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  • Writer's pictureMerve


Updated: May 2, 2018

Last week, team BTB packed our suitcases, blew the dust off our passports and jumped on a flight to run one of our key initiatives, Decafe, in a flagship Starbucks store in Lyon, bringing together a diverse group of students, teachers and policy makers.

The event came as a result of the Ashoka Changemaker Education summit which took place in Lyon in January, and brought together key stakeholders from around the world to focus on the future of education.

There, co-founder and CEO of Bite The Ballot, Michael Sani, spoke about his own experiences creating safe spaces for experiential learning and community engagement in the UK and Colombia. The municipality and other stakeholders then decided to collaborate to import Sani’s methodology to Lyon, working with Starbucks (who provided a flagship store and free refreshments for guests), to create an evening of lively debate and insightful discussion.

On arrival, we were greeted by the French team and spent the day with them, training them up to become DeCafe facilitators, (and consuming a fair amount of cheese, pastries and wine along the way...when in France eh?).

In the evening we arrived at the store, nervous and excited - how well would our workshop that we have been running domestically for years fare in another country? Colombia has been a colossal success, but how well would it be received in France?

The store was soon buzzing with people as the DeCafe kicked off. Although nobody from BTB can speak French, it was clear from the frantic arm waving and intense discussion that everyone was feeling very passionate and inspired. Later, the facilitators commented on how useful and insightful the discussions they’d had had been, which was amazing to hear.

Even more promising, was that as we wrapped up the event, everyone spilled out on the the roads outside, eager to continue the debate. We all went to bed that night feeling incredibly tired but also thrilled and accomplished. Already there is talks of arranging more events in Lyon to continue the discussion which is great - we always want BTB events to inspire participants to go forward and create their own events, connecting with their own local community.


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