I had never really believed in the adage, “love at first sight” but as I reflect upon one of my experiences at the Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe, and the day I first visited the ARDYIS Facebook page, I am tempted to think otherwise and really believe in “love at first site”.
I stood there and my senses were totally raptured. My eyes and mind were fixed on the Youth in Agriculture Blogging Competition (YoBloCo Awards) poster that was hanging on the door right in front of me. It was hanging almost on a single corner now, and it was evident that nobody was really paying attention to it. I looked closer and realised that the deadline was not very far.
As we stood in front of that poster, my friend shook me to wake me up from this psychological seizure. By the way we were on our way to the dining hall for lunch and this particular day was in the middle of a Web 2.0 and Social Media Learning Opportunity organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in collaboration with the Bindura University of Science Education.
As we discussed with my colleague, a number of participants shared their views about the training and its possible impact on their professional agricultural activities in the long run. As everybody aired their views, I kept reminiscing and visualising the image and words I had seen on that poster. It said three statements that stole my heart:
“Are you the next top agriculture blogger?” and it went on to say;
“Give your career a boost…” and oh, again it said;
“Stand a chance to win 3,000 Euros worth in prize money”.
I could not erase these three statements from my mind (especially the third one :-D). I kept asking myself, could all this really be true? But I had a strong faith that this poster was really talking about me. So we had lunch that day and I told one of my colleagues, “I will join this competition and I am going to be the next top blogger”.
Well, we were just starting the training and I really did not even know what blogging was, but I knew blogging was part of the training. So, my colleague looked a little startled at my remarks, but she encouraged me and said “go for it”!
As we walked back to the training room that day, I copied the link on the poster, and it was a link to the same advert appearing on the ARDYIS page. Finally we created our blogs and I entered the contest, taking my first baby steps to destiny.
I still had a lot more to learn, but the fact that I had opened the gateway between me and the world was really exciting for me. I was sharing my views with the world and the world listened to me… excited sounded like an understatement!
Time went on, and as every love story, mine also had a sad part… The YoBloCo contest evolved through different phases and evaluations. I did not manage to make it as a finalist; that was the sad part. But the good thing is that after the sad part, there always comes a “they lived happily ever after” part! The good part is that; this was not the end of my relationship the ARDYIS project and CTA. It was in fact just the beginning. Love stories usually become more interesting just after that ‘tragic loss’!
The next top blogger
The results of the YoBloCo Awards were announced and I was surprised to find my name somewhere in the article. The ARDYIS project had given me special mention to encourage me to keep blogging! Well the first exciting thing about this is, “My name was published on the internet!” (I kind of like felt like a celebrity). I also felt like I was the ‘next top blogger’ a dream come true from the day I first met the ARDYIS page.
Secondly, CTA launched a call for social reporters for the Fin4Ag International Conference. I made my application and was successfully selected as an on-site social reporter from over 600 applications.
My career received a boost
The second of the three statements I read during the Web 2.0 training was fulfilled; ‘my career received a boost’. Through my participation in the Fin4Ag Conference, I got to meet and interview high level professionals that I only dreamt of meeting.
Some of these were my personal role models like Calvin Miller of FAO and Lamon Rutten of CTA. I also finally had the opportunity to meet the great Ken Lohento and Nawsheen Hosenally, the main people behind the ARDYIS project. It was all like a dream come true and I am convinced that it opened doors for more dreams to come true.
An experience worth more than 3000 Euros
As I approach the end of my story, the third statement I read, ‘win up to 3,000 Euros in prize money’ did not directly materialise. However, the value of the benefits I have received so far from participating in the ARDYIS project and YoBloCo Awards has been much more than 3,000 Euros!
I have made great networks and great friends from different parts of the world. My eyes have been opened to greater and new horizons. I have received a clearer purpose of why I should keep blogging and the impact this could have on my community, country and continent. It was true ‘love at first sight’ and my journey as a blogger and relationship with the ARDYIS project has lived “happily ever after”!
Blogpost by Harrison Manyumwa, Social Reporter for the Fin4Ag Conference.