PRODUCT MANAGER, ROMANIA
I had several reasons to join the Social Innovation Relay (SIR) as a volunteer. Firstly, I was curious to find out the students’ ideas to tackle some social problems. Secondly, there was the desire to get in touch with this new generation. To understand how they think, how they react in various different situations and to see if they really want to make a change. Lastly, but not least, it was a way for me to remember my high school years. When I was in high school, we too had the energy to generate ideas and the wish to change the world. Yet at the time, I failed to convince others that my ideas were valuable, were “worth it”. Now I know how to convince others and I wanted to share my knowledge and experiences with the teen students. This way I could give them the help I never had.
It is also very important to me that educational programs and businesses work together. It helps to ensure a healthy growth. Both sides win from this. Students need to understand the reality of doing business and learn, in order to enhance, the best practices that the business environment provides. Businesses from their side gain a huge opportunity to get fresh and up-to-date ideas and solutions for old unresolved problems. To me, entrepreneurship skills are very valuable to Romanian youngsters. Because for many years we in Romania used our “force” to get things done. We were hard working, but stubborn. We rarely used our intelligence to improve our way of doing things, to change, to be innovative. Today, Romanian children are born in a free spirit environment and they must be encouraged to use their entrepreneurship skills both as employees, freelancers or entrepreneurs.
I really enjoyed working with the students. They all had a great energy, were highly motivated (more than I expected to be honest) and they had a brilliant idea. I will surely remember for a long time, a hot afternoon, one day before the international competition. Here we spent 4 to 5 hours writing, re-writing, reading and testing the presentation speech. They were tired, but we only stopped this workshop after the speech was perfect. I think I learned as much things from them as they learned from me.
I learned about some technical things such as hashtags, skype and google docs, but also on how to receive feedback in a positive way, how to share, based on personal competences, responsibilities and tasks in a group and how to handle a debate related to ideas (learning to judge the idea not the person). I was sad to miss out on the “deadline tension” and the end discussion with the team. Still I was optimistic for their future.
To everyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer, I would say: “Give it a try, and do your best”! As I said both sides benefit from this and, for your personal pride, if one of your mentored ideas will be implemented nationally or globally, you will be able to say: “I have been a part of this, I helped that team develop their idea”.