For the last two days before our final school visits, we spent time as a team working on rounding off the career sessions with Jumai and doing a debrief together.
On Tuesday morning, Ellen led discussions about the team’s impression of the project, and suggestions they would offer for its long-term progression. We split the feedback into three sections:
1. What did we like about the project?
2. What do you think is the impact of the project?
3. What aspects of this work would you want to carry into the future?
Thankfully, all of our activities were mentioned as being positively received, particularly the newly introduced industrial visits and CV clinics. The team were generally pleased with being able to help schoolpupils and have a positive impact of the lives of the next generation in their country. The benefits of working within a multicultural team were also appreciated and we were happy that our differences had enhanced the learning experience for everyone. For the high school team too, they had enjoyed learning about many different subjects that they had not previously known much about, helping them make their own career decisions at a crucial stage.
On a more general level, the team felt increased self-confidence and creativity skills.
Further work highlighted was mainly the importance of the career guidance that our project was offering, and the gathering of people together in clubs within universities and schools. However although they enjoyed the engineering focus, a more holistic STEM/Architecture theme to their workshops was preferred. In addition, paying more attention to schools in rural areas was considered a priority – this is something we are particularly happy about, as we know that in villages this type of work is much more impactful. However, we are also aware that if we were to be involved in going further out the city, the actual content of our workshops may be lost in the novelty of a visit from “muzungus”. We gave the Rwandan team members some pointers about bringing together their thoughts and plans into a real working society.
Unlike the previous sessions that focused on the Rwandan team, our final career session with Jumai involved the whole team. We started out with a TED talk on Patient Capitalism by Jacqueline Novogratz. Jacqueline had a lot to say on how dignity is brought on people through entrepreneurship and patient capital. This fitted nicely with the entrepreneurship ‘homework’ the girls had to do.
Each member of our Rwandan team had spent about 4 days thinking about a business idea that solves practical problems around them. This was to actively engage them in critical thinking and conscious observation as well as to spark their entrepreneurial spirits. They presented fascinating business ideas ranging from the production of reinforced building materials for rural areas to engaging the language barriers in Rwanda by producing language services.
After about 14 interesting business ideas, we rounded up by listening to some of the girls read out their reflective diaries. Last week we considered the University of Glasgow graduate attributes, one of which is to be a ‘reflective learner’. So the Rwandan team agreed to prepare two reflective diaries, one on the whole programme and one on the career sessions. These reflective diaries made us all quite emotional as the girls spoke about the skills they had built, their cross cultural experiences, challenges faced and how empowered they feel about being able to inspire the next generation in providing information and opportunities they didn’t have access to.
We concluded the session by going through all the slides from the beginning of the career sessions and recapping all we had learnt and shared.
Having already discussed their future plans for the FemEng work amongst themselves over the past weeks, by the end of the two days a full committee had been established, and the key activities of the group were decided. This gives them a great basis on which to present themselves at our celebratory reception on Friday morning, hosted by the UR Vice-Chancellor Phil Cotton.