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Giorgia Lupi, a renowned German visual artist once said that data represents real life, and that it is a snapshot of the world, in the same way that a picture catches a small moment in time. Perhaps she was inspired by how people’s perceptions are shaped by their interpretations of information known about each other and where they come from.

In partnership with scholars from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Maaike van Cruchten and Frank Kloos), NairoBits is participating in the Cross-cultural Data Literacy (CCDL http://crossculturaldataliteracy.org/for-participants/ project), a 22-week project running between February to June 2021 with the aim of helping students understand what data is, how it is collected and how it can be visualized across different cultures.

Over the last twelve weeks, 20 participating students have been collecting and visualizing data about healthcare. Our students selected topics such as mental health, COVID-19, gender, childbirth, sports and exercise, drug addiction and so on.. These students have been able to connect with their counterparts from all over the world including Amsterdam, China, Mexico, Indonesia, Austria, USA and India. Maxwell Olingo, a NairoBits student participant in the project, mentioned that the project has been fulfilling because he has learnt new aspects of data, how to visualize and page-document the data. The opportunity has been interesting to him through having conversations with students from other countries and cultures, and hopes to build his skills and get a deeper understanding of data.

Collaboration has been happening on Slack for organizing, and WhatsApp for connecting. Discussion forums are held continuously to share weekly tasks in relation to the different cultural backgrounds. This represents their real lives and their cultural behaviors. Students are able to undertake activities that stir curiosity and creativity through interaction and sharing of inputs and lessons from their respective cultures. To help ease the burden of program related expenses on the participants, NairoBits provides internet accessibility to the students to help with their online interactions and discussions. 

NairoBits hopes that through this project, students as well as others from across the globe in the project will be able to understand the different cultures using data to promote creativity and pride in their respective cultures. Students can look forward to being more engaged with the visual aspects of data which will make them appreciate not only the cultural diversities of this world but also educate them on the important role that data plays in all our global circle of life.

By Hope Nasali