Striving to Excel

JRS intern Sam*, one of the pioneer graduates from our E3 CCNA Professional course, took on a new role last year — putting together a 2-week Microsoft/Google workshop (MS/GW) for refugee students. He tells us more about the new programme which is curated, taught and run by refugee interns all ready to teach others in the refugee community.

When the MS/GW was first proposed, my main task was to put together a programme which is both comprehensive and applicable so that even participants with little or no knowledge and experience of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace could benefit.

As the facilitator for the workshops, I have come to expect students from different backgrounds with varied IT experience. There are some students who have little or no knowledge and some with a fairly good grasp of IT apps and software. So, it is very important to deliver the materials in a way that can be understood by all students.

I try to ensure that the entire workshop is interesting and informative. Students have shared that they find the materials useful and we have received positive feedback at the end of workshops as well. There are students who like specific topics in the course, such as how to work with PivotTables in Microsoft Excel, sharing and collaborating their work and assignments online via cloud (Microsoft OneDrive & Google Cloud), and last but not the least the final challenge (Application Presentation). I think this is the most challenging but also the most interesting component of the workshop. This application presentation is done on the final two days. Using the knowledge which they acquired over the course of the workshop, students are assigned raw data and asked to create a 15-minute individual presentation. They will take turns to present to the class, and the student with the most outstanding presentation and performance during the workshop wins the Best Student Award!

Samples of the Application Presentations done by the students.

I remember during the first run of these workshops there were multiple students who had shown good potential. The competition between the candidates was very tight and I found it very difficult to choose just one participant for the Best Student Award. But of course, we did manage to select a well deserving candidate in the end. When I reflect on how well the assignments were completed, I am really happy with the positive results. It is really important to me to see the students do well despite the challenges they face.

There are two main challenges which we often face during these workshops. Some students who are unable to participate because they do not own a device of their own; and for students who may have access to a device, they may not have Microsoft Office to work with. This makes it difficult for them to participate fully in the sessions. But we will keep thinking of solutions to overcome these challenges because I hope that more from the refugee community can benefit from such workshops!

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.