What did we do this summer?

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Tiyi, [our first participant from France!] now studying at the International School of Asia, Karuizawa in Japan, shares a rundown of all the things she did and learned at ESI this summer. Thanks for bringing all your insights and ideas, Tiyi, and good luck with your future social change projects!

I attended the VIA Exploring Social Innovation program this summer. During this program, I learned so much about me not only by myself but also with the help of the other participants. With their help, I came up with a lot of possible solutions to problems that are overriding in my community. VIA (Volunteers in Asia), is a non-profit, association that began at Stanford. It has been making and connecting with culturally diverse encounters for more than 50 years. Starting in 1963, VIA has sent more than 2000 students from Stanford and young professionals from all over the U.S. to various parts of Asia. Since 1977, VIA has additionally driven more than 5000 students from top Asian colleges on interesting instructive projects at Stanford and around the SF Bay Area. I had the opportunity to visit YouTube, Stanford University, Autodesk Gallery, BAYCAT educational social enterprise, Delancey Street Foundation and SF Impact Hub. Some particular activities were exceedingly beneficial to me. The lifemap was one of them. We were instructed to make a map of our life until now, using a piece of paper and pens. My lifemap was some type of yearly mood chart and it reminded me of a lot of go memories and helped me reflect on when and where I was at my best not only academically but also physically and mentally.

I have to admit that the program exceeded my expectations. It was much less of an individual experience than I thought it would be. Everyone was really open and accepting. It was so inspiring to be around people who were all willing to change and work towards improving themselves and others around them. As an ESI member, I met and shaped friendships with numerous people who I know are headed to improve the world, quite like me. Through workshops, association visits and field excursions to the Silicon Valley, I started to understand what drives and maintains a creative soul and how to have the mind of a true changemaker.

Part of the activities were the V-Talks, which allowed me to reflect on my personal interests and improve my storytelling skills. We also had time amid the night or early morning to spend time with other participants and get to know each other better. A few of us spent it by going to the gym or having dinner together.

I definitely recommend this program to anyone who would like to be more educated in social and environmental change. The point of social innovation is to through exploration and experiential learning, create inventive solutions to complex issues. San Francisco is a city that has many issues such as homelessness. However, there are a plenty of associations and private administrations devoted to helping them and the community in general. I couldn’t find a better location in the US for a program on social innovation.