I collaborated with Nikita Jain, an educator and visual designer, in creating a workshop, ‘Mapping Communities’ for Sukrupa, an organization that provides primary and secondary education to underprivileged children and youth. Working with Sukrupa allowed us to unpack and explore the concept of ‘community’ using mapmaking with 18 middle school students. The learning outcomes for the five-day workshop were to understand why we make and use maps, and to identify, collect, sort and visualize their experiences. Over the five days, we explored mapmaking as a tool and a practice, collected data from walks in their neighborhood, and exhibited the data visualizations and students’ thoughts on the future(s) of their community.
This teaching experience encouraged me to observe and challenge my research practice. The students were able to quickly adapt to a new way of looking at their everyday environment. They easily took on the role of the researcher and were able to seamlessly integrate the perceived needs of their community with the new questions that emerged from the research they conducted, allowing me to witness an astute yet compassionate outlook which I aspire to embody.