We started the first day of our field trip with a meeting in a café nearby the guesthouse we were staying. Elias’ flight would not arrive before evening but the rest of us would have a workshop with three AITM students who would join our team to visit the first case site from the next day until Saturday. In addition, a couple of faculty members would be present in the workshop and we wanted to be well prepared.
We had agreed to meet at AITM campus at one in the afternoon and during the intensive planning the minutes flew by fast. After preparing a structure for each part of the workshop and making sure that we would have all the materials we needed, we headed back to the guesthouse. After realizing that it was too little time for a proper lunch, we grabbed some snacks and caught a taxi. The local taxi drivers are not used to find their ways by using maps, but landmarks and other knowledge, so finding the way required a couple of calls to the contact person at AITM. In the end, we managed to arrive to the campus well on time.
The workshop started with short introductions of both, AITM and Aalto University. Despite cultural differences, we found many things in common, such as our interest in the topic of sustainability and both school’s ambitious goals of educating responsible future leaders. We continued in more informal manner by each of us having a candy that was supposed to change to a different type of candy with a person you had not met before while discussing and getting to know each other. Everyone participated actively and it was a joy to see students, teachers and the head of the department sharing stories about their backgrounds equally.
After getting to know each other, we had a brainstorming session about sustainability and what it means to us. As students focusing in sustainability issues specifically, it was hard to tell beforehand, how familiar the theme would be to our colleagues. However, the topic was clearly familiar and interesting for everyone who participated, and we got a lot of insights from the Nepalese perspective. Especially gender issues, employment and sustainable use of natural resources came up several times. Having a slightly tighter schedule than we had thought, we skipped a part of the next section of the workshop and continued straight on to play a game we had designed to approach the other part of the main focus of our project; communication issues. We got into three teams and from each team one member had instructions for task to build a tower. However, only one team could communicated freely, the others had restrictions in who could speak to who. By this setup we illustrated how different situations in communication actually affect a lot to the outcome, decision making and the working atmosphere as well.
In the end of the workshop we gathered together with our three new team members and went through our project proposal. Everyone found interesting aspects in the plan and got an idea in what they could focus during the case site visit. All in all, the workshop felt successful and besides meeting colleagues I think that everyone felt that they had got new friends as well.
In the evening, Elias arrived to the guesthouse and we went to have our evening meeting in a local restaurant. After that, we had the privilege to get an invitation to a local wedding of our guesthouse’s owner’s niece. The wedding was a unique cultural experience that one can be nothing but a grateful for.