HAMK students Janika, Leena, Anni and Jaana
Our two weeks’ field trip to Zambia was very fruitful and we learned a lot about problem-based learning (PBL) method as well as from the local culture and way of life. The trip was first to Africa for all of us and therefore the experience was unique.
We got to the core of the challenge during the field work
We got the opportunity to deepen our knowledge about project planning, fieldwork, and communication. The PBL-method enabled us to define the approach ourselves which was motivating and inspiring way to learn. In the core of the project was user-centered approach: in problem definition as well as in brainstorming made before and during the field trip. We really got into the core of it once we got to the village and had a chance to interview the villagers. We also got to implement the methods we had learned in the school, such as organizing focus group discussions and workshops.
End user perspective and conditions
During the fieldwork, one of the major learning points was how important it is to familiarize oneself with the end user perspective and reality. At the very beginning of our visit some of our preconditions turned out not to match the actual conditions at the village, such as, some of the features of the stove are incompatible with the devices locals have. This led us to re-frame our original problem definition and taught us the importance of adapting to changing circumstances. Also, distances, timetable changes and unexpected situations taught us adaptation skills. All of this resembled the professional life situations and a good practice of that.
Connecting; different demographics, cultural & language backgrounds
Holding interviews and workshops meant lots of communication with people from different cultural and language backgrounds as well as from different age groups. Through our discussions we shared knowledge about the way of life and culture with fellow Zambian students and villagers. We learnt a lot from locals as well as though observations throughout the journey about the cultural difference in terms of food, traditions, language, school system and society. All of this broadened our minds and developed our understanding of people coming from different backgrounds and conditions. The friendliness of fellow students and villagers made us feel welcome.
An unforgettable experience and highly recommended
All in all, the student challenge was an unforgettable learning experience about PBL-method, working in multicultural teams and getting insight in Zambian life in a short time. We highly recommend the student challenge for all HAMK students regardless of the study programme. In the PBL-methodology, it is possible to find an angle for the student challenge based on one’s interest and knowledge.
(Meaning; Thank you very much in Tonga language)