International Emerging Leaders Program

at Collegiate School



Learning Outside of the Classroom

Design Thinking: Interpretation

How can you figure out who someone is and what problems they face in their everyday life? How are the problems of one person connected to the larger environmental issues that plague a region? This is what we explored in the second of our five Design Thinking Sessions, Interpration.

“Interpretation is exactly what it sounds like. It is taking the people and the stories you have already learned about and gaining insight from them.”

– Mrs. Boyd

The first step of this multifaceted approach was to ask questions to form a complete profile of your users.  By asking questions like, “What does she like?” and “What does he need?” you can understand how your problem effects your user on a basic, human level.

“When you have different users, and you understand their needs, you have insights.” -Mrs. Boyd

The next step was to think about  each “user profile” we had developed and create insights from each. An insight (or an interpretation of the perspective of the user) allows you to see the problem from the user’s eyes, thus understanding its importance to them and effect on them.

“We focused on the specific needs of the users so we went deep into the problem rather than looking at it as a whole.”

-Gunav G., India

The final step was to to take the many insights we had developed from problems we had found, and choose one or two specific issues that we can dive deeper into. By narrowing down our focus be could begin to completely understand a specific aspect of an issue instead of attempting the impossible task of trying to understand the entire issue of “Overpopulation in India,” for example, in a week. The whole processes of Interpretation allowed us to take a large, abstract problem and condense it down into personal issue with a narrow and manageable focus.

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Design Thinking: Discovery

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Design Thinking is a process and approach to solution seeking that the International Emerging Leaders Conference teaches in order to facilitate effective design for challenges of all kinds.

On Monday afternoon, the students had their first session of the Design Thinking process, called “Discovery.” After being assigned an environmental issue from one of the eleven presentations, the small groups split up to discuss amongst each other. Mrs. Boyd told everyone to discard any analytical thoughts and instead just lead a discussion. In Design Thinking, it is important to fully understand the problem and its effect on humans. The human-centered thinking process revolves around a main theme of empathy; relating to and focusing on the lives of people affected by these international issues leads to more effective and personal solutions.

“Talk less, listen more.”

-Mrs. Boyd

Essentially, the process of Design Thinking is to abandon any immediate solution-seeking inclinations, but instead to really communicate and understand the issue at hand. Experts in Design Thinking claim that any problem can be more effectively solved once it is fully understood and discussed amongst a diverse group of people. The international students will participate in five different Design Thinking sessions throughout the week.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

-Albert Einstein

Campus Tours 

I Used to Think…. And Now I Think….

After an memorable first night with their host families, the International Delegates returned to Collegiate’s campus for a day filled with on campus programming.

Each day begins with a morning meeting led by Senior Ambassador Julia M., and today she facilitated an activity where students used sticky notes to quietly reflect and share how their perceptions of other countries in the world have already changed.  They posted, “I Used to Think…” ideas to show their earlier perceptions of one another’s countries and cultures, followed by “And Now I Think…” ideas to show how their ideas have evolved.

Doing Business in an International World 

The first guest speaker of the Conference was Suly Salazar-Layton, the Head of Marketing at PIETech. Mrs. Salazar-Layton challenged us to notice the stereotypes we are using and remember that “differences do not make us better or worse; it just makes us different.” She lead the group though an activity in which Delegates were chalenged to take on the perspective of another country an explain what stereotypes they might have and how those stereotypes might effect citizens from that country’s relate with others. Delegates shared their thoughts with partners and then with the group as a whole. Mrs. Salazar-Layton then elaborated on gender’s effect on how two people calaborate and work togeather. She explained how all men and women are physiologically  different and thus tend to behave in diffenent ways when put in stressful situations.

“The old golden rule was ‘treat other people the way you want to be treated.’ The new rule should be to treat others they way they want to be treated.”

– Mrs. Salazar-Layton

Mrs. Salazar-Layton also elaborated on how different work and different ways and thus, to get the most out of each person, we should try understand the way they work and approach them in a way appropriate for them. She reinforced these themes in her personal stories such one story in which she accidentally intimidated a graphic designer she worked with by giving her a problem and looking for her immediate ideas and feedback. Mrs. Salazar-Layton finally concluded by emphasizing that you can do so much if you just take a moment to remember the new golden rule and make sure your opinions are not formed off of labels or stereotypes.

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Delegates Present Environmental Challenges

Welcoming Arms – Delegates Meet Host Families

After an exciting but tiring first day in Richmond, the international delegates were ready to meet their host families and head home. The host families came in with welcoming arms, and immediately connections were made and new relationships began to form.

“I was so excited to meet her and immediately wanted to get to know her in person. It was so cool to see her around her friends and made me super excited for the rest of the week.” Mcgee R., USA

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A New Lens

“One of the great things for us is to see our own town though the lens of someone else, the lens of someone not even from the United States.” – Mrs. Sisisky

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