Workshops In Brief
Workshops are a new thing for me. For my undergrad (Civil and Environmental Engineering in the States) we had projects and presentations, but never held workshops. However, being at Aalto has taught me a lot about participating and running one! Through the Sustainable Built Environment course at Aalto University we were a part of them whereas in the Creative Teamwork course we got to hold our own. It is a whole new way of expanding ones knowledge and engaging in a group! The acquired skill set was crucial for our workshop here in the target communities.
Our Workshop Prep
We have been working on the workshop for over a month now. Especially this last week, we have been even spending every last minute debating what questions to ask, the order to ask them, how to engage them, which images to use, time management, etc. You definitely realize how committed you are to a project when it is something that you do even with the little free time you have. (The free time that is referenced, which is in short supply right now with average evenings ending close to midnight and mornings starting at 6am.)
Since coming to Tanzania we have been trying to soak everything in from the sun to all the information about the sanitation situation. As we acquire more information, we adjust our workshop accordingly and today was no different. We have definitely learned the importance of flexibility and working on the fly!
Execution of Our Workshop
Back home as children we would play a game called telephone. Everyone would sit in a circle and one person would start with a phrase and whisper it to the person to the right. This continues until the word reaches the last person, who then says it out loud to see how close to the original phrase it was. During the workshop today, I had a flashback to this game as the workshop was conducted through translators. The individuals would all of a sudden start doing something different from our original intention and then it would take more time to correct the miscommunication because again it would need to be translated. Thus we learned the important lesson of simplifying when utilizing a translator and confirming that the translator fully understands our intention before proceeding to translate.
While sleep deprivation has been weighing pretty hard on our team, we were very excited to finally execute the workshop, really working with and engaging the community. We were able to find out a lot about the community members, their thoughts, their stories, and their will to collaborate. And while working through translators proved difficult, it gave us an important lesson for future workshops of similar nature.