the project
Apart from all this, we keep what is called a process journal which is like a diary/journal where we record the process of working on the project and also our thoughts and feelings throughout the project, so anytime we make a change to our project or have new ideas we put that in the process journal We also have project supervisors who guide us through our project.
Yasmin: I’ve really enjoyed working on this project. Researching in criterion A had to be the best part. The stories I heard about albinism from people suffering from it were very interesting and made me a lot more knowledgeable. Making the survey and designing flyers were also very fun activities to do. As of right now, I’m focusing on encouraging more people to donate so I can reach my intended goal.
Alexandrea: This project has mainly involved doing a lot of research, as I mentioned the seed ball website and Kenya Forestry service. It will also involve interviews. I have generally liked working on it, especially because of my love for the environment.
Were there ups and downs while working on this project?
Ciku: Some of the ups of the project are that I feel like I’m going to make an impact on the community with the products or outcome which I will have through this project. I wouldn’t say that I have had too many downs with this project as we are still yet to complete it; we are just starting criterion. However, communicating with my project supervisor has been difficult, especially during these times when we are not in school.
Yasmin: I did have times where I would procrastinate and struggle to meet my deadlines. Other than that, my project has been running smoothly.
Alexandrea: This project has had several ups and downs that are really stressful. Not hearing back from my supervisor when I need help is really hard especially when I ask a week and a half before. Another struggle is when a company or people do not reply on time so my timeline is thrown off course. The last thing is recording the process in the journal. This is important to do on the day because the memory is free but if pushed, it causes trouble.