Travelling to Qatar to deliver the first Taqaddam workshops, I was both excited and nervous. Qatar was a long way from home and I had no idea what to expect. My head was full of questions about what holding this first Taqaddam workshop would be like: would the students be enthusiastic? Would the workshop be a success? Only time would tell.
My co-facilitator Dan and I spent two days in Qatar working with groups of 15-16 year olds from various local schools. The schools are segregated so we delivered to a group of young men on one day, followed by a group of young women on the second day. The workshop helped the young people to identify and articulate their character strengths. I focused on creativity, what it means and how we can incorporate it successfully into a satisfying and inspiring future.
Interestingly, there were some apparent differences between the boys and girls’ approach to the workshop. Broadly speaking, the boys responded more competitively and the girls more cooperatively. The boys even asked me if they had done better than the girls in their workshop! Of course I told them the truth—that both groups were great, in different ways.
I was truly touched by the girls’ sense of community and their desire to share resources with one another. One young woman revealed that she wanted to be a human rights lawyer, specialising particularly in women’s rights. Another expressed her dream to solve the issue of sustainable energy for the planet.
There was a strong sense of energy and vitality coming from the boys’ group. They were very humorous but remained polite and conscientious throughout. While the discussion began quite lightly and they expressed how proud of their schools they are, the reflections they eventually shared about their thoughts on creativity were genuinely humble.
There was a real sense in the workshops that, in today’s society, we may be lacking the ability to truly listen, trust and learn from one another. A feeling of connection is essential for creativity to flourish in the wider community.
One thing that particularly stood out was how creativity means finding the characteristic about yourself that makes you special and stand out, and how we should not be afraid of being judged. One participant said he realised that, while he hadn’t thought of himself as creative prior to the workshop, he now knew he was creative because he was a problem-solver.
Of course, creativity is essential for cooperative problem-solving, and both groups quickly caught on to the idea that creativity is not exclusive, nor does it require a rare originality unavailable to most people. Creativity is taking something very simple that already exists, and making it your own, making it extraordinary.
I felt uplifted and inspired after the workshop—spurred on by the hope, intelligence and confidence exhibited by the young people taking part, and the sense of connection that we built together. It was an honour to see them paving the way for a creative, bright future.
Reflections by Priya Ghai