Ready, set, go! The Christchurch fellowship kicked off on Monday afternoon with a buzzing cohort of 20 fellows from 6 different countries.
Bec, our city host (and UnSchool Alumni from the inaugural NYC fellowship in 2014) gathered us in the central city at Te Pou Herenga a Waka, a stunning installation that symbolizes bringing people together – an appropriate starting point for the collective journey our fellows are about to embark on.
After a brief overview of the city and program, the walking tour began with Bec and our co-producer, Nita, at the reigns. The tour highlighted innovative interventions that have been established in the central city post after the major 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, including the ReStart Mall and Arts Centre. Our final stop was conveniently our first home base for the week, ArtBox.
Once we arrived at our ArtBox, we jumped straight into getting to know everyone’s name and an insightful fact about them, by playing the UnSchool's signature kick off game, the One Legged Stand, which uses a little bit of cognitive magic to make the new information stick. With 20 fellows and 7 team members all standing on one leg, the challenge of having to process cumulative information in a physically uncomfortable situation proved that the magic trick worked - the group nailed the names and facts. Even Leyla made it around all 26 with only some slight confusion (for the first time she was challenged by a fellow to remember everyone's names and facts!) .
Then we dove straight into our mini Pecha Kucha intro sessions, with each fellow and team member having 3 minutes and 9 slides to tell us their life stories, passions and everything that floats their boats.
Craig, our co-host (UnSchool Melbourne alumni, and NZ local), used one of the slides in his presentation to give the fellows a visual preview of how they might feel at the end of the week: minds blown with ideas popping out of their heads, vomiting out glitter/amazing ideas and concepts you can’t wait to share with others, and new versions of themselves starting to emerge (but less green than in the picture). Double high five to Craig, our co-host, for his amazing visual style :)
Next, we rolled straight into a deep sustainability discussion, led by Leyla, and a series of group conversations about how we can achieve sustainability globally. Some great views were shared collectively as we teased things out.
After we wrapped the session up, we set off on an adventure around the central city. We stopped by a gigantic interactive arcade game and wandered on to meet Peter from Anteater, who had a surprise mid-walk snack to satisfy any rumbling stomachs: native farmed locusts, seasoned with garlic and chili. Even the most skeptical of fellows were amazed at how delicious they were.
We powered on, taking a moment to check out the 185 Chairs installation, paying respect to those who lost their lives in the February 2011 earthquake. We also explored the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban – it was inspiring to see the way materials can be used in innovative ways, and how Christchurch is designing for adaptive use in unique ways.
The most exciting interactive moment we shared on our first jam packed day must have been at the ‘Dance-O-Mat’, a large-scale pop-up dance floor in a repurposed space. When you pop a $2 coin into the old laundromat machine and plug your phone in, music flows through loudspeakers and you get to boogie it out in public on the dancefloor. It was the perfect opportunity for fellows to shake off the day and get their groove on (as you can see by the photos, we had a load of fun - get it?).
As our downtown city walking tour was drawing to a close, the fellows and team were happy to arrive at Thai Box for dinner as the group had worked up an appetite from all the greeting, talking, walking and thinking and dancing! This new restaurant reflects how businesses in Christchurch have been re-established through innovative architecture. With some delicious food, a glass of wine (from one of our awesome partners, Peter Yealands!) and bellies full, we called it a night after our busy first day of #unschoolNZ.
Bring on tomorrow!