When we excitedly announced that we were going to Lebanon, we were understandably met with a bit of skepticism. Our parents expressed safety concerns and so did our insurance provider. But we knew that going to Lebanon for Beirut Design Week would be a great testing ground for our first international workshop, and moreover, would allow us to really learn how kids in different cultures express their hopes and assumptions about the future of both City X and Earth.
Our first international workshop was not without its difficulties. Working with kids that spoke Arabic, French, and English in varying degrees of proficiency meant that we had to come up with some creative ways to overcome language barriers, and our 3D printer didn’t much appreciate the brief but regular power outages around Beirut.
But when you work with kids and travel internationally you learn a thing or two about adaptability, and really you just assume there will be some issues that arise. Plus, we weren’t entirely on our own. We had the unbelievably generous support of the AltCity coworking space staff, to whom we owe a great deal. We also had the support of the MENA Design Research Center. In addition to our Beirut Design Week workshop, we were able to arrange a fantastic on-site workshop with an SOS Children’s Village in Kfarhay. And, of course, we gave a talk about the City X Project at the Beirut Design Week Conference, in between talks about the likes of bio-fashion, 3D printing in architecture, and social design.
Lebanese hospitality is everything we were told it would be and more, and it’s hard to imagine a better place to chat with friends over a fresh Turkish coffee or cup of espresso, provided you can find some shade from that Middle Eastern sun.
And so, a little bit jet lagged and with a list of lessons to keep in mind for future international workshops, we’re ready to move forward with scheduling other schools around the world to continue testing and adapting the City X Project curriculum we plan to release in 2014!
If you know of a school outside the United States that might be interested in hosting a City X Project workshop, please contact us! We’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for spontaneous updates and travel photos.