June 27, 2019

Next week, girls from the United States and Ethiopia will be gathering in Addis Ababa for the 2019 Women in Science Girls’ STEAM Camp, where they’ll explore how to use technology to build a safer, more secure world, all while developing their leadership skills and making new friends from other cultures.

Also known as WiSci, the camp brings together teen girls from the U.S. and around the world to explore STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Mathematics) subjects under the mentorship of professionals. WiSci is a private-public partnership between the U.S. Department of State’s Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, the UN Foundation’s Girl Up Initiative, Intel, Google, Microsoft, NASA, and the American Society for Microbiology. The WiSci camp in Ethiopia is implemented by World Learning.

What can this year’s campers expect from their WiSci experience? We turned to the experts for advice: Girls — and an adult mentor — from last year’s camp in Namibia with high school girls from Namibia, Ethiopia, Kenya, eSwatini, and the U.S. (Check out stories from last year’s camp). Read ahead and get inspired!

Samkay (left) poses for a selfie with a fellow WiSci camper Nokwanda (left).

Samkay, 16, eSwatini

This camp is the best thing that has ever happened to me. To any girl who would want to join this camp, let me just say to you that it would be a great opportunity for you to see this camp, experience all that I’ve seen, and learn a lot of new things because these people right here are bringing opportunities to us that we couldn’t get back home. So please come.

Abby, 16, Kenya

I would tell girls that WiSci is not anything you would expect. It’s actually much better. And bring snacks.

Hildana, 16, Ethiopia

My advice would be to not be afraid and to start socializing because there’s a lot you can learn from your peers, just as much as you can learn from your teachers. I got to experience that here.

Jennifer (right) with fellow WiSci camper Iyambo (left).

Jennifer, 17, U.S.

Take risks. Speak to as many people as you can. Take advantage of every opportunity that faces you at WiSci — even leaving home. It’s a great opportunity to span our wings so don’t be afraid to go. And have fun!

Nokwanda, 16, eSwatini

Today I heard this very inspirational quote that says, “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” So, as the quote says, don’t set the limit for yourself.

I’d rather that [a future WiSci camper] failed trying rather than fail without trying at all. If you don’t think your application is good enough, that’s fine. Try it out because you never know what’s ahead. Everything happens for a reason. It’s going to work out. Persevere because we need more strong women in the world. If a girl from Swaziland, one of the smallest countries in the entire world, could make it to Namibia and showcase who she really is then there’s no reason why you can’t.

Jo-Ann poses with her Wall-E bot.

Jo-Ann, 16, Namibia

Girls should know that when someone introduces the word STEAM to them, it doesn’t necessarily mean male. It means female, too. Whatever a man can do, a woman can do, and they can do it even better.

So, I would advise girls to join the camp because at the camp it’s not just about STEAM. It’s about STEAM and about building yourself as a person. For example, in the Girl Up classes, we were taught how to see yourself with a positive body image. And those things help you grow as a person.

Bethany, 17, Ethiopia

I would tell girls that there’s nothing to be shy of. They can do it. We can lead. Go girls!

Zoe (second from right) sings the Namibian national anthem at culture night.

Zoe, 17, Namibia

I’m a very confident person, but this camp boosted my confidence even more, like over the border. There are a lot of shy girls here, but during the course of the camp, these classes helped them to speak up more, to say what they feel, to express themselves in the way that they are most comfortable.

In some villages, girls are not allowed to speak up on anything. So I feel like this camp teaches us how to advocate, where to advocate, and when, and it teaches us how to be confident. I feel like this was a really uplifting program, so I would advise girls to attend so they can benefit as we benefited.

Bezawit G., 16, Ethiopia

Don’t stress much because nobody really knows what they’re doing before they’re here. People may say, “I’m not good enough” or they’re afraid to face other cultures or something. Be open-minded. Don’t be afraid to try.

Anele (right) poses with a fellow WiSci camper Nokwanda (left) on the NUST campus.

Anele, 16, eSwatini

Be open. I mean open. Come here and make long relationships. Make relationships that matter. Make relationships where you can say, “I was at camp and we created this app” or “I was at camp and we created this particular project which, now that I’m successful, I can actually implement it outside of just my village or my school.” Those are the kinds of relationships I’m glad I’m making right now. Make friends but make significant friendships that can go on forever.

Renata, 16, U.S.

This is the most amazing experience and you need to take every opportunity that you can because they’re worth more than you can imagine. Even the flight! Make as many friends as you can. Don’t be afraid to switch tables to be with different people. Eat the food. Try to be as happy as you can and don’t focus on the little things that are bothering you because it’s just so big picture what we’re doing here. We’re advancing women in STEAM, which is so cool. It’s such an amazing program.

Onome Ofoman, Software Engineer, Google

Women in Science (WiSci) Girls STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Mathematics) Camp is a private public partnership (PPP) between the U.S. Department of State’s Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, the UN Foundation’s Girl Up Initiative, Intel, Google, Microsoft, NASA, and the American Society for Microbiology. In 2018, the camp brought approximately 100 high school girls from the African continent and the U.S. together for 13 days in Namibia to explore the STEAM fields and access mentorship opportunities and leadership training.