By Sylvie Tanflotien – President at Ameri-STEAM Program
My Ameri-STEAM Program journey was born out of a deep conviction in the importance of educating young girls in the fields of STEAM. I witnessed the challenges that girls face in just staying in school to pursuit knowledge and empowerment within the Ivorian educational system. Persistent inequalities, gender stereotypes, and socio-economic obstacles often hinder their access to quality educational opportunities.
With this realization, I embarked on a mission to create an avenue that would not only educate but also inspire and uplift. Thus, Ameri-STEAM Program, a registered non-profit corporation (501.3c) based in New Jersey was born—a platform that would provide immersive bootcamps, mentoring, and support, aiming to guide girls towards conquering the STEAM world.
Over the past 6 years, we have established collaborations with esteemed organizations such as the Ivorian Ministry of National Education, the United States Embassy in Côte d’Ivoire, Oracle Academy, and the International University of Grand-Bassam, Mobile Telephone Networks (MTN Côte d’Ivoire) and two local municipalities. Together, we have significantly contributed to the success of 5 coding and leadership bootcamps that have empowered and benefited more than 400 young girls aged 12-21.
This past summer was distinguished by an immersive and enjoyable learning experience for 78 schoolgirls held from July 24 to August 22, 2023, in Assouindé, located in the South-East of Côte d’Ivoire.
Our innovative educational program allows participants, from upper middle school to seniors in high school, the bootcamp offered a diverse range of activities, to cultivate crucial skills in computer programming, technology, sports, dance, leadership, and the development of 21st-century competencies like creativity, communication, public speaking, and English language improvement. Throughout the camp, the girls were guided by the camp director, along with a team of 20 supervisors and counselors, ensuring a safe and enriching experience.
The bootcamp’s impact was remarkable. Participants not only acquired technical proficiency in Java Fundamentals (Alice and Greenfoot) and THUNKABLE but they also developed essential leadership qualities such as effective communication, problem-solving, and collaboration. Moreover, they gained invaluable insights into the professional world through interactions with esteemed professionals both from Côte d’Ivoire and around the world.
The stories we’ve collected from past participants are a testament to the life-changing impact of the program. Emma, a high school student who attended our bootcamp, shared this, “Before Ameri-STEAM, I never thought I could even understand STEM subjects. Now, I’m pursuing a degree in computer science with unwavering determination.” Grace, a shy and unassuming young girl when she first came to camp is now pursuing a degree in aeronautics in France and working with Ameri-STEAM as a guest speaker and mentor for the younger girls.
The success stories of our program would be incomplete without the voices of those who have experienced it firsthand. Mariama, 2022 cohort and 2023 counselor, expressed, “As a counselor, I’ve seen girls walk in with self-doubt and leave with a newfound sense of confidence. Ameri-STEAM’s approach doesn’t just teach skills—it ignites a passion and a belief in one’s capabilities.”
Deborah, another participant, recalled her experience as a camper with enthusiasm. “Ameri-STEAM opened my eyes to the incredible ways STEM intersects with the real world. The friendships I formed and the mentors I gained have been invaluable assets on my journey. I graduated this year from high school and being accepted into the school of medicine.”
As we reflect on the strides we’ve made, our eyes are firmly set on the future. Our goal is not only to expand our reach and impact many more girls, but to foster a shift in the narrative surrounding women in STEM. We envision a world where girls don’t just dream of STEM careers but actively pursue and thrive in them. Ameri-STEAM is committed to providing continuous support, mentorship, and opportunities that will enable these dreams to become a tangible reality.
In the coming years, we aim to extend our programs to more underserved rural communities, ensuring that no potential is left untapped. As we celebrate our accomplishments and eagerly anticipate establishing a Leadership Academy for Girls. We are dedicated to partnering with institutions, corporations, and individuals who share our vision of gender equality in STEM fields.
Ameri-STEAM’s journey is a collaborative effort that brings together passionate educators, dedicated mentors from around the world, enthusiastic participants, and supportive parents. Together, we are fostering a movement that transcends boundaries and empowers the next generation of STEM leaders.
In conclusion, Ameri-STEAM is more than just a program—it is a catalyst for change. It is a beacon of hope, illuminating a path that was previously obscured for the girls we touch. It is a tribute to the power of a targeted and impactful initiative. As we forge ahead, let us remember that every girl’s success story is a testament to what is possible and how we can achieve a more just society.