By Joanne Liou, Communications and Impact Specialist
Wrapping up the delegation trip in Jordan, many new ideas and collaborative efforts were conceived at TechWomen’s first unconference – a conference curated and facilitated by the delegates themselves. The unconference format created space for mentors and fellows to learn, collaborate and connect with one another on topics that matter most to them – from strengthening the TechWomen program, to funding and youth engagement.
Before departing Amman, the delegation convened on Wednesday evening to discuss topics and sessions. Participants had the opportunity to put sessions on the agenda based on their interests and expertise.
On Thursday at the Dead Sea, Director Arezoo Riahi and Mitchell Baker, founder of Mozilla and executive chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation, opened and set the stage for the unconference. The unconference agenda was divided into seven topic sessions:
- Strengthening the TechWomen network,
- Supporting TechWomen fellows,
- Community impact,
- Women’s empowerment,
- Funding TechWomen-enabled entrepreneurship, and
- Mentorship and youth engagement.
Within each session, facilitators led discussions on focused topics; for example, Mitchell facilitated sessions on, “Engaging Silicon Valley to Support Fellows Beyond Funding,” “Improving the Economic Status of Women” and “Public Speaking, Networking and Executive Presence.” Mentor Latoya Hodge facilitated the session, “Using Technology to Communicate Remotely,” and Omnia Eteyari, a 2011 fellow from Libya, co-facilitated the session, “Helping Arab Entrepreneurs Overcome Common Challenges” with mentors Meg Desko and Zoe Schladow.
At the end of each day, the delegation gathered to review the key takeaways and calls to action.
The purpose of the delegation trips is far reaching, from strengthening the TechWomen network and understanding the social and tech environments, to cultivating new ideas, momentum and collaboration. As Shatha Jayousi, a 2013 fellow from Jordan, succinctly stated, “These delegation trips re-energize us.”