Monday, September 18, 2017

Reflection and other good stuff

Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship and IDIN has meant a great deal for me. It is one of the few experiences in my college years where I felt like I was creating impact, and allowed me to do so "long - term" (longer than a semester). The opportunity to continue my team's work during the summer just shows how dedicated the ADE and IDIN team are to my learning. If not for ADE, I would not have learned how to:
  • rent a truck & tow a trailer
  • gather hundred of survey responses
  • write & obtain grants
  • develop & test curriculum with youth
  • build a guitar
  • evaluate social impact
  • communicate among multiple community stakeholders
  • document decisions with video, images, & text
  • manage & measure team progress & health
  • build a business model
  • design, present, & share data
This summer, I was able to:
  • Individually meet with over 20 community members
  • Make 15 diddley bows with 15 students
  • Present at the iRise Educational Conference Conference
  • Host a 3 day STEM camp at Coahoma Community College with 35 1st-6th graders
  • Make 2 electric guitars with 2 (full-time) students
  • Help the team obtain the Tiny Fellowship, $10,000 + year-long mentorship for the pilot program
  • Help the team obtain the Ford Grant ($25,000)
  • Help the team obtain a Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi Grant ($7,000)
  • Support two other partner organizations: Crossroads Cultural Arts Center & Clarksdale's Virtual Reality Center
Not only were the experiences rewarding, the class and the network gave proof that it is possible to do impactful design work without having to compromise my values. ADE carries many parallels to life. The pillars of the class--humility, people, impact, and justice--are also ones I carry in my life. For both, I have to acknowledge and prepare for my impermanence. I know that I will need to leave, so I need to learn how to create net positive impact.

During my last semester, Irene (teammate) and I found a general 'angst' among our team. We were all ping - ponging back and forth between tasks, which left us feeling like we never actually made any progress. Do we focus on developing our business model or applying for grants or branding our program? We were stressed, annoyed, and overworked yet cared so much. Irene and I coined this, "ADE angst" and defined it as the perpetually overwhelming existential crisis experienced by students of the Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship program, caused by a fear that there is so much important work to do and never enough time to get it all done. Which is basically life.

And even though it was rough at time, I am glad for the practice run. Observing my progress and reflecting upon my accomplishments give me hope that I will be able to do good during the rest of my time on this planet.

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