Written by: Mary Wilson

I am a member of the engineering community and the African American Community. Some of the issues within those communities involve lack of diversity and lack of awareness respectively. The course of this program has taught me a lot about myself and the way I see that these issues can be tackled within my community. The articles provided to me, sites visited, and people I met, helped me to realize that I can be the one to bring change in my community. In some of our classes we discussed things like design thinking, empathy, and building social capital.

“Take a walk in someone else’s shoes.” This phrase is quite famous and it is what empathy is all about. How can I truly help someone if I don’t understand there issue. When solving problems it’s important to empathize with those that will be affected my the solution to understand their needs. When looking at both communities I need have to have a clear understanding of what they both need, so I can find a way to solve their pressing issues.

Design Thinking has three components: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. If design thinking starts with inspiration, how does one get inspired. We read articles in class by Sherman and Bornstein about social entrepreneurship. In Sherman’s article he mentioned “Moment of Obligation”, and Bornstein mentioned “Citizen Sector”. A moment of obligation refers to something stirs inside someone that sparks them to make a change, and citizen sector is talking about taking upon yourself to make a change rather than waiting on some other entity like the government to do something. With these two concepts in mind, you can get inspired to do something and take action. You feel moved to do something, and you also realize that you can be the one to take action. I haven’t yet come up with an idea with how to fix the problem within my communities, but realizing that there needs to be a change is half the battle. After I come up with an idea, I’ll be able to implement it.

We learned a lot about improving social capital throughout this trip. I can can start to expand my network within both communities. This will also require me and my network to establish a set of norms. It’s almost like a set of expectations we have for one another. This enables us to build trust. Once I’ve gained the trust of both communities, I can start to experiment with my ideas from design thinking. Everything is tied together.

I didn’t know what to expect when I came into this program, but I can honestly say that it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Before this program, I didn’t think that I was adequate enough to make an impact on the world. I know now that is not the case. There were so many inspiring speakers like Klaudia and Stefan that taught me that passion is the real drive towards success. It doesn’t matter if I know everything. As long as I’m passionate about what I doing, nothing can hold me back. I look now not just to be a citizen within my local community but to move towards the outer circle and become a citizen globally.

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