Few months ago things weren’t as I planned… I was feeling like putting my studies on hold, because of financial constraints for my research. And then…, Boom!!! the PAPSSN Masters Crediting seeking mobility scholarship appeared with a three-day application deadline remaining. But let me start from the beginning…

My names are Mazuba M Kumwenda from Zambia. I am a student at The Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe doing MSc Physics (Cosmology). I started my MSc program on a self-sponsorship basis in August 2020. Throughout the years, I had financial challenges not knowing how to pay my tuition fees. But motivation and passion were driving me. I never gave up. Around July 2021 I wrote the exams in which I hard exceptional results.

Looking backward there were hardship and sacrifice. The main challenge ahead was now to finance my research project, which at that particular moment I could not manage. I don’t have to be the one telling you how hard is to source funds for graduate research in Africa.

And with this we arrive at the 3-day deadline…

While I was looking for funds to pay for my research project with the help of my supervisor Dr. Simpemba P (from home institution CBU), I came across the PanAfrican Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) masters credit seeking program. A mobility project which is funded by the Intra-Africa Mobility Scheme of the Education Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission of the European Union. With only three days remaining before the application due date, I applied at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) to do research in Cosmology, with a little hope of being picked as the application clearly started that only one candidate would be selected for the position from Zambia. I poured my soul in that application, I knew I did my best to shine as an MSc student, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

Few months later, I received an email about my application having been successful. Filled with joy and happiness I immediately started preparing all the necessary documents for travelling (not easy in this pandemic era). Since the scholarship is fully funded, they provided for insurance tuition fees, and the return air tickets. I was supposed to travel on 2nd November 2021.

I must say this was a wonderful experience to me as it was my first time ever to board on a plane. I arrived in Gaborone the same day in the evening. The following morning, I was driven to Palapye (where BIUST is located) where I met with the project coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi, my supervisor Dr. Adams Duniya (from host institution BIUST) and other Staff members.

I was given a familiarization tour by one of the postgrad students (thank you Karabo!) around BIUST campus a splendid newly built campus with cutting-edge facilities. Within a few weeks I was able to adapt to the change of environment. With the help from the staff at BIUST I was able to register as a student and then right away started working on my project.

I have been fortunate enough to get all the exposure and experience through this same project, in this regard I would like to thank all the people who are behind this mobility project and I wish they continue to reach-out to many more students in this manner.