I just came from a home visit to meet the student newly-sponsored by Seesaw (the wonderful graphic design and branding geniuses who have partnered with St Jude’s to help us achieve our new look on a pro-bono basis). She’s in Grade 1 and doesn’t speak much English yet, but I communicated with her by drawing pictures of trees and animals in the window condensation, eliciting some smiles. It was pouring outside which created pools in the dirt roads, but after a bumpy ride, the student, the translator, Mzee, and I made it.
Seeing the mother swelling with pride over her daughter going to St Jude’s was a beautiful experience. It showed me that her education matters not just abstractly the way it might for you and me but in a way that will completely change and uplift the family. (She’s already passing on information by tutoring her younger sister.) There’s hope in the mother’s eyes when her daughter shares her aspirations to become a doctor but not without the recognition that it’ll be hard work which she makes clear to me.
As a designer, it’s a unique experience to see the direct impacts of the organisation I’m working with. Normally, I finish a project and move on to the next without much feedback beyond a short email. Working on location at St Jude’s has been completely different from working remotely in Melbourne—I see the full life cycle of St Jude’s mission when I work with interns who have graduated from the school. Their stories of rising out of extreme poverty to receiving acceptances into international universities are almost unbelievable.
Working here as a designer, there’s not much to complain about. Both my Australian and Tanzanian co-workers have welcomed me heartily. Since we’re all here as part of a bigger vision, the collaboration is natural. Plus, it’s a new and valuable opportunity to work within a marketing team instead of a group of designers. When working on a design team, the importance of look is elevated, but being here exercises my skills on clarity and function in relation to our target audience more so than anything else. The lesson of communicating with co-workers who have skills outside of design in order to reach a common goal has been invaluable, and I’ve only been here for a few weeks. I can’t wait to keep learning, to keep seeing the success of the students, and to keep designing.