Monday, July 7, 2008

D Day (-7) - Building towards a better future

Apologies for the break in the blog for the last few days. We broke for the holiday weekend and were given the chance to experience the respective delights of Maine, New York, Connecticut and the fireworks on the Charles River. But rest assured, the blog will now be updated every evening until the participants return back to their home countries after what we hope will have been an extremely productive and inspiring four weeks.

We met last night and again this morning to work out how close we were to completing some objectives and to see what needed to take priority this week. We seem to be well on course towards having everything ready by the time the participants arrive in Boston next weekend but we will have more than enough to keep us busy until then!

One main difference between the 07 conference and this years will be the increased focus on "learning through doing". We spent the meeting this morning discussing the various "Build-it" modules that we were planning for the weekend of the 26th July. We plan to have an entire day devoted to teaching the participants specific skills that they can hopefully then implement in their work when they return home. The workshops on offer at the moment include those designed to help participants to make pedal powered generators, peanut shellers and bio digesters. The organizers have each been assigned two out of the eight possible options and will learn how to build these later in the week. The participants will then have a chance to choose which workshops they feel will be of most use to them on the day.

Our focus then shifted to working out the details of our first ice breaker and design activity. This is an activity that we are carrying over from last year's conference whereby the participants are split into teams and must then build a simple device within a specific time constraint to accomplish a certain goal. In order for them to succeed they must learn to work together with people they will have only just met! We are attempting to focus this year on making sure that everyone withing these teams has a specific role so that everyone gets involved and we are also trying to take into account the language barrier difficulty that will face a number of the participants who will not have English as their first language. Looks set to be a lot of fun though!

Given how close we are to the beginning of the conference it was amusing that some of us met today to discuss the closing ceremony for participants on the 8th August! Amy had run through the schedule at the meeting and when she finished by mentioning that the participants would be flying home on the 9th of August she was greeted with a collective sigh of regret. Laura highlighted the hilarity of this situation by exclaiming "We don't even know them yet!". I think at the same time it also encapsulates just how eager we all are for the participants to arrive and if the past participant organizers are anything to go by I personally cannot wait.

In the morning we will meet at 9am to finally decide on which projects to present to the participants as their final options. We started out with over eighty potential projects put forward by participants, organizers, community partners and outside organizations but tomorrow we will be picking the final fifteen. Tombo sent out one e-mail with the completed list telling people to "fight for your project!" so I'm hoping that there will be some pretty heated discussion! Will report further tomorrow...

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