Text: Meryem Boudalal
A journey of 8 students from Finland experiencing Zambia
If I say the African country that has the world's greatest sheet of falling water, diverse wildlife, and people with more than 72 tribes in it. Yes, it is Zambia. It was with immense pleasure that we, students of HAMK, participated in the AGS (Accelerated Growth for SMEs) co-creation and innovation program in Zambia. A program that aims to empower companies, universities, the public sector, and individual citizens, to join an inclusive community that supports local SMEs. In this blog, we will be telling about our journey with the AGS program in Zambia. How did we work together along with Zambian students to solve local companies’ problems? And how did we discuss the different solutions of how to implement project-based learning in Zambian universities?
Group picture of students who participated to the workshops in Lusaka, Zambia
It's all about PBL!
Like most of the universities of applied sciences in Finland, HAMK has always adopted a project-based learning system where students get to learn through projects with Finnish companies and practice by solving real problems within those. This learning system enables students to have a close look over their professional life and be ready for the working environment even before they graduate. Students get to learn by doing other than just studying the theoretical side of things and get to develop knowledge and skills through engaging projects set around challenges and problems they may face in the real world.
Hence, what if we could implement a similar learning system in the universities of Zambia? This was one of the main goals that we wanted to achieve through this program.
Meeting with companies!
Together with some students from the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the university of Mulungushi, brainstorming sessions were organized to meet with Zambian companies such as “BongoHive” , “Musika” , and “Edgewise business solutions Ltd”. We discuss the different possibilities of implementing such a learning system in Zambia. Seeing things from the Zambian companies’ and Zambian universities’ perspectives has helped us, as well as the Zambian students, define the challenges, the pros, the cons, as well as figure out how to adapt the Finnish learning system so that is best fit to Zambia.
The 3 days workshops have taken an important part of our journey. It is through these workshops that we could work on solutions along with Zambian students and local SMEs in Zambia. The aim was, not only to introduce the project learning system to companies, universities, and students in Zambia. But also learn how to start communities within these three while concentrating on resources and emphasizing concrete things.
During these workshops, students of the 3 collaborators (The University of Zambia, the university of Mulungushi, and HAMK) have presented their Pitch Deck presentations which resumed their work with the local companies, learned how to start communities and how to develop skills for that using different techniques such as the Round Table Chats. This was established with the help of a large, talented, and committed teachers and staff members and with the guidance of Jenna from Crazy Town who has been facilitating the workshops throughout the 3 days in Zambia.
Let’s Get to the good part!
Along with the work we have done in the workshops, or with the companies, the 8 days we spent in Zambia have taught us so much more. Planning a weekend in Livingstone was one of the most interesting adventures we had. This tourist capital of Zambia had so many wonders for us to discover. Starting from the “Devil Pools” which is a natural rock swimming pool on a ledge next to Victoria walls. When fear and excitement are gathered, well, that is exactly what swimming in these waters makes you feel. We could enjoy one of the most amazing views of the falls when hiking around the Victoria falls site. Rainbows, and seeing all this water falling was just mesmerizing. Honestly, us getting soaking wet was worth it! Besides, nothing is better than a sunset cruise by the end of the day, just chill and enjoy!
Moreover, we cannot miss talking about the wildlife when mentioning Zambia. If you want to see white rhinos, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is your destination. You also get to see Zebras, Giraffes, Impalas, Hippos, Monkeys… and many other wild animals in their natural habitats.
Zambia is not only about the sites, but also the people. The nice people of Zambia have made our exploration more fun and amusing. They are always ready to share their culture and, whatever they are doing, they are doing it with a smile on their faces. These friendly and welcoming people got us with a rich, varied, and mixed culture onboard.
Victoria Falls. Kuva: Jukka Niemi
To conclude, no one can deny the fact that these eight days spent in Zambia have opened our eyes to many innovative approaches and perspectives both professionally and intellectually.
It has enabled us to work in an international environment, face many challenges, and most importantly “Communicate”. Furthermore, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, and build communities that, beyond any doubt, will last for long.