Demola is an innovation platform that connects businesses and students. The concept was created in Finland, but the platform and the Demola Community has developed into an international network involving more than 60 universities from 16 countries around the world. University of Pécs joined this platform in 2019.
In the online period of last spring, Demola PTE, in cooperation with Green University Programme of UP launched a challenge aiming to support the strategic work of the GU Program. The project team including five students from University of Pécs, successfully worked together and created several innovative ideas for GU Program. Due to the Covid-19 situation, the entire challenge had to be put in the online space.
The project team of GreenIdea challenge was very diverse regarding the cultural and scientific background. Carolyne Wanjiku came from Kenya and studied nursing at the Faculty of Health Sciences in Pécs, now she has been spending her professional practice time in Poland.
What motivated you to apply for the GreenIdea challenge, did you have any prior expectations?
I was drawn to the idea of working in a team to produce practical ways to positively impact the earth. I wanted to work with like-minded individuals and gain innovative ideas and insights. Before joining I had expected to mostly work on research-based assignments, but I was happy that the project demanded for a lot of practical work and activities.
How did you feel, could you become a cooperative team soon? Did you feel difficulty working in an online team? How could you cowork, what was your strategy?
I had positive feelings for my team and the work we were going to do. Each person on the team brought a fresh energy to our work and everyone was ready to contribute in their own unique ways. I was immediately curious and looking forward to what every member had to offer. Working online with the team was a bit challenging as considering the pandemic situation. We made our online video meetings as productive as possible. We divided our tasks according to our different skills and passions and kept a constant communication channel open so that we could all inform each other on our work. We utilised messaging apps like Messenger.
What is your most defining experience with the project, be it professional, collaborative, technical or even personal? Do you think you have learned some practical, professional skills that you can use later in your work?
My most defining experience was when I had to go out and do video interviews and surveys for the project. For video interviews, I quickly had to develop some skills in videography, video editing and interviewing. I enjoyed gathering raw data and seeing the work that goes into compiling it and arranging it to make it valuable information. Another valuable moment was meeting our coordinator and most of the team for a hangout. We created an amazing experience.
What do you think is the hardest part of the online (team)work?
Online working did present a challenge on the part of relaying and properly understanding information. Some bits of information are hard to understand when not said in person. Words can carry feelings of concern or urgency which are not easily detected unless they are being communicated face-to-face. So as much as messaging apps provided fast communication, a lot of the meaning of the words and thoughts behind the words may have been lost.
What advice would you give to UP students who are thinking about joining an international innovation project?
I would say, go for it!
This is a great chance to be in a creative environment and meet like-minded people. Go into it with an open mind, listen more than you talk and do it with all your heart. Challenge yourself to deliver, challenge yourself to learn and challenge yourself to change.
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