Workshop 2 Wrap-Up

A few weeks have now passed since those seven amazing days in June when I and a handful of intrepid creative professionals traveled to Guatemala to conduct the second Design4Kids workshop in the village of Santiago Atitlan. For all this time, I’ve felt the pressure that a cogent recap of the event was needed for this blog. Here’s my feeble attempt:

First I want to express my gratitude to Nancy McGirr for the opportunity to work with the talented young people of Fotokids, and for encouraging me to coordinate, promote, arrange, and facilitate these workshops. It is truly a privilege to work with her and her staff, and I am deeply humbled by her belief in us.

Second, I want to thank the volunteers who take time away from their jobs and their families to travel to Guatemala and give of their hearts and their talents to teach what they’re passionate about. They are the heart and soul of Design4Kids, and working with this particular group was an immense pleasure.

Third, I have to thank the kids. Their energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and willingness to reach for their potential is the fuel for the Design4Kids engine. Never in all of my life have I met more respectful, attentive, teenagers, who also had so much talent. They are a real joy, and of course they’re the reason we do what we do.

Ok, so now on to the recap of the workshop. We used most of the key structural elements from the first workshop; most notably building the entire week around a project. As in the first workshop, students acted as a creative agency, while we volunteers acted as their advisors, guides, and teachers. They began with meeting and interviewing an actual client to define the problem to be solved, then embarked on a creative process to develop and produce a first draft solution. On the last day they made a formal presentation of a of their ideas to their client.

This workshop taught me the wisdom of using this approach. Not only does it give us all a nice linear timeline with clear beginning, middle, and end points, it also has an amazing effect on the students. It was revealing to see the growth in self confidence as they interacted with their clients, and especially when their closing presentation was so well received.

Something new in this workshop was to break the kids into two groups and assign each a primary role such as account rep, art director, design director, director of photography, and project manager. They were encouraged to work across functions, but each department head had the responsibility to see that their departments tasks were completed. This approach seemed to promote cooperation between roles and across teams. Everyone seemed to grasp how their piece contributed to the success of the whole and generously joined in a collaborative creative process. Often the kids wanted to work well into the evening on their projects, and that enthusiasm showed in their work.

They ended up producing several logo design options, including a rebuild of the client’s original, all three shown above. They also produced several brochure designs with interesting and inventive folding patterns. Unfortunately they’re harder to show and I don’t have an illustration to do their designs justice.

My main takeaway from this second workshop was a sense of commitment to push forward and not only schedule another, but work hard in the meantime to make the next one better than this one. Not only did I see how it benefits the kids, but I saw there is great potential for greater rewards for the mentors. So, the next workshop is set for December 5th through the 13th. In the meantime I’ve got a bunch of work to do. –jeff

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