Nairobi in the eyes of her youth
Some insights that I noticed while facilitating a workshop about “Using Technology to Solve Local Problems” in Nairobi, when you keep it organically driven, the people will naturally follow.
In the day of the workshop we were thinking about how to break the ice in the beginning of the workshop, we came up with some ideas and prepared them. But when we were on our way to the Fablab Nairobi/University of Nairobi, where the workshop was, the traffic jam was really high and we were late.
Then we tried to hack our stress by composing and singing in the street while having the people staring at us. We followed this energy mode by picking up different keywords related to what we are doing, and singing songs on them. This is what gave us the idea to start the workshop by a nontraditional start. We continued with the improvised songs and the participants were composing them by expressing their expectations for the day.
I was not imagining this level of interactivity and initiative from the people. When you allow people to intersect their expectations with things that will surprise them then they will adapt by moving to a wider comfort zone.
After we finished singing we started brainstorming about the most important problems till we identified three main ones; Education & Employment, Slums issues, and Land Pollution. One key element in the brainstorming process was the positive mindset focus. We encouraged the participants from the beginning to think of problems as challenges, and try to understand how they are related.
We noticed how some of them were thinking holistically, others were thinking particularly, some trying to dominate the problems generation, and many various attitudes. After the initial brainstorming phase, they expressed their opinions in teams about local challenges in Nairobi. Education and employment were on the top of the list especially that the participants thought that they are connected to the other challenges.
The last part of the workshop was mainly concerned by inspiring participants to find their voices and feel the sense of community while thinking of technology as a way to create practical solutions to the local challenges.
Through different facilitation approaches, we progressively discovered mentors personalities without directly pushing them. One of my aspirations regarding that, is to empower people in a safe learning environment to nurture their curiosity with DIY projects.
I believe in “let it go, and it will come to you” approach an allowing people to explore by doing and playing. By designing this kind of situations we are empowering them to find their way. It's not an easy task although it sounds like it because the the participants were used to a very formal and vertical way of receiving information(one to many). As mentors we were aiming for a fluid horizontal knowledge sharing and that comes with a lot of practice and preparation work(many to many).
Now that we know that they identified the challenges they just have to solve them. Let’s see what will follow afterwards :)
I am passionate engineer who decided to apply the engineering aspects as a lifestyle. I believe that engineers are responsible about local communities problems solving through innovative collaborative and entrepreneurial applications. My vision is to locate Alexandria on the entrepreneurial world map.