Ronald Kasendwa joined Adobe Youth Voices in 2009 through an iEARN partner site in his hometown of Kampala, Uganda. He started as a student, but after graduation, he decided he loved the program too much to leave. Ronald took an educator certification course in 2010, and for the last two years he has worked as an educator with the program. Not tied to a single classroom, Ronald has the opportunity to work with youth from across the country, and has had the opportunity to observe the impact the program has made with a wide cross-section of young people.
Ronald believes that Adobe Youth Voices provides more than artistic skills, it also encourages critical thinking, moral development and professional capacity building. “Among the many interesting things about being an Adobe Youth Voices educator is seeing your students change in morals and characters as they go through the program,” says Ronald about his experience these last two years.
“Adobe Youth Voices activities are all fun and engaging – which I think are the major aspects every youth looks for in any activities. Because lessons are student-centered and project-based, the program certainly pulls a lot of students on its own. Personally, I derive a lot of satisfaction when I pass on skills to my students – skills that were passed on to me by my teachers and other program implementers. This makes me feel that I have some sort of multiplier effect and also helps to keep the program growing stronger.”
“I would love to urge the youth artists not to look at Adobe Youth Voices as a program just to give them a voice, but also one that can open them to endless opportunities and career prospects,” Says Ronald about the skills students develop through participation in the program.
Ronald knows from his own experience the potential to turn artistic skills into a profession. “I remember my Fine Art teacher in high school who introduced me to Adobe Photoshop 7.0 because he wanted me to transform my art works to digital form. He showed me color correction tools, filters, and other small things. I guess that was just enough for me to embrace the power of Photoshop and the endless possibilities I can achieve with it as a Fine Arts student.”
Ronald has since built a career as a digital artist. “I started doing petty graphics with Photoshop and later I found myself diving into website design. From that moment in 2006, I’ve never looked back.”
In addition to teaching Adobe Youth Voices students and working as a digital artist, Ronald is also pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at Makere University. In spite of this full schedule, Ronald volunteered as a judge in the Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards, an opportunity he is looking forward to with great excitement.
“To me, being part of the process that honors youth works from around the world is a humbling milestone, considering the fact that I started as a youth artist in the program,” says Ronald. “Being a judge in the Aspire Awards is a chance to not only witness the creativity and skills of the youths in the program, but also learn more about how digital tools can be used to give youth a voice and at the same time enhance the teaching and learning process.”