Tech entrepreneurs of the world unite! Last Friday, TechChange was proud to present on a short panel for The Tunisia Community College Scholarship Program (TCCSP) at the 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, MD. The Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program, TCCSP “builds the workforce capacity of a diverse group of Tunisian students in technical fields through US-based training and practical experience in their professional fields through academic study, community engagement activities, and internships.”
TechChange has participated in similar student programs with TechGirls for #JobShadow day and IREX’s Global UGRAD-Pakistan program, but we found this topic particularly urgent given the continuing youth unemployment crisis in Tunisia. However, while the specific panel topic was “Journeys to Global Citizenship and Professional Success,” but the best part of the event was listening to the students pitch their ideas and professional goals during a poster session on “My Professional Self-Portrait.”
While walking around and chatting with the students, three lessons stood out:
1) Combine tech, design, and entrepreneurship
There was one moment while walking around where I saw three “Professional Self-Portraits” next to each other. The first was for graphic design, the second for network engineers, and the third was for starting a small business for IT solutions.
2) Pitch your ideas, but listen more
Turns out the idea of starting a business wasn’t unique! During the panel, I asked the audience to raise their hand if they intended to start a business someday. About half of the hands went up. But more impressive than those starting a business were those who took time in the event to connect.
3) Networking is key
A funny thing happened when I started talking to the three students mentioned earlier — they started to listen and talk to one another. Given that successful startups often require two or three founders with synergistic–not overlapping–skill sets, this gives me hope that the relationships will continue after the students leave DC.
If some of these lessons seem familiar, well, they’re pretty much spot-on for what the industry professionals came up during #EdTech for the last Tech@State. Thanks again to IREX for hosting us last week — we’re proud to take part and excited to see where this program goes next!
Photo credit: Images taken and provided by IREX.
The release of the South Sudan Ushahidi map has spurred an online dialogue on the possibilities and challenges of how we understand crowdsourcing, big data, and technology for conflict management and peacebuilding. A series of blog posts from Chris Neu of TechChange, Daniel Solomon, and myself highlighted these issues, which I wanted to combine with brief descriptions because I think they’re an interesting series for those grappling with how we make use of emerging data and technology tools in pursuit of peace and stability. It’s worth giving all four a read, since they represent a nice arc of thinking about big data for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
- Can a Crisis Map End the Crisis in South Sudan? by Chris Neu. This was the first post about the South Sudan Ushahidi map that got the chain of posts started. Greg Maly had advocated getting a map up as the situation in South Sudan began deteriorating, so with the help of Rob Baker, a deployment was launched. After the map was live, comments came back in – a number were constructively critical and thought provoking. The key points were focused on the utility of the data that could realistically be provided.
- Two Tweets Reveal Central Problem for South Sudan Crisis Map by Chris Neu. Chris’ following post brought up the important issue of ethics when using data submitted by individuals in such a chaotic environment. “Is it ethical to restrict information to the public? Is it ethical to reveal information about the vulnerable?” Both questions are valid, but the one that gained some traction focused on the data we expect to get from conflict zones.
- The Murky Swamp of Mass Atrocity Data by Daniel Solomon. Up to this point this online discussion had focused on the map and software, so Daniel Solomon took the conversation and framed it in the context of conflict itself. He outlined a set of important issues about how conflict affects data, and thus how our efforts to crowdsource and use big data could actually lead to greater confusion instead of clarity.
- Finding Big Data’s Place in Conflict Analysis by Charles Martin-Shields. Daniel Solomon’s post inspired me to think through the methodological challenges of using Big Data for conflict analysis. The two posts got some good traction and discussion going, which is always exciting.
I wanted to pull all four posts together in one place since I found them to be useful individually, and interesting as a whole. They also provide an arc of event, critique, and potential solutions that are useful when practitioners are trying to decide how and when to use crowdsourcing or Big Data in their conflict analysis and resolution work.
Interested in this topic? Want to join the conversation and learn more? Enroll today in our Technology for Conflict Management and Peacebuilding online course to learn more about digital mapping, social media, mobile platforms, and other technologies for promoting peace.