The last day of the delegation trip began in Samarkand, a city known for being a crossroads of the Great Silk Road. The day began at Youth Union Center, where the group met with local schoolgirls aged 10-18, as well as Technovation Uzbekistan teams working on refining their pitches.
During the Technovation session, mentors invited the teams to pitch their mobile app and gather feedback. The groups had developed apps that addressed a range of topics, including healthcare, language learning and cultural education tools. One group, Happy Friends, hoped to bridge the gap between older and younger generations by equipping young people with tools to understand and respect their elders. After presenting their pitches, the girls broke out into small groups to gather feedback on their app ideas and learn how to best present their pitches during the Technovation competition.
The second workshop was led by fellows of Lebanon Lara Gylnar Chikhani and Maya Itani, founders of Solve24, a STEM boot camp that aims to help teenagers and young adults innovate and solve problems relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Together, they led students through exercises that demonstrated design thinking and problem solving processes. Using real-world examples, the fellows introduced students to the principles behind innovation through the acronym LUMIAMI: Look, Use, Move, Interconnect, Alter, Make and Imagine. “How can we see things in a different way,” Laura asked, “and how can we connect seemingly unrelated things to alter design and performance?” After breaking into groups, the girls had a chance to try design thinking for themselves, choosing a problem they face and using a design thinking framework to brainstorm ways to solve it.
At the end of the morning, all groups came together for a session on public speaking led by mentors Zoe Schladow and Sarasija Parthasarthy. There, they guided students on how to successfully present in front of an audience. They began by reminding the young students that it is okay to be nervous, but that practice creates confidence and confidence is essential in public speaking. They encouraged students to think about their body language and always speak slowly, clearly and confidently. “You should also tell a story,” said Zoe. “Have a perspective and stay on track.”
The day ended with sightseeing throughout Samarkand, first visiting Gur Emir, a mausoleum built at the end of the 14th century. Mentors and fellows then had the opportunity to walk through the Registan, once the heart of ancient Samarkand. There, mentors and fellows tried on traditional clothing made by a local designer and explored the intricate and historic buildings of the square. The day concluded with our farewell dinner, which brought the group together to celebrate a week of learning, exchange and inspiration in Uzbekistan.
The week’s success would not have been possible without TechWomen’s incredible group of 16 mentors, 13 fellows from Uzbekistan and 25 visiting fellows from across the globe. By sharing their stories, experiences and expertise, they showed women and girls what is possible through hard work, determination and believing that they, too, have the ability to be STEM leaders in Uzbekistan.
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