Mageto was one of the first students to join butterfly effect in Kenya and he is now in his final year of high school. These days, his participation has reduced as he takes more time to prepare for his forthcoming exams. However, he still posts content whenever he can and is always at hand to comment and promote learning on the site. The following article is his reflection on some of his experiences in the program.
I joined Butterfly Effect in the year 2013 when I was in grade 10. At the beginning, it connected Kenyan and Canadian students working on science projects. It was introduced to our school through the education section of Ol Pejeta Conservancy‘s Community Department. The department works with schools around the conservancy as part of its Community Development Program where, among other things it provides bursaries for needy students, builds classrooms and donates books and computers. In addition, through PA-MOJA, they connect schools around the conservancy with Canadian and American sister schools to promote cultural and educational awareness.
The original Butterfly Effect website provided a platform where we could post our research and receive feedback from our peers in Canada. Initially, there were seven pioneer students from Tigithi Boys School in Kenya who connected to a small group of students at Heritage Woods Secondary; they were later joined by girls from Loise Girls Secondary and Langley Fine Arts School.
When I first joined the Butterfly Effect, I didn’t know at all how to use a computer and had no idea what the internet was let alone how it worked. In fact, like many of my colleagues, the ideas of “internet” was foreign and I didn’t even know how to type. Therefore, I am eternally grateful for the fact that I was introduced to computers and other technologies that may have remained a mystery. Over the years, I have honed several skills through Butterfly Effect. The most notable ones being online research, using programs such as Skype with ease, learning to interact with people in other countries, and my typing speed has greatly improved.
Before Butterly Effect came calling, I was not even aware of Skype and what it meant. When we first did a Skype call with Canadian students I thought we would have to pay a great deal for the connection, but to my surprise it was quite cheap. That first experience of being part of a Skype call made me realize that one could connect with people living very far away on a face to face basis.
At first, it was almost impossible for me to understand the Canadian students’ accent and I had to keep asking them to repeat what they were saying. However, with time, it became easier and eventually our communication was almost flawless.
Through Butterfly Effect I made new friends from Canada and the U.S.A and got to know more about their life style. I also realised that Canadians and Americans are very kind hearted people with whom it is easy to make friends. The program has also helped me develop critical and objective thinking. I have learnt that to prove any premise, one has to carry out research and investigate all the evidence at hand. This made me academically sharp in both sciences and languages. Furthermore, the knowledge gathered through Butterfly Effect as well as critical thinking skills have been instrumental in improving my academic performance at school.
Butterfly Effect has also impacted on my leadership skills. When I was appointed its leader back when I was in grade 10. I learnt how to lead people and eventually my fellow students recognised this by electing me school captain. My language skills also improved and as a result, I have become a better communicator. To a large extent, this was because I had numerous opportunities to practice my spoken English talking to my Canadian friends as well as Silvia and Alison through Skype.
Earlier this year, I had a chance to experience the adventure of a lifetime at the Rift Vally Adventures camp at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy with other Butterfly Effect students. I got to learn so many things, made new friends and got to see wildlife at the conservancy. I also, enjoyed canyoning and rock climbing none of which I had experienced before.
Butterfly Effect has also buoyed my self-esteem and confidence. I have been able to work on various projects by myself as well as research, something most Kenyan students only ever get to do at the university level. It has given me a head-start as a future undergraduate and am sure I will have an edge over my peers in research projects.
Notwithstanding the great experiences that I have had in Butterfly Effect, I have been faced by a number of challenges which I guess have also strengthened me. Some of this challenges include:
At some point, I almost left the club as I could not figure out how to to work on my projects alone; things got so tough for me to an extent that I felt I was just a stagnant member with almost no understanding the project. Sometimes, I had a hard time figuring out what Alison and Silvia wanted us to do and felt like I couldn’t do it correctly . This was mostly due to my limited ICT skills at the time. However, thanks to God, right now am able to type very fast, can use an iPad, and laptops with ease because I never gave up despite the challenges.
As a club, we also faced opposition from both our parents and teachers who thought that we were wasting time instead of concentrating on our studies. Sometimes, when my perfomance dropped, my teachers would say it was because Butterfly Effect was stealing away my learning time. Luckily, our principal, Mr. Muchiri, always gave us his unwavering support and without him, I would probably have dropped from the program.
The Internet was also a hindrance as I was working on my projects; sometimes I had ideas to post but would end up not posting since the internet was so poor. In addition, it was difficult to convince teachers to work with us. This, however, changed with Mr. Irungu, the Tigithi boys patron. He joined the Butterfly Effect recently and has been with us every step of the way. I also wish to recognise Mr. Mburu who has supported us since we joined butterfly effect two years ago, the PA-MOJA team, and the Ol Pejeta team, Emily and Ian.
By Victor Mageto
Tigithi Boys Secondary
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