And we’re off! The scholars safely arrived yesterday with only a few luggage losses and we kicked off ThinkImpact University (TIU) last night. I am so excited to welcome the students and begin getting to know them.

You might be wondering what we are doing. Here is the rundown…

TIU runs through Sunday and is scholars’ introduction to the curriculum and Rwandan culture and context.

The Institute is an 8-week program that brings university students to rural Africa to facilitate a design project with local community members. My role is to introduce the curriculum to the scholars and support them through their cultural transition and learning, as well as the design process.

Here is my version of what the 5 phases of the program are all about:

MIND: Exploring new areas to attend to this summer including curiosity, habits, and cross-cultural communication

IMMERSE: Connecting with the community, observing the culture, and learning as much as possible

INSPIRE: An exploratory phase where scholars begin forming design teams with local community members to map assets & opportunities and “pick a path” for their work together

INNOVATE: The phase where the design team really focuses on who their customer is, then prototypes and iterates (again and again and again) … culminates in an exhibition to introduce their products and services to the community and future investors

SHIFT: Work with the design team to ensure they have their continuity plan, transition from community, and identify how to bring our work and learning home

“Mindshift,” then, is the ultimate goal with scholars learning the value of an asset-based framework (as opposed to thinking or development in terms of deficits), community members realizing their capacity (as opposed to thinking of their development as dependent on others), and both gaining a process to pull out creativity and innovation.

Lots to do in the next two months! For now, time to sleep.


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