THOUGH FULBRIGHT SCHOLARS come from many different backgrounds and academic disciplines, one of the common takeaways from the experience is that the year is a time for both reflection and action. It’s a time to observe and to launch new ideas.
So, it is no surprise that during Patrick Dowd’s year as a Fulbright in India, where he helped co-lead a trip for young activists by train throughout India, has led to the launch of his latest venture, the Millennial Trains Project.
The Millennial Trains Project is a non-profit organization that empowers civic-minded Millennials here in the US to explore the country by train. During the ten-day, cross-country journey, which stops in Chicago, Millennial participants will lead seminars and projects with local community members that benefit and inspire others.
Chicagoan and former Fulbright Scholar Meghan Lazier (Hong Kong 2007-2008) is vying for a place on the train. But in order to participate in the project, each participant must crowdfund $5,000 by raising money to support a project that create community impact and can be accomplished during the ten-day journey.
As a soon-to-be MFA student in design, Meghan Lazier knew that she wanted her project to help teach community leaders the transformative power of design thinking. Design thinking is an approach that uses empathy, better brainstorming and rapid prototyping to come up with better ideas and solutions when trying to solve a problem.
As Lazier says, “By using design thinking – along with a mix of creativity and a dash of innovation – today’s leading companies have generated millions of dollars by thinking about their users and designing creative solutions. Simply put, companies that use design thinking win. They win our trust, loyalty and ultimately, our dollars. When communities learn the power of design thinking – they’ll win too. They’ll win by helping save lives by re-thinking emergency preparedness strategies, figure out how to stretch a small budget to house 50 more people each night at a homeless shelter or how to stop unwanted graffiti on a historical building. No matter what problem a community is looking to face, using design thinking will generate more win-win solutions than ever before. That’s because, design thinking beyond our comfort zones and knee-jerk reactions to problems.”
Lazier says that her experience as an Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Hong Kong and the opportunity she had to spend six weeks learning about design thinking from the co-founder of Stanford’s d.school make her well trained in how to deliver an impactful presentation and meaningful results.