We began our day with brainstorming about what we've learned in India. A few obvious issues for the class came to mind. If you're crossing the street without getting honked at, you're not doing it right. And if you're not comfortable with being surrounded with engineers, India may not be the place for you.
But in terms of the classroom this week, nothing has stood out more than this: If you want somebody to listen, tell them a story.
And today we heard a range of stories. In contrast to the much heard, "I had an idea and now I'm successful" anecdote often used in social ventures narratives, the stories today were ones of intertwining interests, conflicting goals, and interfering struggles that are simply the nature of life.
We heard from Steele Lorenz, past Acara student and now founder and CEO of MyRain. Although he did not win the 2010 Acara Challenge, Steele continued working part-time on his idea for two years. Finally, he decided to drop everything and leave for India to put his business plan to action.
MyRain is now a growing business, but he still struggles with the tough decisions that come along with business and the miscommunication barriers with both his workers and customers. It's all part of his story.
We also heard from our own Fred Rose, who after 30 years of working at Honeywell became feed up with the way his children were being taught to solve problems.
This led him to start High Tech Kids, a robot competition for students in grades 4-9. He eventually went on to head the Acara program with Julian Marshall. (Not much explanation needed there; it's the reason we are all in India.) He still struggles with defining the program, the conflicting interests of the university, and connecting with students of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. Again, just another plot line in his story.
Tomorrow, as we pitch our ideas for our social ventures, we'll only be touching on a portion of our story: where we came from, the skills we bring with us, the passions we have formed over the years, and even the changes and discoveries within ourselves over the past three weeks.
But what's next?
India may the beginning of some plot lines, but it is definitely not the end. How will we apply our skills and ideas from here in India to our education at University of Minnesota, current/future jobs, or even, for some, in continuing the pursuit of change in India?
So, just as Fred ended his story, I too will say: It's your turn. What's your story?