The Final Stretch: Qataliza & teary goodbyes

Milica Pavlovic recently returned from three months with RADIUS and Slingshot Venture Youth In Development in Quito, Ecuador. You can read more about her experiences here.
While all of my time in Ecuador flew by way too quickly, the final weeks were especially hectic in preparation for the RADIUS’ & Impacto Quito trail blazing bootcamp: Qataliza. Our 12 hour bootcamp for young, aspiring change-makers was scheduled for April 11th, with my departure date looming on April 14th. Tasked with creating all the resources for the participants’ packages and planning the execution of various other elements of the Qataliza agenda, my last two weeks definitely provided new learning experiences in design, graphics, organizational skills, and team work.84-DSC_9247Based on Human Centered Design and SEEN methodology, Qataliza combined elements of both “ideation” and “social enterprise” bootcamps;  it first compelled participants to seek out their passions and purpose, and then allowed them to explore meaningful solutions using social enterprise tools like rapid prototyping and the social business model canvas. In just 12 hours, Qataliza aimed to turn “ideas into action” by engaging participants in a carefully selected sequence of impactful exercises led by our amazing facilitators David Lamka and Leonello Bertini.
37-DSC_8987Once participants had completed exercises to expose the problems that they were most passionate about, teams were formed based on common interests. For the rest of the bootcamp, the teams and their chosen problem/interest area would serve as an example upon which to apply the social enterprise tools in the second half of Qataliza. The 6 teams formed within Qataliza reflected very diverse problems, including: child labour and informal work, the elderly, neglected animals, the reintegration of ex-convicts into society, recycling and environmental consciousness, and business enhancement.12-DSC_8890For me, one of the most rewarding moments occurred at the very end of the bootcamp, when several participants approached the Impacto team and expressed their gratitude for this opportunity. After a mentally, physically, and emotionally demanding 12 hour day, it was amazing to witness a room full of high-energy participants who were genuinely excited about all they had achieved within Qataliza. This positive feedback was further re-iterated in the next few days when participants submitted formal feedback via e-mail, with many stressing that Qataliza had equipped them with the practical skills and resources to move forward with their ideas! After several long and challenging weeks of work in areas where I previously had very little expertise, I was thrilled that Qataliza had such an incredible impact on our first cohort of bootcampers, and humbled to have played a central role in that experience.
81-DSC_9238In the following three days, my post-Qataliza energy was disrupted by the abrupt realization that I would soon have to leave Quito and all the people I had just spent 3 months with. With a heavy heart, I tearfully said goodbye/see you later to my amazing new friends and a beautiful country. It is only fitting to wrap up this blog with a quick shout-out to the Impacto crew and all the other incredible people I met along the way: thanks for everything, I miss you so much already, and I will see you in the future!