Workshop 2.0: news from Nepal

 By Savas, Deren and Ina


The second Youcom workshop was held over two days, on the 29th and 30th of April, at the Tude offices. For this workshop we wanted to limit the number of participants, in order to create warmer, more casual interactions. To this end only 12 participants were selected after the open call. By the time 11 o’clock rolled up on the first day, only 7 young people had actually showed up. This was somewhat disappointing at first, but actually turned out to be a good thing, as we got to know each other much better and the atmosphere was more relaxed and jovial.

The workshop started with an introduction game facilitated by Romanian volunteer Dragos. The game involved people pairing off and learning things about each other for 4 minutes, then each one going in front and introducing their partner as if they were introducing themselves. This proved to be a far more effective introduction than the one from the first workshop, because connections were created immediately and built on throughout the workshop days.

We continued with a group work exercise, facilitated by volunteers Ina and Sanjay, where participants in two groups picked a topic and created a presentation on said topic. The topics were picked blindly and were relevant to Youcom’s area of interest. Participants were given pens and paper, and were encouraged to use their knowledge and creativity. Each group presented their topic up front, and the floor was opened to discussions after each presentation. Introducing this type of exercise encouraged participants to think about why they were there and got them in the spirit of the workshop, which involves coming up with sustainable solutions to the critical issue of waste management.

This enabled us to seamlessly blend into the next activity, which was facilitated by Ms. Sagarika Bhatta, and involved a practical training on how to reuse paper. Participants learned how to make pen holders out of newspaper spokes, as well as how to make gift bags out of newspaper. Because some of the participants in the first workshop had struggled with the level of difficulty, we decided to change things up for this workshop, and chose simpler techniques. And since there were less people, four of our volunteers could work alongside the participants, teaching by example. At the end of the day the best products were awarded small prizes. Participants were told about this from the beginning, and more attention to details was noticeable compared to the first workshop.

At 2 pm we had a lunch break, with local foods like samosa, jeri and pakoda. After lunch, Turkish volunteer Deren facilitated the Skiing in Summer energizer. This was a rousing success last time, so we decided to keep it for this workshop also. It proved to be a success this time too, as everyone laughed a lot and enjoyed themselves.

The workshop continued with a paper recycling activity, facilitated by volunteers Dragos and Deren. They taught participants how to recycle paper, by grinding it up and soaking it in water, then using a fine sieve to shape the resulting pulp, which was then carefully placed to dry on cloth, until the next day. The first workshop day ended with the award ‘ceremony’ for the best products, and may promises of “see you tomorrow”.

Promises which were kept, since all 7 participants were present and eager to learn the next day. The second day of the workshop started with a short story exercise facilitated by Turkish volunteer Savas, where he gave a word related to the workshop’s topic, and asked participants to each give their own word. The words were written on the whiteboard. Participants created groups of four, and each group chose 4 words from the whiteboard. Then they had to made up a story using those words, and share it with everyone. This was a good exercise to keep them engaged with the topic of the workshop.

It was followed by a practical training facilitated by Ms. Bhatta, on plastic reuse. Participants learned how to make small mats out of old plastic bags and string. This day also, four of our volunteers worked along with the participants helping them until they understood the technique. Because weaving those mats involves a lot of doing the same thing over and over again, we decided to break the monotony and keep spirits high, by playing a brain teaser game while we worked.

We then took a break for lunch, after which volunteer Dragos facilitated the Human Knot exercise, which had us randomly holding hands and working together to untangle ourselves without letting go. We almost made it, but the last three people proved to have far too strong a connection.

The next activity was again facilitated by Ms. Bhatta, who taught participants how to reuse plastic bottles to make cute, colourful gift boxes. This involves cutting the bottles in half and using paper to make a base and a lid. The best products of the day were again given small prizes, only this time the participants themselves voted for the best one.

Before the award ‘ceremony’, a feedback session was facilitated by Megha, in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Participants were asked their opinions on the workshop, what they did and didn’t like, what they found most useful, and so on. The response was mostly positive, other than the cramped space and the too short timeframe, everyone said they found the lessons useful and would like to learn how to make even more things. One participant in particular was very happy to learn how to make the plastic mats, because she was looking for solutions to the plastic bag problem in her own home. Some of the participants even expressed interest in joining future Youcom workshops. All in all it was a successful workshop, though of course there is always room for improvement, and we intend to make the next one even better.