It’s the Media, Stupid!

“Dear __,

Since you left, the Creative Kid Project has grown much bigger than we could ever expect. We wish you could help us like you did in the beginning, or at least be here to witness what it has become. From a tiny team at first, the 4 organizers are now in charge of almost 100 applications (many of which are outstanding), 12 dedicated interns, potential sponsors (from big corporations, commercial centers to small English clubs), eager journalists, forceful parents and many others. It was such a shame that all this pressing work stormed us only after you had taken a leave.”

On sending this email to one of the first people involved in CKP, who unfortunately (for us) left the Project for vacation before its takeoff, I can’t help but feeling a bit sad, like the feeling of a child who’s still holding on to her last pieces of childhood memories. After all, we are now letting go of someone so dear to the Project, who had helped a lot to make CKP what it is now. The 4 of us had pondered on this decision for at least 1 week before sending out the email.

But that would be the story of my next entry, which I would call Lesson 3: The Human’s Opportunity Cost. As mentioned last entry, this one will be about media in Vietnam.

Yes, CKP has become much bigger than I anticipated. And guess what, it was 99.99% thanks to the power of social network, online forum and in essence, just news media.

I know that for a fact, because last Sunday, during our Interview Round 1 for earliest applicants, my dad did his mini “interview” on all interviewees and asked “how did you find out about CKP?” We had to do 2 rounds of interviews (another one is coming up this week) because the number of applications for interning positions is more than what the 4 of us could manage in just 1 interview, especially for only 12 slots. Anyways, the most common answer to that question is: “Facebook”, or “a friend on Facebook”

Surprised? Guess not. Most readers of Global Conversation, I guess, are probably from someplace in the world where access to Facebook is just as easy as connecting your laptop to internet.

Yet, we are talking about Facebook in Vietnam, a country where the government has total control over internet accessibility. Just 2 days ago, I got into a panic attack because Facebook was blocked (again). Not that it was that difficult to jailbreak FB, but the very fact that I suddenly lost access to one of the main PR-sources for the Project, made me go uneasy.

And yet, difficult as it is, we manage to expand our facebook page within a matter of 1 week. As seen on picture above, our facebook page has reached a total of 69 107 people, totaling an average of more than 3000/week. The number is just unimaginable to me, especially since CKP was born only as a side project, something which not long ago felt absolutely like a much “up-in-the-air” idea. One of those very good ideas that never gets the chance to take off.

Yet, now, I found myself totally refocused my effort on CKP instead of my supposedly “main” research. Since my last entry, I have spent on average 15 hours per day (at least) working on CKP.

Even though it’s still too early to conclude anything definite, or to expect anything really extraordinary and earth-shattering about this Project, the magnitude and rapid expansion of CKP tremendously helps reassure the skeptics in me on (what I thought) the overrated “power of media”. There are a lot of summer camps for kids in Hanoi, but ours is the first of its kind to attract attention from such variety of people. We are non-profit. We establish connection with students with their very own schools, pushing them to have the guts to deal with administrators. We encourage kids’ oftentimes underappreciated creativity.

This is a rough translation of part of our “future outlook” session on our most updated proposal:

FUTURE OUTLOOK

Although this is the first time we pilot this Project, we are hoping to build a strong foundation for big, macro changes in Vietnam Education system, including:

● Build a future generation of students who could think critically about their learning environments

● Encourage students to use their innate creativity to think of ways to improve or change their education

● Encourage students’ initiatives to communicate with adults, administrators and policy-makers

● Enable them to see the real-life impact of their proposals.

Over the top? Probably. Overly ambitious? Perhaps.

Yet, the only way to have good ideas, is to have a lot of ideas. And this is our first shot to take a chance on this idea.

We will aim big.


Originally published at www.globalconversation.org on July 10, 2012.

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