NFGL network innovation: ‘We wanted to do something different’

NFGL network innovation: 'We wanted to do something different'
Participants were all smiles after the workshop. Photo: Redwan Hasan
Redwan Hasan of Bangladesh tells SI News about a recent innovation the NFGL Local Network at Linnaeus University he believes could be a model for local networks at other universities.

In early December, the NFGL Local Network at Linnaeus University organized its first ever “Case Competition” bringing together 14 students for an event unlike any they’d previously arranged.

“We’d already organized a social event and something about pursuing PhD studies during the autumn, so this time we wanted to do something different,” explains Redwan Hasan, a member of the NFGL local network at Linnaeus University

“We saw how other NFGL local networks doing similar things like trips and networking events and thought we’d tried to innovate and come up with a new concept.”

According to Hasan, who is studying Information Systems at Linnaeus, he and his fellow NFGL members wanted to offer something “similar to a real-life work scenario” that went beyond mingling and socializing.

“We will all finish our studies and find ourselves in the working world, getting matched with different people in different environments, so having some practice bringing people together and building a team seemed like a good idea,” he says.

“A workshop would help us build different, practical skills like problem solving and team management. And we thought it would be fun too.”

He discussed the concept with one of his professors, Dr. Jeff Winter in the Department of Informatics, who suggested tacking the refugee housing problem.

“The refugee crisis has been a major problem in recent months, and housing has long been a problem in Sweden. So the idea was to use the workshop as a way to develop different solutions that would make it easier to provide affordable housing to refugees,” Hasan continues.

The workshop began with a short presentation on refugees by Dr. Winter before the 14 participants were divided into three working groups, each of which worked to develop their own solution to the problem.

According to Hasan, the fact that almost none of the participants had any direct experience with refugees made the task even more challenging.

“It’s a very abstract and complex problem, so finding a particular aspect to focus on wasn’t easy. We really had to be innovative,” he explains.

Participants were also tested in how they presented their solutions to Dr. Winter, who was tasked with judging the results of the session.

“Each group wanted to do their best, and the professor asked a lot of tough questions. So we really had to prove our argumentation skills,” says Hasan.

The groups examined the issue from several perspectives, proposing initiatives that not only addressed housing specifically, but also looked at other surrounding factors such as learning Swedish, access to information, and activating volunteers.

In the end, everyone was satisfied with the ideas they came up with as well as the session as a whole.

And part of what made the event such a success was yet another innovation for NFGL-organized events: inviting other, non-SI scholarship students to participate.

“We asked ourselves, ‘Why not include everyone? Why not get them in and their ideas?’. There are great ideas in every mind, after all. So we figured, the more the merrier,” Hasan explains.

Not only did the other students enrich the workshop, it was also a way for the NFGL students at Linnaeus University to build tighter bonds with the wider student body as well as explain more about the work of SI and their own journeys to Sweden.

“It was great doing something different and engaging so many brains to come up with ideas related to a current problem,” Hasan adds.

“But next time we hope we can do something on a larger scale and get even more students participating.”

He’s looking forward to more organizing more events at Linnaeus in 2016.

“Exactly what we do will depend on input from others, of course. We certainly want to keep doing new things – you don’t want to do the same thing over and over,” he says.

“Change is good. Sometimes it’s good to keep people guessing.”

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