The winners of last year’s bi-communal Innovation Camp travelled to the US to take part in the Creative Entrepreneurship Summer Program organised by the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Brown Leadership Institute.
The 2-week summer camp, which took place from 5-15 July, offered a unique exploration of entrepreneurship and leadership through the lens of creativity. The summer camp was a singular opportunity to gain hands-on experience on cross-discipline collaboration that fosters innovative thinking and creating through a learning environment that encouraged exploration and personal growth. The program succeeded in inspiring and engaging students to make a positive difference in their communities and the world. Lessons on creativity, entrepreneurship, leadership and social change were delivered by leading professionals in each field: entrepreneurs, innovations, designers and leaders in the music and startup industries. Eftychia Constantinou (The English School, Nicosia), Ayhan Gazioglou (Doga College, Famagusta) and Maria Polykarpou (The Grammar School, Nicosia) participated in the program and were accompanied by JA Cyprus staff member, Elena Michael. The team from Cyprus distinguished themselves among their peers – a group of 22 young adults from across 5 continents. By the end of the summer camp, the participants felt motivated and empowered to make things happen in their own country. Participation in the camp was made possible thanks to the generous support of the American Embassy in Cyprus.
The knowledge I have gained in these past few weeks cannot be quantified. It’s not only factual knowledge but also knowledge about myself, my surroundings and the world in general. To begin with, by listening to the life stories of successful and influential innovators I came to the realization that success does not come overnight. Ground-breaking ideas, fortunately or unfortunately, don’t grow on trees; inspiration doesn’t hit you suddenly; you are the determining factor of success and change. It’s in your hands to create the conditions for a masterpiece to happen. Necessary ingredients for the recipe of success are passion, systematic hard work, as well as faith in your abilities. The process of creation does not consist of only experimentation or iteration but rather interactive experimentation, a mixture of improvisation and thoughtful planning. We came to realize that collaboration is vital in the process of creation. There is a limit to what you can achieve alone; however, when you are open to advice, when you observe your surroundings and what is already out there as well as when you combine your powers with another individual you are a step closer to creating a masterpiece with the potential of changing the game. In conclusion, through this conventionally odd combination of leadership and creative entrepreneurship, I challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone and widen my horizons. The most important lesson I learned from this unforgettable experience was undoubtedly to not be afraid of taking risk and not allowing stereotypes to narrow my potentials.
This summer school has given me a lot: friendship, love for music, experiencing Boston and US culture, as well as the opportunity to meet people from different countries. People learn from experiences and being open to new things and new ideas. This opportunity has helped me witness the importance of that. You gave us a chance to try both seeing and living experiences and this gave me a different perspective for life and I am very delighted to have this chance. I met famous and knowledgeable people who I would not have had the chance to meet them on my own. I saw one of the most beautiful cities in America. The inspiration and empowerment we had from the summer camp will be with us always and help us go further in life.
“We need stop trying to be interesting and instead be interested in what’s around us”. The phrase spoken during a visual thinking speech struck a chord within me in those first few days as I realized my outlook on life had already been improved. [Participating in the program] was a humbling chapter in my life in which I was taught to appreciate the creative process that comes before an entrepreneurial venture, as well as how to give back to the community and improve the world around me. The people that helped bring the program to life were truly one of the most inspiring people out there, which reminded me to stay focused, motivated and that, to survive in the creative world, one must always be adaptable to change. I shall cherish the memories I have forever with all the friends I made along the way, from every part of the world and they – through their different cultures and ways – showed me a new way of thinking about the world and I would like to believe that I did the same for them. Using all the tools I was given throughout the experience I will strive to improve my own community.