Sustainability is a key-term here at Kathmandu Living Labs. When we talk about sustainability, we are concerned not only with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is indeed a major focus of our work, but with the idea of longevity of all our projects beyond our involvement. Every project that we embark upon is a research activity, with the aim of producing tangible and transferable impact and learnings. With this goal, we had devised DIAL – Digital Internship and Leadership.
DIAL is a platform that encourages, empowers and engages Nepali citizens, particularly youth, willing to contribute their skills for digital development of Nepal. To enable that, the participants received rigorous training on a wide range of digital tools with emphasis on OpenStreetMap (OSM). In addition, they also received mentorship on career and leadership development from a group of national and international experts. The Orientation was spread over four days to accommodate the wide range of learning tools that we had in store for them.
The first day of the orientation was designed to gradually ease the participants into understanding DIAL and the importance it holds in equipping them to solve emerging social, technological, economic and environmental challenges. In order to break the ice among the participants, as well as with the organizers, we had organized a networking session in the morning where everyone socialized over tea and cookies. Then, Dr. Nama Budhathoki, Executive Director of KLL welcomed the participants with a short motivational talk. He emphasized that our country is riddled with many small and manageable but significant problems. This creates the possibility of societal transformation when even small actions of small groups of people come together. Furthermore, Pradip Khatiwada, Coordinator of Digital Volunteers and Partnership Development and one of the organizers of the program spoke on the motivation behind and expectations from the DIAL program.
Then, Sazal Sthapit, Projects Manager of KLL introduced the culture of KLL. He spoke about how we at KLL are engaged in solving impossible challenges with local focus and global orientation, while at the same time engaging in our passion and having fun. The intent of the talk was to acquaint the young interns with the idea that workplaces need not adhere to a traditional setting for enhanced productivity.
In order to truly value digital mapping, it was important that the interns contrast it to traditional forms of mapping. We did this by means of a fun exercise where the participants made a map of the route from their home to the orientation venue and then exchanged maps among each other. Each participant was then asked to explain the map drawn by the person whose map they received – which served the dual purpose of introducing the participants to each other in a unique way and also driving home the point that maps are made from the vantage point of users and not makers. What was even more interesting was that the interns themselves identified the issues with traditional map drawing, which set the stage for introducing OpenStreetMap. OSM was introduced by Manoj Thapa, veteran mapper and mapping trainer based at KLL.
After lunch, the participants were engaged in a refreshing energizer with takeaways on overcoming challenges to communication while working as a team. The participants were divided into two groups and asked to follow different sets of confusing instructions, setting the path to discuss and reflect on the importance of effective communication.
Then, the enthused interns “got their hands dirty” – they created accounts with OpenStreetMap and started learning how to map with iD Editor with help from Manoj. As it was their first experience of mapping for most of the participants, Manoj took his time and gradually explained the different tenets of mapping.
After everyone spent some time familiarizing themselves with the tools, the program for the first day ended with a reflection session. All the participants used a connector, “yes, and/no,but” to describe their learning from the day. The participants enjoyed learning about KLL and working with maps. They expressed their enthusiasm on learning as much as they can throughout the orientation, more so because they had fun while learning and were motivated by passionate doers at KLL.
Stay tuned for Day 2 blog!