At the end of February this year, Spark+Mettle delivered the first of 12 interactive workshops for the Taqaddam programme. The workshops were split over two days, which my colleague Hannah and I delivered to over 100 teenagers each day. We took the young people on an experiential learning journey, focused on character strengths, soft skills and the growth mindset.
Before the trip there were some worries about how the students would react to unfamiliar terms, to new ways of learning and to working with new people. After spending the first half of the morning preparing the young people to try new things; talking about being brave enough to fail and learn from our failures, the students opened up to these new ways of working. They seemed more comfortable sharing and collaborating with the new folk they’d met just a couple of hours earlier.
We faced some significant challenges when attempting to share new concepts with a large group of young people. We really pushed the students—not only were they doing new things and talking about their feelings, but they were in a new environment and working with other students and facilitators that they had never met before. We wanted people to know that even though they were probably feeling out of their comfort zone, they were totally supported.
Personally, my highlight of the workshops was seeing the students sharing and showcasing their ideas. It was interesting that so few young people believed they were creative before our Creative Innovator workshop. As the session developed, the majority of them were coming up with brilliant ideas. They challenged the close-minded ideals that they face in their society today. Issues around racism, closed networks of privilege and gender equality were all raised in the groups. Bahrain is a very open society but still has patriarchal elements; it was inspiring to hear the girls describing themselves as feminists and watching them come up with ideas to show others how it feels to be on the receiving end of discrimination.
Written by Lewis Greener