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  • Theodore Kanjo, Open Dreams Scholar

I don’t do it because it is easy, I do it because it is hard

From the eyes of a child with no dreams to the eyes of a 22 year old who envisions a world of talent manifestation and creativity, I have come to learn that each person has a creative side and they only need a prod to help them unlock their latent potential. I am an artist and I say that a lot. I was not born an artist, but I made myself one. It took me years of practice and open mindedness to get to be who I am today. I have been drawing since I was nine years, when my parents separated. It was through art that I survived this excruciating separation. When I drew, I felt solitude; a great tool needed by an artist for concentration. I used music to facilitate my transition into the art world as every note resonated with every stroke. I also used music as a tool for sleeping whenever I am going through an insomnia; what I do is, I meditate on the faintest beat and within ten minutes (guessing) sleep comes in. If this does not work for you, grab a pillow, curl up in bed and keep reading to find out... Anyway, that is a story for another time… As great as I have depicted art, it is sad to say that I once gave up on it. I was preparing for my high school end of year exams and it demanded much from me academically. Art was not a big deal for me back then until I came to know the true meaning of what it represents which is life and it tells the story of the reality that I create. My chief area of focus was Engineering and Math and I did not know that I could juxtapose art with these fields. It was an eye opening moment for me when I listened to a TEDx Talk which centered on adding ‘A’ to STEM to form STEAM “Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics”.

Without mincing words, through the generosity and support of Open Dreams and her intense and flexible curriculum, I embraced entrepreneurial leadership, I learned to work in a group and solving problems that directly affects the community. When I gained admittance into this ideal organization, I thought that a scholarship was free money given to someone with an impressive academic record, so I knew that I was getting free money. My first month at the Open Dreams Summer Academy was scary for me because I had never been in a small sized class room with only about eight students. I was introduced to Skype where I participated in webinars with professors, wrote essays (hated it), we had debate sessions and played mind games with the sole aim of enhancing critical thinking. As scared as I was, I learned to adapt to this setting because the fear I let build up in my mind was worse than the situation that actually existed. I recently learned that I am an introverted-extrovert and what that means is that I love the spotlight, but I am terrified of it, yet I always seem to find a solution to stage fright. I have faced some setbacks which almost weighed me down. For instance, I had applied continuously for university scholarships for two years, but did not succeed and thanks to constant reminder from the Open Dreams family that with failure comes success, it encouraged me to work even harder.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over using the same method” as Albert Einstein postulates “but expecting different results”, I learned from my mistakes and improved on my application. Within this two years, I began my university education before the political upheaval started in Cameroon, so I used this note as advantage to drop out of school and focus on my college applications. I strictly would not advise anyone to do this! My parents looked at me with dejection, but I managed to convince them to look at the positive side of the scenario. I avoided my father often since I lived with my uncle because I did not want him looking at me with eyes reading “disappointment”. I also avoided my peers because every time I spoke to them they asked me “Theo, why are you not schooling?” I grew tired of making excuses. Open Dreams became my second home and I hold the record for being the scholar who applied to highest number of universities. My days at the academy was spent on my applications and helping out the new scholars. I was finally able to face my father when I landed the prestigious MCF - ALA full ride scholarship into the University of Botswana to study Mechanical Engineering. Despite the obstacles that I faced, I did not give up and perseverance let me experience the glimpse of my dreams. Open Dreams is a once in a lifetime opportunity that fosters into students the skills that they need to accessing their dreams. I do not do it because it is easy, I do it because it is hard.

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