Peter Mbabil's participation in Ashesi University's AIX summer program was undeniably the highlight of his year. The experience not only imparted valuable lessons but also forged lifelong friendships. It's moments like these that shape futures and create lasting impacts.
Six years ago, Peter's strong desire to leave the streets inspired Future of Africa to take an extra step in securing a community centre to provide a safe space for young boys and girls living on the streets. We gathered all the street residents who expressed a wish to return to school and sponsored their education. Despite being out of school for nearly four years, Peter was confident that he would excel if given the chance to enroll in a reputable school.
This year, we joyfully celebrate Peter as he proudly represented his high school at the Ashesi Innovation Experience (AIX). Peter, among the brilliant students, was granted a scholarship to participate in the AIX camp—a transformative two-week program offering hands-on learning in Design Thinking, Robotics, Creative Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Engineering.
With a keen interest in robotics, design thinking, and the creative arts, AIX presented an amazing opportunity for Peter to gain practical experience. Hundreds of students apply for this opportunity annually, and despite waiting for a month to receive feedback, Peter stayed hopeful, believing he could be the first pupil to represent his school in the 11-year history of the program.
After taking part in AIX, my confidence has grown and I believe I can now hone my strengths, find ways to address my weaknesses and communicate my ideas well
Ashesi’s AIX program is a catalyst for self-discovery, leadership, and creative thinking, inspiring the creation of innovative products and fostering entrepreneurial spirit. Students not only learn effective communication methods but also how to pitch their ideas.
For Peter, the experience was an eye-opener to countless possibilities. Interactions with experts from diverse fields, reflections, and team projects enriched his journey, providing a deeper appreciation for various artistic expressions through the creative arts class.
Reflecting on his time, Peter shared his most memorable moment during a session titled 'The School of Life.' This session imparted a profound lesson about the complexities of human experiences, making the entire AIX experience even more meaningful.
In a thought-provoking simulation game, each of us took on a role, but with a twist—a sticky note on our foreheads revealed a character flaw, some positive and others negative. I played a person facing physical limitations, striving for a better life in the city. My in-game goal was to gather enough money for surgery abroad. However, there was a catch—my character’s flaws were turning people away, making me judgmental in return.
The turning point came when I encountered a girl labelled as an abortionist. Yet, beyond the sticky note, she proved to be a kind-hearted soul. This experience served as a powerful reminder that everyone’s life is intricate, and passing judgment without understanding their stories is unfair.
This lesson stayed with me, emphasizing that uncovering the reasons behind choices doesn’t justify hasty judgments. It highlighted the importance of empathy and the intricate nature of human beings and their journeys.