Young people build bridges between India and the Netherlands with future-focused project

The other day I realized once again that a beautiful future awaits our children. This was illustrated by the Dreams Project set up by Decos at two schools. We asked one class in the Netherlands and one class in India to visualize their dreams for the future in the course of a week, and share those dreams with each other on a Facebook page and with Skype video calls. Results were truly astonishing: the youngsters were incredibly enthusiastic and presented fantastic ideas for their own futures.

The project

30 students at Northgo College in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, dreamed about a school for their future kids. They made films to present their ideas and even made a 3D design of the building with SketchUp. I was blown away by what they were able to create in the course of just a few days, while doing all the work digitally and in English! It was interesting to note that they were often inspired by the Back to the Future movies, such as having everybody at school use hoverboards. But also palm scanning technology, robots teaching classes, and self-driving cars.

At the same time, 30 students at Nachiketas High School in India were working on the same project. They linked the project to the broader “My Country” movement currently taking place in India. The movement consists of all kinds of citizen initiatives aimed at improving local neighborhoods, cities and municipalities. Indian children also took those goals into consideration, and they came up with excellent ideas! One group thought up a sustainable solution for problematic electricity shortages that are currently troubling farmers. They also thought up a smart app for Smart India, a safety device for children, and better ways to collect trash in order to keep the country clean and sustainable.

Building bridges

Students connected through their own Facebook page and a number of live Skype calls. Significant cultural differences became instantly obvious! Dutch students slouched in bean bag chairs, Indian students wore uniforms and sat at immaculate desks. Most of the room was filled with VIPs at the final presentation in India and you had to look closely to see the students hidden in the back. In Noordwijk it was the other way around: students sat in front, and adults in the back. A significant cultural difference!

This culture clash was an important aspect of the project. In order to build a bridge between two cultures, you must look at differences as well as similarities. There were a great many similarities, and students in both India and The Netherlands truly amazed us! Every idea was carefully executed, presentations were incredibly professional, and they learned a great deal beyond the subject itself, such as how to work together effectively in groups. It was an eye-opener for teachers that children aged 13-14 were quite capable of careful thought about the distant future. They also put the latest methods into practice, such as business model canvas. I was incredibly impressed at how quickly they mastered it! Students in The Netherlands quite effortlessly worked completely digitally.

The project proved that thanks to good education, children are truly equal to each other, regardless of country of birth, social status, faith or heritage. It was clear to us that we should never patronize children or underestimate them, because they are capable of so much more than we might imagine… Which convinced me more than ever that the future is beckoning brightly for everybody. If we can continue to stimulate the intelligence and creativity of young people, they will make the world into an even more wonderful place!

 

Pictures, films and project presentations can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/ourdreams4thefuture/

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Paul Veger

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