Samira

As part of my WorldChicago fellowship I am placed with the education company called Design Dance. Design dance has a team of dancers and teachers who partner with schools and community centers to build courage, connection and self- awareness by using dance as a teaching tool. The program offers high quality dance education that aims to meet the needs of the communities and schools served. Students who go through the program learn communication skills, empathy, confidence and focus during the school day. Alongside Design Dance, its founder and director Debra Giunta also set up another organization called Prismatic. Prismatic focuses on providing entrepreneurial education to students who would like to explore the business possibilities in the arts sector.

During my onboarding stage we agreed that my time here will be divided between the two companies. First week was devoted to meeting all team members, going through the materials that have been developed in the past ten years since Design Dance was set up. The task for the week was to have a clear understanding of what my deliverables will be by the end of my stay with Design Dance and Prismatic together with the timeline when each deliverable should be completed and presented to the team. I attended two team meetings where I was introduced to the operational side of both organizations. Given my prior experience as well as my current work on developing a learning cooperative in Bosnia, we decided that I will work on three separate deliverables while here: five-year strategic plan for Design Dance, Stakeholder engagement strategy for both organizations and Financial sustainability strategy for Prismatic.

As part of my preparation work I have conducted interviews with all Design Dance staff and one teacher. I have also had a chance to attend two classes in school as part of Design Dance observation team and a networking event at Loyola University. Design Dance staff facilitated connections to ten different organizations that do work in education sector in Second Shift co-founder Levi Baer and After School All Stars' Shauntel Vaughn. The rest of the meetings have already been scheduled for the next two weeks of my stay in Chicago.

The last two weeks of my professional fellowship with Design Dance were focused on designing a lean workshop for the organization, school visits and networking through internal contacts. In the third week I was actively working on finishing up agreed upon deliverables and identifying areas for improvement to be tackled in the workshop. It was agreed that the whole team will be given a workshop on lean value streaming and process waste elimination on Wednesday, November 7th. The workshop was successfully carried out. After gaining additional inputs through this workshop I will finalize my deliverables and present them to the team on the last day of my fellowship with Design Dance on Friday, November 9th.

Additionally, I have been to three new school visits to observe classes and have met with Levi Baer for the recording of his podcast episode on entrepreneurial challenges in different countries of the world. Those will be aired by the end of the year as part of his new series for entrepreneurs called “Start it up”. I have had a chance to meet/talk to representatives of organizations such as The Simple Good, Communities in Schools of Chicago, Second Story, Inspire Girls Academy. I have made valuable additional contacts through them that will help me start similar programs in Bosnia and will actively continue collaborating with them especially if I decide to implement similar initiatives as part of my organization.

Additionally, since there is a considerable alignment between what Prismatic and Design Dance do in Chicago and what I want to do in Bosnia, Debra and myself have agreed to continue our collaboration into the future and perhaps bring these organizations and their programs to the Balkans. We have worked out an operational plan for the collaboration in preparation and implementation of my personal project as well as organizational level collaboration that we envisage to take place in the spring of 2019.

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