Fellows in the Field: July Updates

The latest updates from our 2012 summer fellows:

Fellow: Katie Greenman

Hey all!!

I just arrived to Oakland, CA, and am getting increasinglyexcited to begin the on-the ground portion of my Empower project.  With the flexibility of the funding,I’ve restructured the project around my interviews and a workshop and begantoday.

The intention of this fellowship is to develop, and beginimplementing, a workshop for college students that offers tools andperspectives to foster healthy self-expression, effective communication and basicallybringing more joy to the crazy human experience of young adulthood.

The information and tools that will be offered in theprogram stem from research in Social Psychology and Human/Child Development,and, after this trip, will also stem from the work and experience of variousactive professionals in the field.

My California Agenda:

1. The first and most exciting experience, beganthis morning as I started attending a three day workshop entitled “Living theChange” hosted by Challenge Day Founders Rich & Yvonne Dutra St. John (aninternationally acclaimed not-for-profit organization that hosts experientialworkshops to cultivate “a world where every child feels safe, loved andcelebrated.”) Rich & Yvonne host this specific workshop “designed toempower participants with the tools and vision to Be The Change in every areaof their lives”.

2. Following the workshop, I’ll lead a focus group ofyoung people from the Challenge Day community to bounce ideas, hear theirexperience of college and gather suggestions and input for this program.

3. On Monday, I’ll connect with Soul Shoppe FounderVicki Abidesco and employee Jen Ferlito. Soul Shoppe hosts the CollegeLeadership Program that “challenges participants to look at their own personalleadership strengths.”

4.  Afterwards, I look forward to meeting with Ryanand Kristi Joslin, founders of I Be Me workshopat the Grand Performing Arts center in Pleaston, California. There workrevolves around promoting self acceptance through theater arts and Improvactivities.

5.  Lastly, on the formal schedule, I have a meetingwith Alara Castell, known as a “Sassy Spiritual Guide,” who empowers heartbased women entrepreneurs and has offered to consult me on building a financiallysustainable approach to launch this project.

I look forward to offering another update as the project progresses.

Fellow: Colleen Flanagan, Tufts Timmy

¡Hola amigos¡

Just letting you all know that I have safely arrived in Xela (also called Quetzaltenango), Guatemala. I moved in with my host family on Friday night and will be starting work on the biosand water filter project this week. Another member of Timmy Global Health (from Indiana University) has actually made some headway on the project and completed the first water filter as well as established relationships with suppliers, testing facilities, and a new partner  organization on the ground here in Guatemala. The original plan was to construct the filters under the umbrella of Pop Wuj, the Guatemalan organization partnered with TGH, but it became clear that they were ambivalent about taking on another project (Pop Wuj is already runs a school, a medical clinic, along with numerous social work projects). The group we are now working with is named ACAM, a women’s health organization based here in Xela. The first filter, built at ACAM, will be ready for water testing this week, so that will be my first move on the project. I am hoping to build four filters while down here, preferably in family homes, as this is the setting that will be most useful for the communities we work with.

Upon my arrival in Xela, I was informed about some possible problems with the project. The community, called La Victoria, who received the first round of replaceable water filters (from a manufacturer, not biosand filters) have grown quite attached to using them. Pop Wuj has also formed a deal with EcoFiltro, the manufacturer, and seems to be selling them at low prices to members of the community both in Xela and in La Victoria. This presents a few problems, considering the filters have to be replaced every year and, even at a lower price, present yet another financial struggle to families. The biosand filters, however, are capable of lasting 7-10 years and are made relatively cheaply. I am hoping that we can have at least one family in La Victoria accept the biosand filter (perhaps a family that cannot afford the EcoFiltros) so that we can at least have a case study of how well the filter works in this community. In addition, I am hoping that ACAM will aid us in locating other families in the area that will want the filters.

Of course the overall goal is to teach others how to build the biosand filters, but we have to make sure that they 1) work at killing microbial and parasitic agents in the drinking water that cause medical problems 2) can be and are properly used in the setting of a family home 3) increase ingestion of clean water (instead of other substitutes, such as soda) and 5) find out exactly how a family uses them (cooking, washing, drinking, etc). Therefore, it is important that I build the filters and monitor their progress. During this process, I will be working in conjunction with the Timmy member who begun the project to create instructional videos and manuals that we will distribute to community leaders either during the fall or when the Tufts Timmy chapter returns to Xela in January.

Overall, I am optimistic about the success of the project and excited to get started. I hope all of you are safe, happy and experiencing as much success as possible on your projects!

Fellow: David Schwartz, GroupShot

Dear Empower fellows,

Reading all of these updates has been incredible–all of you are up to such fantastic things. Best of luck to everyone still working on his or her projects and the prolific aftermath of publication, monitoring, and evaluation.

I realize there hasn’t been an update from the Impact + Scale trip, a development-by-design research workshop directed by Adam White, founder of Groupshot and Tufts alum. Our project began in the beginning of June, starting in Bangalore and continuing through Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Delhi. The on-the-ground work involved researching and understanding the differences between cultures and conditions, integral, inseparable facts that give breadth and individuality to specific contexts. Our work was particularly interested in how cultures and conditions are subjects of scale, which is why our research focused on four different cities in India. While we saw similarities (e.g. the importance of business in Hyderabad and Bangalore and the importance of tourism in Jaipur and Delhi), the differences were really what defined each area. Religious makeup, languages spoken, and ethnic diversity gave each of these four cities a different space in which we had to work.

Our work was multifaceted as well. Part of our workshop involved researching the implications of introducing the Leveraged Freedom chair (LFC), a wheelchair designed by MIT for rural usage, throughout India. This involved meetings with doctors, government officials, and specialists in each area to understand specific cultural perceptions about wheelchair-bound inhabitants and what their lives are like. Researching the different types of environments, services available, and notions about immobility in different parts of India were essential for the success of this project. One way we did this was by following around one wheelchair user in each city and developing an extensive ethnography afterwards. This combined with our other research and our meetings with a variety of professionals helped Impact+Scale to publish a report for the LFC with advice on how to maximize its impact in its implementation phase and what decisions must be made as it moves out of the prototype.

Another side of our research was problem-focused as opposed to solution-focused. It followed the problem-solving process employed by human-centered design organizations like Ideo. Because Adam had experience designing a social entrepreneurial project for English language education in the past, the group decided to focus on studying the spaces in which spoken English language learning exists in India. Our goal was to conduct extensive research in each city on this topic, and, at the end of the trip, develop an idea for the most impactive English education project. We arranged meetings with students, teachers, tour guides, hotel owners, and business and NGO owners. We went to summer camps, arcades, and parks to understand the multiple manifestations of concepts like “confidence” and “recreation” and “incentivization.” We mapped English interaction spaces, urban instances of English, untapped time blocks in a student’s schedule. We consistently refined our ideas, zooming in and analyzing the fine details and zooming out to more theoretical understandings, pivoting from potential projects that would not be as helpful nor as needed. In the end, we developed the SPoken English Assessment Certificate (SPEAC), a benchmark/assessment program that encourages school youth to practice English with each other and sign up for certifying oral examinations to earn specific “badges.” These scores and certifications will then be sold to telemarketing companies as a service, as 99% of employees in these Indian organizations don’t speak the required level of English. Having a proper benchmark and a more elucidating record for English speaking, these companies will be able to hire with more ease and efficiency, all while providing school youth with a more fun, productive, incentive-oriented system for spoken English language learning.

Our systems-focus on this project played into the last tenet of our research, which was the pure study of social enterprise. We saw and toured the largest telemedicine center in the world, started by Cisco as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. We met with Simpa, a pay-as-you-go solar energy organization, a representative of TOMS shoes, an Affordable Private Schools rating organization… the list goes on.

My experience in India was eye-opening. During that month, I began to see the difference between output and impact, the importance of area-specific nuance, and the incredible opportunity that social enterprise offers for international development. What’s more, though, is I witnessed the full process of ground-up human-centered design of a social venture–a lifecycle which involves pivoting, or observing and adjusting, in order to avoid failure and guarantee some sort of success.

Our work has just begun, though; we’ve been generating deliverables and other publishable outputs like design concepts and problem briefs all summer. I’ll be sure to share them with the Empower community once we’ve finished. Thank you for taking the time to read about our project!

Fellow: Hafsa Anouar

I greet you with a very warm greeting from Morocco. I am enjoying my summer back home after a splendid National Entrepreneurial Camp (NEC)

To be on the same page, I will share with you how did NEC start:

My name is Hafsa Anouar from Morocco. I am a graduate of the African Leadership Academy. Located in Johannesburg, this pan-African school strives to develop the next generation of African leaders. There, I focused on entrepreneurship as the process of identifying needs, and designing and implementing solutions. Eager to engage others in social entrepreneurship, a group of my Moroccan friends and I initiated Rabat Entrepreneurial Challenge (REC), a six-day summer training program that promotes entrepreneurship amongst youths in Morocco. This year REC evolved to a National Entrepreneurial Camp (NEC), which won this year’s Kathryn Davis Peace Prize.

As the Co-Founder of NEC, I have been has been engaged in various steps of making the camp a successful one from pitching the idea to donors, writing proposals, developing the curriculum, contacting guest speakers, and reaching out to entrepreneurs. One of the accomplishments that I am really proud of is signing a partnership with a the largest mining company in Morocco, called OCP to sponsor the camp. I remember the day when Mr.Belafrej, the Director of Sustainable Development in OCP, called me in his office and asked me to pitch the idea to him and at the end of the short meeting we had together. He smiled to me and said; “Well, I guess we should start on the paper work. I am looking forward to working with you” I almost jumped from my seat. Up until now, my parents and my family members cannot believe that I actually met Mr. Belafej and signed a long-term partnership.

Despite the tremendous challenges I and the rest of the team faced in looking for sponsors and guest speakers, designing the curriculum, etc, spending one week with motivated and energetic youth from all around Morocco is an enjoyable experience that made me forget the challenges I passed through and the sacrifices I had to make to develop a great camp. The most rewarding thing about organizing this camp is to witness the development of the youth. When they first come, they are really shy, they do not really talk that much ; but after spending one week in the camp, they are able to speak out, develop their business plans, pitch their ideas confidently in front of the judges and most importantly develop long lasting friendships.

The last day of the camp was the final competition. We had three winners with outstanding projects in various fields: recycling, e-marketing and tourism. The NEC team is currently working on developing a strong follow up system for the final projects to see the lights. Thus, I am still busy working after the NEC and I will always be. But, I really enjoy what I do!!

To conclude, the camp was a blast! I am really proud of all the participants, who showed great interest in learning the fundamental skills of entrepreneurship and knew more about themselves and their communities.

 

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