Novo 8 Day 1

First day of Nexus Maximus and we kicked it off with a team builder workshop with Professor Spindel from Jefferson University. Eno, WenYi, Jenny, and I (Sammy) participated in teambuilding exercises followed by a series of workshops.

Our ultimate goal for today was to brainstorm ideas for potential solutions for refugees and displaced populations. We attended different workshops to gather information and met up throughout parts of the day to discuss our findings.

The How Information Systems can Improve Refugee Well Being and Transform Humanitarian Action workshop provided great insight about how refugees can communicate without connection to the internet. We were shown previous Nexus Maximus ideas such as BuoyCast, which uses surface-to-surface communication on the water using messaging bottles. It was intriguing to find out that communication is still possible even when communication networks are down, such as Liberouter, which allows people to leave messages with a smartphone to battery operated mobile router devices, and people can then later retrieve these messages.

One of the workshop dealt with the economics perspective which gave us a sense of scale on actual numbers and funding issues as well as how regulation can sometimes drive a negative outlook on illegal means to apply for asylum (ie. needing to physically be in the country you’re asking asylum but you’re not allowed to fly there legally). The focus was on current events in Europe and how there are different ways to tackle the problem such as doing more to host refugees or help with local integration as well as resettlement.

Another workshop we went to is lectured by professor Rob Fleming at 1:00 p.m. We got to know the problems we face globally. After that, he led us to think from the perspective of refugees and found out what they need base on the Maslow’s need model. At the end of his lecture, he encouraged us to come out sustainable, long-term ideas for the solution of refugees and displaced problem.

After the workshops, we brainstormed ideas on both large and small scales. We thought about different aspects of the refugee process such as their mental health, communication, and education. We met up with our project advisor, Barry J. Burton, to discuss our ideas and concluded that we should continue researching and delving deeper into our ideas. We ultimately decided on focusing on empathy and trying to put ourselves into the shoes of refugees and displaced population.