Hack for 2030: Creative Problem Solving Across Borders

Hack for 2030 successfully concluded last weekend at the HI Boston hostel and proved yet again the power of travel to bring diverse millennials together under one roof, this time for creative problem solving.

The idea for a hackathon was hatched 8 months ago following a successful Merit360 event held in New York City. Merit360 engaged hundreds of young people from around the globe about United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including gender equality, climate change, education and responsible tourism. Hack for 2030 was co-designed by Wanderbrief, World Merit and HI USA to move forward some of the promising ideas to their implementation.

Seventeen millennial developers, creatives and changemakers from 10 countries responded to the call. They included participants from Australia, Belize, Cambodia, Canada, India, Liberia, Netherlands, Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Hack for 2030 involved a special brand of “hacking”, which is all about creative problem solving around an opportunity or challenge, in this case, SDGs. It takes the form of a marathon sprint called a hackathon. “Hacking around borders” is how Ramin Bahari, 30, described the event. Ramin, a creative from Amsterdam, made a six-hour transatlantic flight to the USA because of the opportunity to volunteer with an international mix of millennials towards a common goal.

Teams cook dinner together in Boston hostel kitchen.     Credit: J. Bruck

The Boston hackathon was a 48-hour sprint, with time beforehand for a community service project and for social activities with other global travelers staying at the hostel. The hackers also enjoyed more creature comforts than usual during this hackathon, with comfy beds and hot meals from the hostel’s kitchen replacing the more typical fare of sleeping bags and take-out pizza.

Teams of hackers were organized to tackle one of four projects: a radio program to make educational resources more accessible for Nepalese youth, an initiative to deliver feminine hygiene products to women in Nepal and India, a bus to rove rural areas in Africa and educate about climate change, and an app for the UN World Tourism Organization to raise awareness about the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Teams of hackers were organized to tackle one of four projects: a radio program to make educational resources more accessible for Nepalese youth, an initiative to deliver feminine hygiene products to women in Nepal and India, a bus to rove rural areas in Africa and educate about climate change, and an app for the UN World Tourism Organization to raise awareness about the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Jessica Lomasson, 26, a US participant from New York City, described the hackathon as an opportunity to “reinvigorate passion, use what we know, and do something with it that matters”. The teams had experts to draw on for counsel; for example, HI USA’s sustainability coordinator advised on environmental topics.

What I will remember most is the chemistry among the participants. Strangers just five days before, these millennials from all corners of the world gathered for a purpose larger than themselves. And when I joined them for final project presentations, they delivered meaningful results with enthusiasm and creativity, something I have come to expect with international exchanges like this.

Hack for 2030 shows how diverse ideas and fresh dialogue can yield shared problem solving and out-of- the-box solutions. In this world, we need more of both.

 

This post was first published in my HuffPost blog on 1 February 2017

By |2018-04-05T21:19:23+00:00February 2nd, 2017|Our Community, Thoughts From the Road|Comments Off on Hack for 2030: Creative Problem Solving Across Borders

About the Author:

Since 2000, Russ has been the CEO of Hostelling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around. The HI USA hostel network is consistently recognized as one of the best in world by the International Youth Hostel Federation and by independent rating agencies. Russ has been a featured speaker at national and international conferences on topics ranging from experiential education to nonprofit management. Russ serves on the Boards of the UNWTO, US Travel Association, and WYSTC.