In August, we sent 4 scholars from MaryHill Girls High School and the Kenya High School for the Yale Young African Scholars that was held in Ghana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.They joined other participants from around the continent for a one-week training program on a high-intensity academic and leadership program designed for African secondary school students who have the talent, drive, energy, and ideas to make meaningful impact as young leaders, even before they begin their university studies.The young scholars were selected for portraying leadership in their lives as individuals and community leaders.The YALE program has elevated the Akili Dada scholars to a higher level especially due to the multi-cultural space provided. They have brought knowledge, perspective and opinions combined with a high level of confidence to the space.
Valentine and other scholars at the YYAS take part in an activity. Photo Credit: YYAS
Valentine and other scholars at the YYAS take part in an activity. Photo Credit: YYAS


On the of 20th August, I left Kenya for Zimbabwe for the annual Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS). On landing at the airport, we were picked by a staff member from Arundel. Kenya was well represented by eleven scholars.Each morning began at 7:30am with breakfast then followed by lectures at 8:30 am by different specialists in different fields. At 10:00am we went into our discussion groups so as to help us understand the day’s lecture more. At 10:45am we had a workshop where we were taken through the process of common application to universities in the United States. We wrote essays and mine was the best from my workshop. What a nice feeling. Lunch was always served at 12:00 pm then at 1:00pm we had seminars until 2:30pm when we had a break for some refreshments. At 3:00pm to 6:00pm we had different activities on team building activities and other learning experiences. At 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm we had ACT and S.A.T classes.On the 25th August we had the certificate ceremony followed by the talent show. Kenyans put a perfect show dancing “Kula kwa Macho”, it was amazing. On the 26th of August, at 12.01pm we had been dropped at the airport yet our flight was at 1:45am. I have never been that patient.

Mary, an Akili Dada scholar at the workshop in Zimbabwe. Photo Credit: YYAS
Mary, an Akili Dada scholar at the workshop in Zimbabwe. Photo Credit: YYAS


The journey to Zimbabwe for the Yale Young African Scholars program started at 4:00am on 20th August, a Saturday. My friend and I were taken to the airport by Samantha of Akili Dada and the driver. We started the process of checking in which took approximately an hour and a half. Our flight was at 7:30 am. The experience was wonderful. I met a girl called Valeria who became my friend on the plane and afterwards. Upon arrival at Harare, we met the Arundel school driver who took us to Arundel school which is a very prestigious school.Our stay there was fun-filled. It was a place of intense learning but in a fun way. We had breakfast at 7:30 am, lunch at 12:00pm and dinner at 6:00pm. The meals prepared were wonderful. On a normal day, we had a lecture, a discussion section, workshop, a seminar, family time, cates prep and free time. I attended 4 seminars on, Flags, Urbanization in Africa, Re-imagining urban spaces and about the Internet. My best one was the one on flags. We made a flag for ourselves. I also enjoyed the workshop time where we learnt about college application and writing personal essays. Family time was spent well with my family with whom we played many games. Cates prep was not fun at all though we still learnt a lot. Free time was for us to mingle and get to know each other. We were to sleep at 11:00pm when bed-check was done and the house locked. On the last day we got certificates and also had a talent show. We, Kenyans performed a dance of a Kiswahili song “Kula kwa Macho”, after which everyone wanted to be Kenyan. We left Arundel on Friday 26th for the Airport. My flight was at 1:45am but was delayed by an hour and 20 minutes. It was really boring to wait at the airport from 12:30am to the next day with nowhere to go. All the same I enjoyed the week and I plan to apply for the Yale Global Scholars program, hopefully I will be chosen.


29th July I was so ready for this day. It would be the first time I got on a plane. At last my dreams are being fulfilled. I met other scholars going for the Yale program at the airport and I knew I wasn’t alone. Looking forward to an exciting program.

30th July We started the rigorous program today. It makes me think of being in a Yale class. Today, we covered the common application to universities in the United States. We learnt to also write personal essays to compliment our application.

31st July I started getting used to the routine and  also knowing people and speaking good English. We had a lecture from Dr. Louise Lombard who proved us that anthropology is an interesting career choice especially when studying about other cultures. My best moment today was the seminar on African Identity. We learnt that for someone to be African he does not necessarily need to be dark or have kinky hair but an African is someone who supports and is not ashamed of the continent.

August 1st We had the college admissions board today. We learnt what Stanford and Columbia expect from the applications. Not just good grades but zeal and passion to succeed in everything the students do. They also look for a person who can fit in their lifestyle.

August 2nd I learnt a very interesting fact today! That it was faster to send a message from Kinshasa to Capetown in the older days using drums than it is today using telecommunications networks which means that Africans were civilized in their lifestyle in the precolonial period.This also means that the statement “Africa is a dark continent” is not valid.

August 3rd We had a seminar on Environmental Justice today with Ian Ishmael. I was also kind of a facilitator in the session because I was conversant with the topic. We watched an all awesome video “The Hummingbird” by Wangari Maathai. We got certificates today and had an awesome talent show with people performing their national dances.

August 4th Selfie Day!Everyone leaving and all hugging and goodbye. I’ll be on a plane again.