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Becoming a Changemaker: OSUN Videos Spotlight Dynamic Social Entrepreneurship Projects in Palestine and Bangladesh

Originally posted on opensocietyuniversitynetwork.org. 

Around the world, OSUN Network Collaborative Courses are supporting students so they can build new social enterprises to tackle challenging issues in their countries. In addition, OSUN courses are using “experiential learning” to equip students with the media skills needed to create useful content for future OSUN classrooms but also to amplify powerful narratives of worldwide social change.

Social Entrepreneurship, a course led by Alejandro Juárez Crawford in collaboration with instructors across seven OSUN campuses, currently serves over 100 students at Al-Quds Bard College (Palestine), BRAC University (Bangladesh), Bard College Annandale (US), American University of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan), American University of Bulgaria, European Humanities University (Lithuania), and Universidad de los Andes (Colombia). 

Last summer, as part of a digital enhancement project, students and faculty from the Visual Storytelling for Civic Engagement class took hands-on learning to a new level as they created video case stories of the exciting projects developed by students from the Social Entrepreneurship class. Two of the case studies presented particularly promising solutions for some of the most persistent socio-economic problems in Palestine and Bangladesh. 

“Becoming a Changemaker: Social Entrepreneurship in Palestine,” was created by Palestine-based filmmakers Laura Menchaca Ruiz and Khader U. Handal in collaboration with Dalia Najjar, a faculty member at Al-Quds Bard College (AQB). It focuses on two award-winning student-led social impact projects, Investapeer, a digital education platform that enables students to take online courses and share skills, and CleanPalCo, a recycling and manufacturing venture.

As the powerful images and commentary in the video demonstrate, Israeli military occupation and embargoes have created systemic economic and land management problems that negatively impact the lives of Palestinians. The video shows how CleanPalCo works against that trend by recycling discarded tires and dust from stone cutting factories to create needed household products, such as bricks and rubber tiles. 

As Palestinians, using our products instead of using other countries’ products will solve a lot of problems to have our own control over our economy and to depend on ourselves,” says Ahmad Hijawi, who, with fellow students Mohammed Irzeqat, Elias Amro, and Natalia Handal, worked with international business experts to launch the award-winning company. “Palestine is occupied, so creating new businesses is hard. But the video shows powerful examples of what is possible,” adds faculty advisor Najjar.

&ldquo;Becoming a Changemaker: Social Entrepreneurship in Palestine&rdquo; depicts the launch of CleanPalCo, a student-led recycling and manufacturing company that strives to strengthen the Palestinian economy.
“Becoming a Changemaker: Social Entrepreneurship in Palestine” depicts the launch of CleanPalCo, a student-led recycling and manufacturing company that strives to strengthen the Palestinian economy.


The video goes on to examine how the tools, skills, and global networks that students accrue through taking OSUN courses such as Social Entrepreneurship not only help them navigate their daily lives but also prepare them to lead promising new civic ventures. It explains how RebelBase, an online project tracking platform that helps students develop and test their ideas while getting input from peers, experts, and resource providers, allowed students at AQB to tackle the twin problems of pollution and supply chain blockage.
 
Social Entrepreneurship co-instructor Eliza Edge says the feedback-based technology and global dynamics of the class allow students to absorb different viewpoints that make their work excel. “Students who might have nothing in common–who would never, ever meet–are now joined together because they share…a passion.. and from there they unlock many other similarities,” she says.  
 
Similarly, the narrator of “Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs of Bangladesh” asks “How can young people who see the opportunity to change systems around them for the better develop an idea and test its validity in the real world?”  The Bangladesh-based video case study, created by BRAC University students Nazia Zafrin and Tanzil Talat Anonto and overseen by BRACU professor Dina Hossain, highlights projects borne out of Social Entrepreneurship and Leading Change for Sustainability, a course that is part of the OSUN Certificate in Social Enterprise + Leading Change. The video points out how student projects address social problems that affect both the early and later stages of life in the country.

The first half of the video features Safety Net, a social enterprise project developed by students Shanila MehjabinShezami Khalil and faculty member Sebastian Groh, that provides accessible retirement funds for aging Bangladeshis. Mehjabin and Khalil explain why, as Bangladesh evolves into a country with middle-income status and increased life expectancy, it is more important than ever to equip Bangladeshis with the knowledge and skills they need to invest in reliable retirement plans.

The video also profiles Roots, a student-led initiative supporting community-based independent daycare hubs that provide education and nourishment to marginalized children in Dhaka. Sakib Ahmed, a BRACU alumni who developed the Roots initiative with fellow alumni Abu Sifat Mahmud, says “We wanted to do something from the roots so that children in the future can contribute more to education, more to society.” 

Edge goes on to explain that the courses are so successful because they enable students to build on common values while encouraging them to share skills as they pursue joint goals. “The experience is absolutely finding similarities with your teammates,” she says, “but then identifying what it is in you that drives you and makes your contribution to the team so important.”

Click here to watch these and other videos from the Visual Storytelling for Civic Engagement course.

Post Date: 12-06-2022