• Jerrid P. Kalakay

Episode 29 - The Change Maker Journey with Mentor Dida Part 2

In this episode, Mentor Dida of the International organization Ashoka explains how he and others developed the Change Maker Journey template that is utilized around North America in the K-12 Education system by Ashoka to create change makers.

Biography of Mentor Dida

I’m a people person who always gets excited about new ideas and possibilities to design meaningful solutions to advance humanity. Advancing humanity is dear to my heart because after having lived through the 1999 Kosovo war, I realized that the real problems were not the people who caused the problems, but those who did not do anything about them. I’m a firm believer that all of our problems are just opportunities that we have not designed the right solutions yet; what we need is some more empathy, sophisticated teamwork, collaborative leadership, and changemaking.

During high school, I found a deep appreciation for physics. It is a science that aims to make things simple and explain why things happen the way they do. That was the reason why I chose to study engineering, and I ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Alternative Energy Technologies from Arizona State University (ASU).

While I was an engineering student, I had a realization that moved me profoundly and was the reason why I chose to dedicate my time on advancing humanity. That moment triggered an inner drive in me to take many leadership roles, including co-founding five student organization, leading a university initiative, serving as a student senator, and co-founding two non-profit organizations. I continued to pursue a graduate degree in Global Technology and Entrepreneurship at ASU. My graduate thesis was studying the human-centered design approach to problem-solving; where I got to explore ways people come up with compelling ideas. ASU provided incredible recognitions including Valedictorian, Graduate Commencement Student Speaker, the prestigious Pitchfork award as the Outstanding Graduate Student Leader, Lean Six Sigma Black, and Green Belt, and more.

All of this led me to Ashoka, the world’s pioneer network of system-changing social entrepreneurs, and its mission to catalyze a future in which everyone has the necessary tools and knowledge to drive change for the good of all.


#ashoka #asu


Jerrid Kalakay 0:09

Welcome to the teaching change podcast where we explore issues of social entrepreneurship, education, and innovation. I'm your host Jerrid Kalakay. On today's episode, we're speaking with Mentor Dida who is senior, Ashoka intrapreneur. This is part two of our discussion with mentor.

Mentor Dida 0:25

Right. So yeah, I started asking them questions. And what I found out recently, and we had a group of six interns from the Brigham Young University New Town, they're also a change maker campus. They were interviewing and supporting me with this, this investigation. And what we found is that there are these very interesting patterns that happen. The first one was what we call the spark. How do people start their Changemaker journey, and this was in many ways, but it was clear that there was this moment this something that actually sparked people into their Changemaker journey. And that spark comes in many forms. One is, if you're empathizing with a problem, somebody said, a you know, my sister was coming home, and she was being bullied every time. So he felt the pain that his sister is feeling through empathy, and then said, I'm going to put an end to this. And that's, that's where, you know, when you feel somebody, then you have the drive to take action. So that's one way to get this. Another one is another way to get a spark is to actually meet somebody who inspires you so much. This is where, you know, like that Dean, for example, or an entrepreneur, a change maker parents, somebody is a good role model for you, that inspires you to become like them. Right? Yeah, that's, that's another way to start this Spark. Or being in an environment where everybody's doing this. If your parents are change makers, if your friends are change makers, it's very hard for you not to actually be in that journey and find that spark that you have it and move forward. So that helps a lot there. And also, one more is to find what you're good at. Somebody said I was very good at public speaking, and I was determining to use that for good. So you know, they found that skill. So that's the sport. Those are like some patterns that we found on how people started their Changemaker journey. Okay. Then the other question was, okay, so when this spark happened to you, what was the first action you took, right? Because we're talking about action, if you have the spark in your mind, that's great. But without taking action, you're actually don't go through this process, and you don't self actualize as a Changemaker in this sense. So then I asked, okay, what was the action you took? And some of them said, you know, what I went and try to understand the problem better. Somebody else was saying all you know, I went and started volunteering for solving this, or somebody else said, I started actually developing an idea, I came up with an idea to solve this problem. Somebody else said, I wrote an article about this, I made the song, you know, all these are the first actions that they take, and they're very important to go from spark to this action. Now, when I asked them, okay, so you took that action and What kept you going? Why did you continue to take action? Because many stuff? Right? Oh, they take one action didn't work. They stopped.

Jerrid Kalakay 3:57

Yeah, yeah,

Mentor Dida 3:58

absolutely. Why they continue, youth was the third stage of the Changemaker journey, which was appreciation. Somebody came in this young persons or in this person's life, and said, what you're doing this action that you're writing songs for helping others is beautiful, and the world needs it. Please continue. Right? If If you get some sorts of that type of validation, what happens in you is just like what happened to me, in this case, the dean told me, I can make my idea happen. And we underestimate how powerful that is. I've heard so many stories, that just one sentence of teacher professors to a person, their life changed because of it. And that's what I'm talking about this validation that tells you you can do it. Parents have a huge responsibility here, because parents are always protective here is risking a little bit, right? You're saying like, yes, this is strange. We don't know what this is. But go ahead. This is for the good of all, we trust you. Right, yeah. or teachers or whoever can provide this validation. It comes in many forms can be a prize, a discussion, a word, an award, whatever that is, but that's where validation happen. And then after this point, they are actually moving to change because after you validate them, they will not stop. It's not going to be Yeah, look, I got this award. Now. I'm done. Now everybody's as in the sense, expecting them to drive and advance in this. And that's the beauty. They want to make the case and they want to prove to everybody. So that's the next stage in the Changemaker journey, the fourth stage, which is the change, this is where they actually dive into creating exchange. When you dive in, you're going to see that you need the team. So you're trying to talk to people to friends, you're thinking about, okay, what is the solution? How does this work, in your engaging into driving change, whether it's with your music, whether with your idea with your venture, whether it is with your community, volunteering, whatever that is, but this is where you're actually creating change. And in this stage, you self actualize as a change maker. So in this stage, you become you come to a place that there's no more coming back, if you create a change once then you know, that you can create change in life, anytime, anywhere. So after this point, you become a change maker citizen, that whatever the problems are going to be, you're going to actually not just be a bystander of it. Because the the real enemies in life are not the people who cause the problems, but those who don't do anything about it. Right. Yes, that's, that's what this addresses right to to increase the number of people who are who creates change. So that's the journey. That's how it came to be. And that's what it is. And this has been, when we got the interviews, and we feel good this out. We tested it. It's been a very interesting learning curve for all of us on how to actually bring about this to more people. But yeah, that's that's pretty much it.

Jerrid Kalakay 7:11

Wow. And then and then that change goes either in the direction of social entrepreneur, ship, or social entrepreneurship. So yeah, so the the Changemaker then either becomes a social entrepreneur, in which they create an enterprise or organization and they run it, or they become a social entrepreneur in which they go work within a system to bring about change. And from within,

Mentor Dida 7:39

yes, yes, or, or they even just become a doctor, they become a teacher, they become whatever they can be, you know, like this is where maybe their idea that they took with them when they were younger, or when they had that spark initially, or the idea that they came up with, it's still not going, this is not a venture, right? They're not launching a social project and sticking up with it. This is an internal journey. So when they reach the point of a Changemaker, they can become powerful citizens. But if they want to advance their idea, and actually tried to create change in large scale, and actually move into this full time role of bringing change, systematic change and advance into this level of impact that bill spoke about, you say want to then there's the social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship journeys. And those we know about, you know, how to actually come from an idea, okay, we're in this one place, how to advance that how to increase impact how to scale. So that's a another component, a direction where this journey can lead to, we don't say everyone is social entrepreneur, that is impossible. But we believe that everybody should be in the place that they can create change in whatever they're doing. They want to advance that social entrepreneur, social entrepreneur.

Jerrid Kalakay 9:10

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I love it. I think it's, it's fantastic. I think it, it captures so much of the journey that we've heard on this program, and on the show so eloquently. One of the things I learned in in graduate school is that the more simplistic something is, of a theory or an idea, the more complex and the better the idea is. And so what reason why I mentioned that is because when you outline the Changemaker journey, and you talk about it, it sounds like second nature, it sounds so. So simple. Of course, that's the way it works. And that in the in the beauty of it is what made it makes it so complex and so difficult to actually articulate in the way that you have.

Mentor Dida 10:04

Yeah, it is, it is a little bit difficult to articulate. I think that that's it I, you know, being an engineer, one thing that I learned is simplicity. Yes, you know, you have to make complex things very simple for people to understand. I was a physics tutor for some time. And I think that's what I got from that. Yeah. But yeah, like, we hope, you know, and this could be, we've been exploring this, like, how can somebody in the higher education, for example, use this journey to support their students? Yes. Right. How can you create a program or some sort of a class or something that actually is based on this research driven approach towards having students become change makers? And that's something we always grappling with?

Jerrid Kalakay 10:54

Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, and I think there's probably a million answers to that question, based on text and where everything is. What's neat about my homework at Valencia College is that and, and also, my time at Rollins college, is that so much of that journey, is


almost second nature, that it wasn't necessarily intentionally created, because it was part of the journey, but rather, people intuitively knew administrators and faculty and staff knew that they needed to provide these kinds of opportunities. And so it's, it's really neat to see kind of a validation of that intuition that I've, I've felt and many others have felt for providing these kind of opportunities for students. So, so mentor now, now that you've, you've created this, and it's been, you know, it's been widely widely shared, and you're working on this and so forth. I want to ask you going back to your original Spark, of wanting to create that high school in Kosovo for for change making? Where is that plan? And and how is it morphed? How is it changed? And how does it apply to what you're doing now? As as a professional with a Shoko?

Mentor Dida 12:19

Well, you know that that that's a tough question. Because it's almost like an internal dilemma I face. And it is because you know, I am from Kosovo, but I live in us in the the main reason why I'm in us is that I feel that the world needs this, even though Kosovo needs this too. But having me going through all these experiences that life has brought me, I feel that actually being in us, and trying to influence change here is more important. More important, didn't work. Then actually focusing on Kosovo, even though I work a lot on Kosovo, I have a lot of initiatives and stuff there. But also, my dream has evolved, has evolved is not the high school anymore, or a university, my dream has evolved into into framework, which is, you know, because if you have a university, that's great, but if you actually have everybody feel that the most important thing that they can do, in course, is to support young people to be change makers. So that is what where I am playing right now that that is the level of impact I'm trying to do to help people realize and understand that they need to support their kids to be changed makers, because that's the only way the only way Kosovo is going to be able to to try. And this is not just the case. For Kosovo, this is the case globally. The best, like the best measure of success for any society going forward, is what percentage of your people are change makers. And there's very good reasons for this. Because if we look at jobs that require repetition, or memorization, which is actually two of the main pillars of, of the industrial age, what when education, higher education started, in a sense was to actually prepare people so that they can go to a factory to repeat a certain process that they learned, and to apply the memory memorization and all those and that has been successful, because has created so many opportunities for employment for so many people, you know that this was the case. But today, we don't even know what the jobs of five years from now we're going to be. If we think of today, we have one of the most demanded jobs, Social Media Manager. Yeah, social media did not exist 10 years ago, you know, if you think about it is where who could have predicted that today, you can actually be an Uber driver. Yeah, or you, you can be an argument at reality engineer. Like those things cannot be really predicted. That's why learning how to engage with change is critical. And not only engage with change, but engage and push that change for the good of everyone. Because we need change, we need to actually evolve this species and come to a place that there's no more wars, there's more agreements, more dialogues more, not peace, more joy. More will be that's that's what actually we need. And to achieve that we need to change the mindset to redefine success, especially if not for every all adults. For the young people who are growing up right now we owe it to them, to support them to change how we define success for them. Because the schools, the data shows are not doing that many schools are, are leading to students having more mental health issues, and so forth. So I feel like globally, this is a very relevant conversation to have. So that's why I am you know, a little bit dilemma, because I'm hearing us doing all this thinking globally, but give my country of course of all is there crying for help trying my best day or so it's it's this balance that I'm playing?

Jerrid Kalakay 16:48

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And and you're going for system wide systemic change.

Mentor Dida 16:55

Yes. systematic and framework?

Yes. Yes. What, which is, which is incredibly difficult?

Yes, it is difficult. It is very difficult, especially, you know, if most of the funders, here's an example, recently, we had our team retreat, but they're looking for direct impact. They're looking for how many people how many workshops you did, how many things you did, we're building a movement. And it's it's hard to measure when a company says, or an organization says, Yes, we're going to support with this, you cannot just take it, you know, say Oh, yeah, their support. What does that mean? How do you know, what's the outcome? You know? So it's, it's a movement, long term game. And it's it's a difficult to, to express and for people to understand, so that that's a challenge we have. But our theme is, I'm very thankful for the people at the show car. They're so driven, so smart, so caring. So I'm very thankful to be part of the team here.

Jerrid Kalakay 17:57

Yes, yes. Well, we are teaching change. Thank you. And and Ashoka for all the amazing work that you all are doing. We we know, it's like pushing a boulder up a hill. And it's certainly grueling and very difficult work. But it's so needed in our world.

Mentor Dida 18:13

Ya know, you see, like, when we see people like you in this teaching change, and the change maker campuses, and all these communities, what they're doing is that is actually we feel we want, you know, we feel like we're actually it's working. Because if if people are not seeing the value of this, then what happens is we feel like is there actually in Valley? Are we talking about the value or the society see this. And then we see an initiative happening at Rawlings and you see an initiative, have it in here and this and this. And we're like, actually, people are in this movement, too. So we're not leaving a movement. We're just directing it in a sense. We're saying look at these people. Look how amazing they are. And let's see, let's promote, let's focus on the good. In this sense, let's learn from them. So so I'm very grateful that you and others are actually in this journey with us.

Jerrid Kalakay 19:11

Absolutely. You've been listening to the teaching change podcast where we explore she's a social entrepreneurship education and innovation. Today we are speaking with Mentor Dida senior Ashoka, entrepreneur on his Changemaker journey. Till next time, be nice and change some stuff.

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