"Dear CTT Family,
I hereby humbly request your expensive time and kindly share my unexpected journey to Williamsburg- Virginia (USA) this year.
As a young innovator and enthusiastic computer scientist I was invited by USAID to attend the HESN TechCon 2013 in Virginia from 15th – 22rd November 2013.
I was so excited being out of Africa for the first time and representing Makerere University, Uganda, Africa, CTT and SMK. I could not let this opportunity go by; without a second thought I accepted the invitation that made my 2013 such an incredible year with an amazing experience with so many fond memories! - I felt so blessed taking my first flight from Entebbe.
On our arrival, we were guided by students of the College of William and Mary who gave us a tour around the college and shared their Pizza dinner with us. The following day we had dinner with the president of the same college who gave us a warm welcome.
USAID staff and international development leaders met Nov. 16-18 at the Williamsburg Lodge to discuss the first year of work and identify areas of collaboration under the USAID Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) initiative. The College of William & Mary’s development lab, AidData, hosted the event.
HESN aims to inspire innovation at universities using scientific and technological approaches to address development’s most challenging problems.
Other university labs included— University of California at Berkeley, Michigan State, MIT, Duke, Makerere University and Texas A&M—came together to identify areas of collaboration through breakout sessions, panel discussions and a series of speakers. Staff and students from each lab attended the event.
On Saturday, I participated in a student summit organized by AidData Research Assistants and also participated in a Story Map tutorial from Esri software providers and a design lab (Design Thinking) workshop at the Mason School of Business.
I had seen glimpses of analyzing data but I had never been involved in the due process like it was in Virginia. I was participating in things with Ph.D. students, lab directors and USAID staff. It was very humbling working with experts. Everyone had a great perspective of solving something. This was really interesting!
I participated in an “Innovation Marketplace” on Sunday and Monday, showcasing my individual project in a science-fair setting. My innovation was about a mobile application testing kit that assesses the quality of water by simply an image capture (http://www.teamsodzo.wordpress.com). I think this was a great chance for me to showcase my innovation and listen great leaders like Mr.Raj (head of USAID) as well as scientists like Alex Dehgan.
They were two hundred fifty leaders in the international development space and more than two thousand attendees at the conference.
I loved the nature of the American people, they are so loving, and cherishing, caring and above all they know what it means to keep time. [Editor's note: This last observation makes me smile. Ugandans are rarely on time, or even in the ballpark of being on time. I love that Nelson noticed how different the concept of time is here in the US.]
We worked so hard that none of us could see the sun rise or set. We worked from 7:30am to 9:30pm with a few breakout sessions. I have never been so busy like I was whilst in the USA.
It was a hard time, very exhausting and challenging time to me and my fellow teammates due to the cold weather, too much networking, speeches, innovation demonstrations and above all competitive students from the best universities in the world. But guess what? We WON no matter the circumstances. And we are the 'CHAMPIONS' of USAID HESN TECHCON 2013.
As a half orphan, I WISH my dad was still alive to see me ROCK!
Truth be told; there would be NO WAY I could have achieve this without the undying support, sponsorships, mentorship and nurturing of St. Mary Kevin Orphanage and Change the Truth. These are the people at the helm of my achievements and success. They saw me before, when no one did, they believed in me in the times where the world had forgotten me. They gave me hope that Success can be achieved anywhere at any time no matter where you come from.
I can`t mention everything you`ve done for me simply because they are so many but Please allow me to bow down and say. THANK YOU, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Let’s share this success together as we look towards for something better than this next year.
I`ll Be Back...
I wish you a happy festive season and New Year. May God bless you all in whatever you do!
Your sponsored student,