Prototyping Education Programs for Refugees


woman with sketch notes

This year, over 100,000 unaccompanied children will cross the US-Mexico border in search of safety in the United States. These children, some as young as 4 years old, have endured a 1,500-mile journey atop freight trains under the “care” of smugglers to escape violence in their Central American home countries. Last week, I had the opportunity to join the Field Innovation Team to develop programming for a center in San Antonio, Texas that houses some of these young refugees.

The Field Innovation Team is a non-profit organization that deploys cross-disciplinary teams of volunteers to deliver real-time innovation throughout the lifecycle of disasters. I felt honored to join such a brilliant and dedicated team in tackling a small piece of this refugee crisis. Over the course of two weeks, we rapidly tested a variety of programs in art, technology, science and even improv. The outcome? A book of education programs for refugees that can be used with youth in crises and disasters anywhere.

One of those activities is a shortened version of IDEAco’s own City X Project, which focuses on empathy and ideation as a tool for empowerment. Our friends at Puentek, an innovation lab on wheels, translated the toolkit materials into Spanish before I arrived in San Antonio and, over the course of a week, the FIT team helped test several iterations of shortened City X Project activities with over 40 refugees, ages 6-17.

The Field Innovation Team is working to complete an updated version of the activity booklet for youth facing crisis situations, and we’ll let you know when it’s available online.

Huge thanks to FIT for including me and the City X Project in this initiative!


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