Module 1: Finished in a month, Impact- forever

As I lament the end of the first module, I realized it was beneficial to me on so many levels.
When I first started, I was intimidated because I didn’t think of myself as a creative individual; but bit by bit I discovered a lot more than I expected about myself and others.

It was of personal benefit to me because I tend to notice problems very quickly (and noticing problems makes you have an urge to fix them), and even though many people told me that this isn’t a particularly good trait, I discovered here, that the more “problemtunities” you have, the better. I acquired many skills too. Not only did I realize that all problems can be fixed, but also that you need to do that within the milestones and deadlines.
I was drawn into the structure of the human centered design because, I realized that to help people, you don’t always need to compromise much. The helper and the “helpee” will both benefit one way or another and every one can be happy!

The most enjoyable task in HCD is empathy and getting to know people. I think it’s fascinating the amount of information you can know by looking, by observing and by actually speaking to the people you intend to help. People feel valued when they feel you’re doing everything you can to help them, and that you’re giving your time and effort to know what they actually need. The most challenging task, and that needs a lot of practice from me is making connections between the ideas that I’ve came up with.

Challenge 2, where we had to reinvent and redesign Giza Zoo, was extremely exciting for me. I remember starting with 170 ideas on my own when the challenge was first assigned.That’s how excited I was. And although many of the ideas still need to be elaborated and developed, I’m hoping someday we could implement it or anything like it, (maybe as part of the course?) to make Zoo one of Egypt’s and the world’s landmarks.

I’ve also experienced working with teams, and overall I’d say I enjoyed it and learned a lot about real life group work from it. It was another way to learn how to overcome being judgmental when discussing a large variety of solutions of the same problems. So I’ve become more accepting and contributing when it comes to working with others.

Then there’s utilizing resources, doing things with passion and confidently approaching challenges without fear of failure, and these are qualities that developed and grew with the in class assignments and discussions, the readings and the videos we watched throughout the module.
I especially loved this video and this video.

Using everything I learned in this module, I’m currently working with my cousins on a project to change the idea of bicycles in people’s minds and persuade them to make it one of the main transport vehicles in Egypt.
(Contact me if you’re interested in joining or stay tuned here to read about all the updates)

Lastly, these articles were quite interesting and relate to the theme of this module:

Creative environments

Creativity Boosters!




Intentions are key

Before you read this, think why will I read this? Why do I want to? Before you start on a project or participate in one, ask yourself what do you aim to achieve? What is your driving passion? What pushes you?
These questions are essential before you begin anything. And from this (Creativity and problem solving) course, I realize that human centered design almost guarantees the success of any project. So, if you’re aiming to make the life of a group of people better, make sure you come up with a product or service that they exactly need. This is , I’m hoping, where NGOs and businesses should be heading.

And this is what I hope everyone’s should be thinking. How can we provoke change and make people’s lives better? There are many “problemtunities” out there, and the one I’ve been wanting to tackle for ages, is education. And although it might sound a bit rash, but ever since I started brainstorming solutions for this problem back in my high school years, I’ve been seeking radical change.

I also had a misconception that was only corrected through experiencing this course. That misconception was: teamwork is ineffective.
In fact, it’s not. And most people who have accomplished something for their community have done it with a group. With a (efficient, passionate) group, there’re more ideas, more solutions, more effectiveness, and more needs that will be fulfilled.

One of my favourite success stories, is the story of Noura Galal , a Literature major graduate and a passionate fashion designer, who was inspired by a community to start her own clothing industry, Rafeya, targeted at a certain sector of women. Then the women can actually produce their own clothing and get a certain share. More here .

Noura clearly knows what she wants and everything she does revolves around her main aim. To make women feel more confident, and earn along with her own passion for fashion design that she put to use.
I’ve tried to personally contact her, to know more about how she got started and her story. Nevertheless, I was drawn to her idea, because not many people give attention to clothing, and neglect its importance in a woman’s life.

She also collaborates with other women who have similar interests, like PS accessories and M’NA accessories, and this just confirms that you can’t work alone.

“If you want to resist, if you want to create change, you can’t do it through political parties, the courts or through a corporatized media. You must step outside the system and create popular mechanisms, mass movements that will put pressure in a cruder way on the centers of power.”
— Chris Hedges, ‘The Pathology of the Rich’



Don’t set your mind!

adventuresI suppose the way we see ourselves shapes our attitude and the way we come up with creative thoughts. I went through a phase in my life, where I was so into personality tests and knowing about my own character that I almost defined myself the way, the test results did. Then I watched this and read this article and realized a lot about the dynamics of character. And when I looked back at my life, I realized how true this was, my tastes, interests and so many things have developed with time. But I’m saying this now after I started believing that I can self-improve.
Self-improvement, however, comes only through trial and error. Academically, it took me a lot to realize that it’s okay to not Ace every single subject/course. Instead I should be more focused on trying and on improving my attempts with each trial, not caring about people think of me at any point.
Also, the way our parents and schools support us is important because -like many cultures- if we are fed at an early age that failure isn’t acceptable, we might grow into youth or adults that fear failure and can’t pull themselves up after an unsuccessful experience. Instead children should be praised for trying so that they’re motivated to work harder.

I must also admit that, I am fixed minded when dealing with a few things. Using the article as a scale, I do sometimes dwell on past failures and feel down when thinking of them. Sometimes, before an exam, I tell myself, “Don’t blow it, Ayah.”
When really I should be telling myself something like, “Do your best.”

Challenges, for me, are intimidating, but I do face them with a light of positivity, and eagerness to get something out of the experience. And what really caught my attention was this,  “Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

So this refined my, “Anyone can do anything” idea. Because yes, we do have capabilities, but we could work on developing them and gain so much potential, in the process.

What to focus on is, therefore, very important. More is achieved, when the main goal is to learn, acquire, develop, improve; not to label yourself as smart or talented, but as passionate and persistent.

Back in school, my best friend was Indian. I was visiting her place once and noticed how cold her parents were in treating her, and her room was stacked with books from all corners. Later I found out that her parents, absolutely abandon her when she scores less than an A-, and so she has to study day and night to avoid that. Yes, she was hardworking, but she was under so much stress. I could only imagine how she would feel if she didn’t score well. The poor creature wasn’t getting any support from home, and that made her own goals so limiting.

So environment, beliefs, attitudes and willingness all shape our life-learning experience.