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Returning Maths Camp Students

Bahir Dar University Maths Camp Alumni

Meron leading a cards game session


"I wanted to come back as a returning student because I wanted other students to get the chance to experience what I experienced. I wanted to transfer the knowledge and exciting energy I got from the camp to others and to also see how this camp came to be. I hope they had great time like I did"

Meron Mulatu

Tell us about your experience in this maths camp as a returning student.

"Coming back to the camp as a returning student was very different as compared to being a participant. The 2 weeks I spent in Bahir Dar University preparing for the 8th math camp were really demanding and tiring specially for a person like me who has never been part of a big program as a coordinator. I was really happy when I was asked to be part of the preparing team because I did somehow wonder how the camp came to be and this was my time to actually see the real thing about the camp. But never did I realize that things were about to get real. I was fascinated to see that every big process consisted of little details such as lesson plans and rehearsals. Things were organized to the max unlike some school programs. This made me a bit scared as this was my first time doing such a thing.

The first 2 preparation days were a bit confusing as I didn’t really know what I wanted to work on and how I was being helpful. We had a lot to do and arrange as we were doing it for new comers who had no idea about the camp. I was worried as I wasn’t really the confident type to be in front of a bunch of people leave alone lead a session. But thanks to the other facilitators I actually got to choose a session for myself and also work on other sessions with them.

My session was treasure hunt which is one of the most memorable and enjoyable programs of the camp. When I first got the task I thought things were pretty easy because as I remembered my time as a participant the things that I remembered about treasure hunt where the puzzles and locations. Choosing the locations wasn’t that hard as I had played the game before but taking a tour around the places gave us a surprise, the summer’s best friend the rain was not on our side. It is probably one of the most unforgettable moments of the whole camp. Preparing the puzzles was on a different level as it needed to be on the students’ level, not too easy but not that challenging because they will be moving from place to place and that could use all their energy. It took me a lot of time to decide on the puzzles so I had to ask for help from my associates and through a lot of work we agreed on the questions for the session.

I also went out of my comfort zone and had different conversations with students from different places so as to make them comfortable during game nights. It made me a better version of myself as I was giving it my all. The students were not that communicative at first but they started to give in which was rewarding. Besides the students I also got along with the lectures which made me really happy.

Through this program I didn’t only teach, but I also got to learn a lot of mathematical principles myself that proved to me that learning never ends. I was there volunteering but It felt like I was there to see how much I can give while being in the most tight situations. It definitely increased our decision making, flexibility, communication skills, and leadership quality. Besides all of this, the satisfaction of seeing the students enjoying my session made me so blissful that I forgot about the troubles of making the session. I was so thankful. It made me want to be in the “behind the scenes” of programs. "

What was your experience from the first maths camp and why did you decide to come back as a returning student?

I can without holding back say that my first math camp was very enjoyable. I had always been a big fan of math even before coming to the camp, but never had I thought that math can be shaped into different enjoyable activities and considered as a fun subject. I was at a state of forgetting that math was fun when I came to the camp. So it changed my mindset about the subject and its applications. Besides the whole learning and having fun thing, it raised my confidence as I wasn’t the type to make friends that easily. It made me forget about the word “shy” and “reserved” which was surprising. I got to meet people from other countries and share experiences, cultural values and norms. I laughed and jumped my heart out during my camp days. I didn’t even know I got that in me but thanks to the camp I now know. It is by far one of the best moments of my life as a student.

I wanted to come back as a returning student because I wanted other students to get the chance to experience what I experienced. I wanted to transfer the knowledge and exciting energy I got from the camp to others and to also see how this camp came to be. I hope they had great time like I did.

Any suggestions for improvements of the maths camps, what things would you like to see more of?

The camp itself does not need improvement but the things associated with it need a bit of change like the toilets, meals and stuff. Unfortunately this year, our students and some facilitators were a bit sick supposedly because of the food. So I hope better meals with quality can be provided to the students. The toilets in the dormitory for this year’s math camp were so much better than those of the camp 2 years ago, so this shows improvement.

Being on time is very necessary for the camp but some of the classrooms were very far away from one another so it was a bit hard to keep our schedules. If we can change these factors the camp could be even better. We were talking about it with the lectures and Dr. Abdu about introducing it to other parts of the country, increasing its scope so I hope in the next math camps we can see a lot of diversity within the program.

What would you tell anyone interested in participating in a math camp?

This one is very easy. I would tell them to go for it proud! To be part of this amazing and life changing camp and to give it all they got with the active participation, learning, asking and searching. Because if they do, they will benefit more than they think they will.

Where are you now and what are your future plans?

I have currently finished high school and I am waiting to take the university entrance exams. I have since I was young set my mind in medicine and I hope to proceed with it but I also want to grow my knowledge about math and technology because math is and has always been my favorite subject. I hope I get a chance to do both God willing.

What did you find most memorable? How have the maths camps impacted you?

L"The camp has impacted me in so many ways. It changed my mindset of math for the better and made me want to work hard in the future. It is very hard to pick moments from the camp as most memorable but some that came to mind as I am writing this are, our international facilitators dancing and singing to our cultural songs during our trip, our chats with them during lunch time talking about food and cultural things, game nights and the chats we had with our facilitators about the mosquitos during night time, our hyphening physical activity sessions where we would jump and giggle over nothing, and also treasure hunt with my team mates where we would ran and ran and ran without really knowing where we were going.

After coming back as a returning student, I have become more responsible about the things I would do and say. I was trying to create a memorable moment for my students so I kind of felt like a grown up. But the most memorable time as a returning student was getting caught up in the rain while taking a tour around the places for treasure hunt. The situation was bad, it was pouring nonstop but so was our laughter. We were soaked and cold but thinking it was once in a life time thing we didn’t really care that much. Another moment that comes to mind is the meals I had with my fellow facilitator friends. We would be so tired to eat but when we get together in the cafeteria all of us start cheering each other up and have a wonderful meal. The joyful faces of our students is also memorable, it was because they were enjoying it that we didn’t give up and worked more. "