What is the Komera Leadership Summit?
July 22- 26, 2019
The Komera crew hosted another incredible week of Leadership Camp, part of a series of 3 week-long conferences for Komera scholars that make up the Leadership Summit Program. Though the summer program usually takes place in August, with school starting on the 4th of August, we expertly rearranged the curriculum to fit for a week in late July. Here’s a bit more about the day-to-day of this fantastic week of learning and leadership!
SETTING THE STAGE FOR LEARNING:
We know the way the room is designed gives a message to students. We have always worked our best to design the room with welcoming words, safe space messages, inspiring quotes from strong women like Malala hanging in the room, and space for our students to add their own words of encouragement. The moment the girls enter the room they are very happy and these details set the tone for the week: joyful, inspiring, ambitious, safe, and curious. They mention how peaceful they feel from the moment camp begins and how fun it is to be at camp all week. We are prepared with all the tools for a fruitful and creative week; a store of pens, markers, colors, designed papers, scissors, etc. is always kept on hand.
WHO WAS THERE:
75 students attended the camp! Plus, university scholar Claire returned to help staff facilitate the 5- day curriculum. In addition, we had a variety of guest speakers who helped expand on our teachings and inspire our scholars.
We cover A LOT of material in one week of leadership camp! This July, the curriculum included child rights and protection policies, career guidance, reproductive health, how to pass national exams, teenage pregnancy and how to prevent it, storytelling, leadership qualities, and saving & entrepreneurship skills. Because reproductive health lessons are of the utmost importance for our scholars, we were able to host two speakers on this subject, Mutamba Josephine, our Komera staff nurse, and Bizimana Ettienne from SHFR.
Lessons provide a time for us to invite local professionals into the classroom to inspire our students. At networking events, we connect with business professionals, NGO leaders, doctors, bank managers, engineers and more! We then invite these folks to share their stories and areas of expertise with our scholars. Scholars then see that people, just like them with similar hardship and struggles, have been able to overcome adversity and work hard to be successful in their chosen fields. They love learning from each professional, but more-so, they walk away from these lessons with a sense of hope and ambition.
How to pass the national exams:
This month’s leadership camp was extra special; we had Komera’s University scholar Uwamaliya Claire return to Kayonza to help facilitate! As an added bonus, she shared about how she passed the national exams, and the scholars were enthralled by her narrative and tangible advice! Claire clearly explained how to prepare for exams in advance, how to enter into examination period set up for success, what common mistakes to avoid, and what to expect on test day. Students liked her story of passing at FAWE Girls School with high grade to join the university. ! They asked many questions like why someone panics in exams, why memorization is so hard, why they feel restless and anxious, why lessons appear difficult, and many other questions. At the end, they said that the lesson was very helpful and that they are going to work hard and pass the national exams!
For Claire, she loved returning to Komera, a place that has always felt like home. She shared that she loved being with the students! She participate in morning sports, she facilitated assorted workshops and games alongside Komera staff, supported on Skype calls, and more! The staff loved seeing how Claire has grown and supporting her to develop new leadership skills in this context. We are so grateful she was able to join us and hope to host more university scholars at coming summits!
Child Rights and Protection:
The students also liked the child protection policy lessons because they learned a lot! We were amazed at the thoughtful, curious questions they asked about children rights. They were interested in learning about right to wealth, the names that are written properly on their documents, heritage questions, adopted children questions, extended families and heritage, DNA questions, ignored children and their own rights.
The speaker Nsengimana Ilidefonsi from Haguruka took half day explaining every question asked, and the students were captivated the whole time! Over 50 questions were answered. Most importantly, the students were told where to go in case of any issues and coached on how to report violations of rights, empowering them to take control of injustice they see around them!
Sexual and Reproductive Health:
We hosted Bizimana Etienne for the Reproductive Health Lesson, and he was very creative in his presentation. He had many techniques that made his class accessible for our scholars, creating a warm, welcoming and participative environment. His humor carried the lesson and not a single student was bored or shy. He taught about body parts and sexual & reproductive health, answering tough questions in a way that was accessible for scholars. Demonstration helped make his lesson memorable. For example, he showed them how HIV is spread and how diseases attack the body as a result of loosing immunity. Despite the challenging material, games and open conversation helped scholars meaningfully engage. The students requested that he come back in the next camp because they liked his teachings so much!
In the mornings, scholars participated in various sports curriculum. Jogging, running, jumping and stretching are great ways to start the day for our students, sharpening their minds and lifting their spirits for a long day of learning!
Since completing a week-long teacher training with Souljourn Yoga, Komera staff were eager to share their knowledge with the Komera scholars at camp! The scholars loved the body, mind & spirit connection and seemed more grounded in lessons throughout the day. They learned some of the health benefits of yoga, including increased energy, reduced stress and a healthier immune system. The girls promised to continue doing yoga on their own, especially as a part of their plans to deal with anxiety for upcoming national exams!
We love showcasing the talents of our scholars and seeing their hard work develop into a celebrated performance! In the talent show, all students were very eager and strong, not just when performing but also when supporting their fellow students to shine on stage! We love to see how students develop their confidence, work in groups and exercise their creativity.
Performances ranged from silly to sincere. One particularly giggle-inducing act incorporated silly dance moves and animial imitations. Some scholars used this moment to thank their sponsors. For instance, Olivienne made a heart and composed a poem to her sponsor. Others students sung songs to their sponsors and sent them much love.
We were especially elated to see students known to be shy begin to break out of their shell and develop their confidence! For example, Manishimwe Diane used to be quite timid, but at this month’s talent show, she sang beautifully, with all the other students cheering her on! Plus, we loved seeing Benegusenga Vanessa, one of the younger senior four scholars, serve as our Master of Ceremony. She delighted the room with her commentary and brought a lovely added layer of joy to the night! Mukatwiringiyimana Clemantine also bravely stood and danced to her best. In fact, she surprised the other students with her talent so much that they declared her the best dancer!
As always, the talent show went late into the night (until 10 pm!) but left all with full hearts and lots of joyful memories!