AWiB Listens: How can we develop a culture of collaboration?

How can we enable each other to shine? This was the topic of discussion at the January 5th, 2017 World Café, hosted by Nadia Waber and Sarah Tadiwos.

World café is around table discussion designed to create collaborative dialogue and knowledge-sharing. The informal setting will nurture creativity as opposed to the more formal organized meeting. ‘Let me buy you coffee’ or ‘let’s have tea’ suggestions between friends result in open discussions about issues relevant to our lives. Established in the belief that great conversations happen when we have freedom and opportunity to be inspired, to meet people different from who we are, this World Café did not disappoint.

Sitting in a round table discussion with 4 unfamiliar people, the first thing that is apparent is the different backgrounds; from upbringing to manners of speech and type of work we were engaged in, we were all unalike. We are reminded by Nadia that each idea is valuable; discussions like this will help us creatively solve problems.

The first question to discuss was: As women and men in Ethiopia, what are we commonly striving for? What is a burning issue for us? What is our common problem to solve? Once the discussion began, the diversity of identity faded and we were faced with the common features we share. The manners in which people answer are telling of personality and drive, the things people care most about.

The common problem identified by most groups was a lack of communication. The inability to listen and take into account the variety of perspectives that people have holds us back from solving our problems. Participants mentioned a lack of understanding between people and mistrust creates more divides than brings anyone together.

A lack of accountability and taking on responsibility for our part in the problems; dishonesty; lack of empathy and compassion create misunderstandings and miscommunications. Extremist views and forcing others to subscribe to these perspectives, reacting negatively towards challengers of these views and being unwilling to compromise in order to come up with viable solutions was also one of the burning problems mentioned.

Aside from the core personal issues stated, problems within the societal structure and the organization of our social systems were identified. Gender inequality, poverty, problems within the education system, insufficient focus on the youth, honest public service, social security, environmental pollution, war and public development being left up to the government were other important issues discussed.

After identifying these problems as our core issues we need to solve, the hosts asked what the future would look like if we solved our problems together. Most of us imagined a harmonious utopia, easier lives and problems quickly dealt with, offering a better world to future generations. Giving solutions to our problems will give us more energy to unleash our potential, creating a cycle of problem solving, making us more productive. We will look forward to the future and therefore happier. People would see and listen to each other, be more compassionate and self-aware, creating more equality between individuals. A world with little or no stress and without traffic jams.

This led us to discuss the final question of the day – what needs to happen to bring our common agenda into fruition? What type of actions, collaborations are required? How can we share this responsibility?

Collaboration, team work and unity can help us get to our goals. Listening to each other and creating a coherent narrative and common platform that is inclusive of all individuals will help us communicate better. Taking the initiative to bring about concrete changes and thinking of future generations, being fully aware of the long-term consequences of our actions are important.

Agreeing on common issues, putting these issues into the public discussion and spreading the world on their relevance will put our problems into the common discussion. Being open minded and empathetic, taking responsibility for our actions and identifying our role in both problem creation and solution-giving will give each person the agency to take real action to make a better world for us all.

This concluded the discussion, participants trying to direct the output towards themselves and what they will do in their own lives. Mulugeta, one of the few male participants, decided to host a World Café at his workplace. This was followed by the raffle ticket draw for the Desta Hagos painting. Salahadin Khalifadrew the winning ticket and announced Tewobista Alemayehu the lucky winner.

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