By Lekodi Magombo, Programmes Officer
As students return from end of year break, the AGHCA is gearing up for Students with Dreams 2017. In recruiting this year’s Dreamers, we’ve decided to try something new. Instead of running info sessions presenting the programme, we’re launching Dream Machines. Using the participatory, arts-based approaches for which the AGHCA is known, Dream Machines are interactive and collaborative brainstorming extravaganzas.
Just last week, we hosted our first one. To set a playful and informal tone, we kicked things off with an icebreaker called secret handshake, with participants coming up with all sorts of increasingly elaborate moves and animal calls. Then we launched into the first activity, Thought Poetry. The group was asked to come up with two poems using all five senses: one describing the Malawi they love, the other describing the struggles of Malawi. With the help of our facilitators, students discussed their poems, revealing many different perspectives and insights. Some associated the Malawi they love with good food and warm meals, while others painted vivid images of lemons and rotten smells when envisioning Malawi’s struggles.
To get everyone moving, we played Mama Jamira, a game in which people are instructed to move different parts of their body in specific ways until suddenly everyone ends up dancing. It was a great warm up for the final activity, Shuffle Hats. Every participant was given a piece of paper and asked to write down one problem they’ve identified in society. They then threw their pieces of paper into one of four hats, picked up a paper from another hat, and responded with a potential solution to the problem another participant had identified. The activity continued until every participant had drawn from each hat. The ultimate goal was to explore the varied range of solutions that friends and fellow students can propose to a defined set of problems. A roaring success, a crowd formed and individuals outside the initial core group jumped in to participate.
We concluded by briefing participants on how they can apply for Students with Dreams. We encouraged them to be innovative and creative in their ideas, answered questions and distributed applications.
The event was interactive and informative, with plenty of fun and laughter. Nearly 40 people showed up and took part.