Support from First Lady Sandra Granger, the Diaspora and Local Sponsors make STEM Camps Possible for Guyanese Youth
The sibling team of Ima, Asha, Caleb and Joshua Christian, although US-born,
have spent many summers in Guyana, attended summer enrichment programs in
Guyana, and are directly connected to Guyana through their involved parents,
former National Team Basketball players Karen Abrams and Leon Christian.
Since emigrating, the parent Christians have never allowed distance to hamper
their contributions to Guyana, whether through representing the country in
several Caribbean basketball championships, investing in a local business,
contributing to local civic efforts, or now inspiring their children to share their
technology knowledge with local students in Guyana. The husband and wife team
feel a strong sense of duty to contribute to the development of Guyana.
Karen Abrams said, “After Ima and Asha expressed their interest in a technology
camp in Guyana, I shared the idea with the First Lady Sandra Granger during her
2015 trip to Georgia, USA. She immediately loved the idea, and responded that
we should contact her again as we got closer to the camp date. As we approached
Summer 2016, the First Lady reached out to ask for an update. I was amazed at
her enthusiasm and willingness to help; her outreach sealed the deal.
I then called up my childhood friend, Chair of the Mathematics Department at
Medgar Evers College, Dr Terrence Blackman, and told him about the proposed
program. He had already been a part of a planning committee for a maths camp
at Queens College, so he suggested that we join forces, and we did. Another call
to a generous benefactor, and all of the locations were organized. We have been
extremely lucky to have received the overwhelming support that we did. For that
we are grateful.”
Since both Leon and Karen worked in the technology industry in the United
States, all four Christian children were exposed to technology like Lego Robotics
building and while very young. In addition, they were exposed to MIT Scratch
Programming as youngsters, and were always encouraged to pursue advanced
Math and Science classes in school.
That background paid off when they used their technical knowledge to Google
search their way through the creation of a mobile app called Five-O, which was
created to allow citizens to rate, review, and track their interactions with law
enforcement officers all across the United States. The team won national and
international attention for their work on Five-O, but more importantly, they
knew that it was necessary for them to pass on what they had learned along the
Ima, who is 18 years old and in her second year as a Stanford University
undergraduate, and her 17-year old sibling Asha, who is a MIT Mite alumna, took
the lead to design an introductory Lego Robotics curriculum which will focus
on careers in technology, how robots are used in the world today, applications of
robot technology in Guyanese society, and the fundamentals of building and
programming Lego Mindstorm EV3 robots.
“Lego Robotics is quite popular in the United States and across all levels of school
from K-12 to University level,” said Ima Christian. “Lego Robotics is a fun and
multidisciplinary approach to teaching programming concepts and reinforcing
concepts like determination, creativity, innovation and problem solving which
young people need to be successful in all industries,” said Caleb Christian.
The team revealed that planning for the camp has been non-stop work, but they
are excited and look forward to their interaction with students and adults
interested in setting up STEM Clubs in Guyana.
“This project would not have been possible without the generosity of a group of
around fifty supporters from the Diaspora
who contributed nearly US$8,000 to purchase robots and supplies for the camp.
Many individuals and sponsors came forward to support us without hesitating.
Some of them reached out to contact us to offer their support. The local
companies, Noble House Seafoods, Backyard Barbecue and Grill, Church’s
Guyana, Bruster’s Guyana, Metro Office and Computer Supplies, Nigel Hughes,
R&S Fishing, Lusignan-Good Hope Learning Center, Friendship Primary
School and Herdmanston Lodge were the local organizations that pitched in without hesitation.
Additionally, representatives from the Ministry of Education and the Telecommunications Ministry have been helpful.
Specifically, the Director of Sports, Mr Christoper Jones, and the Minister of
Education, Honorable Rupert Roopnarine have both expressed support for our
project,” said Karen Abrams. Overall, some key local officials have been
In the Diaspora, Caribbean International Shipping of Lithonia, Georgia, and the
New York-based non-profit organization Guyana Action Committee were also
extremely generous with their support.
The STEM team will arrive next week on two different flights to Guyana. On July
19 th , they will host a workshop for community groups interested in creating STEM
clubs. On July 20 th , another workshop will be held for Camp Volunteers. Both
workshops will be held at Saint Roses High School, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The first robotics camp for Guyanese students will be held on July 21 st at Saint
Roses High School from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Additional camps are scheduled for
Tiger Bay and Queens College during the week of July 25 th , while the camps for
Buxton and Lusignan are scheduled during the week of August 1 st . For more
information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see their website at
http://stemguyana.com. The team can also be reached by WhatsApp at 770-402-