The achievements of the unique student projects over the last two years were celebrated by students and HAMK in Africa team with a “FINAL GALA”. The event led by students of Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) was held on May 16th, 2023, in the HAMK Design factory at the University Centre in Hämeenlinna.
The Theme for the GALA was “Industry and students working together to tackle Social & Business challenges”. The event gave an opportunity for students to share experiences, network and celebrate the successful finish of the spring 2023 edition of student challenges. This year we had four student challenges in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa.
Keynote speaker Basil Mugonola
The Gala opened with a video recap of beautiful pictures and videos taken by students, who participated in the field work in Africa, followed by opening words from Jennifer Ohemeng to welcome attendees to the event on behalf of the HAMK in Africa Team.
Our keynote speaker, Associate Professor Basil Mugonola from Gulu University (Uganda) highlighted the importance of student challenges, working in multicultural groups, making connections and contributing to a lifelong learning journey. The Final Gala celebrated the hard work done by students, and participating universities and countries. The project partners also shared greetings online.
HAMK in Africa achievements & statistics
The number of challenges and students taking part has increased steadily over the past years. The projects have actively involved 82 HAMK students in different problem-based projects. 52 students have had the opportunity to travel to a partner institution to conduct fieldwork and studies on the related subject.
The challenges support students to acquire new skills and competencies that are reflected in project related tasks. English communication and writing skills are greatly improved as all projects are entirely in English. HAMK students have produced blog posts for HAMK internal communications and the dissemination of the projects pages for PBL BioAfrica and AgriScale.
During spring 2023 four teams travelled to different African countries for student challenges. Team Zambia’s challenge was commissioned by Kitui central Dairy Farmers’ cooperative society limited. The project’s main goal was to find ways to make the dairy cooperative successful in its everyday operations and strategies to strengthen the value chain, so that it can access untapped markets. In the end, students presented new business ideas along the value chain and recommended management practices to address the problems faced by the cooperative. For example, the group proposed the leadership gave more responsibility to the young people after their assessment.
Team Kenya’s challenge was about youth group called Matungu Bizz Kilimo Youth group, and how to increase the entrepreneurship of youth and better the lives of people in the village. As part of the project, students provided training to the youth group to improve their operations in areas like record keeping, marketing of their products, team motivation and shared innovation ideas around Agri enterprises.
Team Uganda’s challenge was about increasing the use of organic fertilizers on the soil in Mbarara region. The students were involved in lab testing, and setting up experimental plots using vegetables that can be grown and harvested in 2–3 months.
Team South Africa was working with Ratombo Farming Enterprise, doing a strategic and operational plan for the company against the negative impacts of climate change. A few tips that the students brought up: be open-minded and adjustable, learn about the culture of your destination country, share your joys and sorrows, and most importantly: stay hydrated and use sunblock!
But the main entertainment of the Gala was a mesmerizing piece with an alto flute performance by Auli Vesamäki.
Upcoming student challenges
HAMK in Africa is pleased to inform that the student challenges will continue in the Autumn of 2023.
The first ever Final Gala for HAMK in Africa projects was a success, and hopefully will become a tradition also in the upcoming challenges. The event was filled with laughs, smiles and a great atmosphere, in both live audience and online participants.
Massive thank you to everyone in the organizing team, presenting teams for great work, and audience: you review.
To be continued…
Jennifer Ohemeng and Maija Pyhälammi HAMK Bio Research Unit, HAMK in Africa
Photos taken by Maija Pyhälammi (1-4) Jali Närhi (5)