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Creating impulses

Alumni-Workshop Artifacts and Traditional Craft
Goethe-Institut Cairo/Christina Büns

The alumni of the Dialogue & Transition projects are very diverse and have participated in many different projects. They are however united by some interests, as was shown for example when they came together around seemingly heterogeneous topics.

The roundtable discussion "Art objects and traditional handcraft" took place at the end of September and brought together a dozen alumni in an informal atmosphere. "Handcraft is an interesting topic which generates many interesting discussions", comments host Ali Azmi, who directed the evening.

The alumni brought many questions. How can I use handcraft in schools and teach it to young people? an alumnus of the Egypt Training Academy wanted to know, for example. How can I earn money with handcraft? And how can I set a price for my own hand work? were also among the questions which emanated from other Dialogue & Transition participants. For instance, Mai Abbassi, Coordinator of Goethe-Institut Alumni Events, asked about how to protect one's own work from plagiarism.

Finding solutions together

These questions were answered in discussions with the alumni by (among others) Mahmoud Safwat from Creative Egypt, the designer Kristy Raouf and Hossam El Shafei, who works in the field of project management, entrepreneurship and durable development programs. They all assisted the participants both in word and deed.

The very different fields of work of the participants not only did not pose a problem but was in fact beneficial. "For example, an NGO employee found out how they could implement a project without State assistance", according to the host, Ali, who continues: "Thereupon, an alumnus who works in a Ministry interjected and asked how he could reach NGOs and projects on site". Thus interest was expressed in working together and in implementing collaborative activities.
All alumni were very in the discussion. Goethe-Institut Cairo

Meeting challenges

The roundtable generated lively debate of problems such as marketing. A participant asked why not more handcraft was being sold in Egypt, when so much handcraft art already exists there. 
"To sell something, you need an innovative and creative product", explains Mahmoud Safwat. "In Egypt we have a large spectrum of handwork - but it has in fact been the same old range for years".

The designer Kristy Raouf brought some of her own bags to inspire the discussion evening. She learned everything on her own: "It you want to learn it properly, you've got to just try it out", she says. Many of the alumni are already attempting to create small artistic and cultural objects. However, for most of them, until now it has been just a hobby. And so the evening not only brought about important impulses for collaboration, but it also encouraged the participants to "just do it". Learning by doing.
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