Where Acumen, Balloons and Theatre Come to Play….

Sometimes when you are in a fellowship like Acumen, you are thinking "Oh great, I am going to learn how to do a business plan, develop one, learn the basics around project management," etc. However, the approach is what is interesting; it's not your usual sit and listen. 

In the first workshop, we spent 5 days practicing our elevator pitches, engaging in design-thinking activities led by IDEO, presenting our life maps, and writing letters to ourselves. We shall open this one day to see whether we have become those people we hoped to be in the letters. I know people dying to read my letter. Duh! It's mine.

One interesting exercise was the balloon blowing, in which each of us had to pick a balloon and write on it their possible distractions from concentrating on the workshop. The idea was that after putting them down, we will then burst the balloon, as a sign that we have let go of those distractions. It was funny; we all had a moment where we held onto our distractions and we did not want to let go. It's not because we did not want to be at the workshop, but it's because these are things that define our daily lives, they are who we are and if we let them go, then we stop being who we are. But, we had to do so to be able to fully learn from the workshop. Learn we did!

The second seminar was even better. First, we were expected do some immense reading on ‘society reading’, and with Jacqueline Novogratz herself as moderator, some of the regions’ great minds (my East African fellows) unleashed in heated discussion.  To crown the week, we spent time with the Acumen Global Fellows on learning the art of communication from theatre experts and playing games. We learned of level 1-3 voices.

Julian (bottom left) with her East Africa Acumen Fellows engage in an IDEO design-thinking workshop.

Guess what is the next activity of the fellowship program? It features a trip to any one of the countries in the region, and OF COURSE, or at least as you might expect, Rwanda is the case study on May 27th and my EA colleagues will be here in Rwanda! That's not all what is left of the program; there's one more workshop and an innovations conference.

Oh, my favourite parts are the phone basket, where we keep all our electronics so we do not get distracted, and the week's supply of snacks that is over by day one.

Julian, SHE COO, Rwanda

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