Many businesses, schools, and organizations have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This time has been crucial to explore the digital world in hopes of creating new and fun ways to engage audiences. Alumni in Tanzania didn’t want to halt their projects due to the virus and have been jumping at the chance to takethe virtual realm to new heights. Alumni have been using Zoom to complete various different projects focused on community engagement and safety.
With the Tanzanian government’s recent decision to reopen schools, many are concerned about the risk of contracting the virus in an environment where it would be nearly impossible to maintain the recommended 6 feet distance between individuals. These concerns inspired Mussa Mbugi (YES 2012-2013, Tanzania, hosted by ASSE in Redmond, OR) to do his part to promote safety with his Zoom training. Mussa has been hosting Zoom sessions with the goal of teaching students how to utilize technology to avoid the risk of infection at Tanzanian universities. Along with teaching students how to take advantage of online resources, Mussa is also working on convincing university lecturers to offer online class options as a way of minimizing the number of students who physically attend class on campus.
The innovation doesn’t stop with Mussa’s project. YES alumni noticed some community members were not familiar with the Zoom platform despite its growth in popularity over the pandemic. Therefore, alumni hosted a training session that taught viewers how to navigate Zoom for future online webinars and training. Those Zoom training sessions eventually paved the way for a series of online trainings called the Tanzania Alumni Webinar Series. This series allows alumni to choose the topic of their webinars based on their personal interest or career field. The goal of these webinars are to provide viewers with in-depth training or discussion on subjects relevant to this day and age.
The first session of this series was on June 6th and featured Mr. Baraka, an environmentalist that spoke about climate change on World Environment Day. Alumni are already working on the next webinar, entitled “Let’s Preserve our Home,” with Frank Muhagachi (YES 2012-2013, Tannzannia, hosted by American Councils in Calera, AL) and Bakari Mtili (YES 2011-2012, Tanzania, hosted by AFS in Kingston, NY ) . Frank, an environmental engineer, and Bakari, an advocate for wildlife preservation, will lead the session to discuss positive impacts of COVID-19 to the environment, along with other conversations involving the environment during the pandemic.
These projects provide an opportunity for community members to continue their education in the midst of the pandemic, gain important technological skills, and potentially build up their careers in the comfort and safety of their own homes. The alumni have benefited from these projects as well. Alumni have improved their knowledge in their career fields from questions asked by the participants, have become more knowledgeable in digital platforms, such as Zoom, and also increased their network in their relevant field of work. We are happy to see that with times and technology changing, our alumni are finding ways to adapt and continue to impact their communities.