Last month in April 2016 I travelled to the lovely capital Tunis of Tunisia to conduct a 4 hour workshop with youth club, ATDCI-Tunisia with participants aged 16-22.

We explored ways of looking at the current challenges through the design lens. First identifying them on the daily news, building conversations around opportunities for design improvement, understanding user needs and working in teams to create systems to solve real problems.

We started with a game which allowed each participant to warm up with their teams. 6 students in each 6 tables, each picked an animal and a everyday object which they need to design for. You can find the game I designed here and feel free to play it with your teams.

Workshop plan followed as we wrapped up the game and each team picked up 3 different national and local newspaper of the day amongst El Sabah, La Presse, Le Temps, El Sarih, El Chourouk, El Akhbar and Ettounisia. Staying in the same groups, each team has been given a headline: ‘Social, Economical, Ecological, Cultural’ and asked to find a fitting national problem within the news which sits under one of these categories.

We hang the 4 categories up on the walls of the room and each team cut down the articles they found under the headlines. They have then discussed which of these problems they feel more connected to and they find value in creating solutions for.

Students then went onto personifications of people who might be most affected by this problem. For example one team chosen a ecological disaster caused by a plastics company on North Tunisia through the eyes of a villager who is been living in the countryside by the factory. Another team chosen terrorism and decided to explore the affects on the artisans and shopkeepers through the eyes of a wife of a tradesmen. Teams built up their personas through writing a story around the character, making a storyboard or simply drawing a picture of the person.

Lastly teams started brainstorming on the possible solutions to the problems and modelling their design solutions in clay, paper and pen and in writing. We didn’t have the time to go out and do field trip and a working prototype as this was a one-day workshop, this was a bit of a taster of what is to come this September. However it was a good experience for me and get to know the audience before planning for a longer 3-4 weeks workshop.

I received good feedback particularly from the older participants. They said that they have enjoyed the activities, engaged in the causes and would like to develop these ideas further into the future.

Few learnings from the workshop:

  • Possibly less students in a class. 36 students in class made it chaotic for me to facilitate. Next workshop will be limited to 16 people. Also with a smaller age gap, with participants 19 or older.
  • Not all students were comfortable with drawing. There were many who study dance and theatre and would feel much more expressive if they used the medium of acting, dancing or singing part of their creative expression.
  • Many students came up to me requesting the workshop which can be expanded in a longer period which is great news! Few came up and said they have realised how less they knew about the ongoing national issues and the possibility of them taking active part in it.
  • Unlike I would assume so, language was not a big problem. We ran the workshop both in French and in Arabic. Mohamed and Marwen, 2 recent college graduates were helping me with the facilitation and translation. For having explained them the flow earlier helped them to understand the process and therefore they felt confident first point of contact where I stayed slightly behind the scene and let the workshop unleash.

 

My thanks to Asma Cherifi, Marwen Kooli Mohamed Ghassen Boudriga for their help. Photography by Somai Anouar