This was it. Ten days of immersion into a different country, a different continent and a different culture. Yes, it was stressful. Yes, those were long days. But if there is one thing we have learned from the friendly people of Rwanda, it is that there are things that all human beings seem to have in common. Once you open yourself up, people respond and return this openness many times.
Twenty teams competed but in the end everybody was a winner. 130 young people joined a common idea: To spark a little light of change by learning and practicing design thinking. A light to be carried on by the Rwandan participants and a light to be carried over to India where the Impact Week Delhi is taking place now.
We gave our best to make this Impact Week a personal success for all Rwandan participants, as well as all their junior and senior coaches. The quality of the final presentations showed that fun at work and serious results are not mutually exclusive. The engaging local speakers confirmed that you can take your fate in your own hands. Your place in life does not depend on anybody else but yourself and the living proof was right in front of our eyes.
We can be proud of the community that we reached with this year's Impact Week, as well as of the ideas that evolved during this edition. One of the jury members said that he is going to implement one of our projects off the spot with the support of NIRDA, the government funded innovation agency of Rwanda. We keep our fingers crossed that this will only be the first of a whole series.
Unfortunately we will have to watch this from a distance. As proud parents, we have tought our children how to walk and it is time to let them stand on their own feet.
Looking at the way the coaches and their teams departed after those intense days together gives you a warm feeling. Tears were shed. Long hugs showed the tight bonds of newly formed friedships. Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp will help to keep in touch but it was clear that for many of us it will be a farewell forever. There's no need to be sad. Our friends will make their way for sure.
However, it was not only the individual performance of the coaches that formed the results. For a big part, it was the community itself that drove the attitude. Cold showers, bunk beds and long bus drives could not compete against the team spirit that emerged from laughing and living together far outside of our comfort zones.
Now that most of us have returned to our respective countries, families and homes, we can look back at these ten days as a colorful episode in our lives or we can make this mindset that we developed an ongoing part of our future. Decide for yourself what is more tempting.