Chandler, Mary Kate
School of Public Health - International Health
The Design Difference: Bye, Bye Boring Statistics! Join our tribe of thinkers & creatives in Maputo
The intern/opportunist will work with Visualst, a public-interest data design firm based in Maputo, on 3-4 local projects. Visualst is the first locally-based collective focused on creating products at the intersection between data, social development, design, and art. The intern/opportunist will work as a part of a small team of data scientists, global health technicians, and design practitioners to co-create products that are graphically compelling and true to the data that underlies them. One of our main projects is as a learning partner to JOBA Mozambique, helping to aggregate, distill, analyze, and present program and evaluation data of the largest co-funded PPP for vocational training in Southern Africa (jobamoz.org). We also assume a similar role for a pilot program on improving family planning nationally. Second, the intern will also gain experience in user interface (UI) and information design by helping to develop a revamped site and communication system with UX, a social technology firm. Finally, the intern will help manage the SDG data inputs and "framing" of information for art collectives (artists paired with social organizations) to create artwork for the forthcoming Art is Data Exhibits/Events in June & October 2019.
PI Mentor: Steve Harvey
During this past summer, I was given the incredible opportunity to spend 8 weeks in Maputo, Mozambique working with the creative, data-enthused women of Visualst, a public interest data design firm.
I primarily focused my time on two projects: ‘Vale a Pena’ and the ‘Art is Data’ Workshop Series. Vale a Pena is a thirty-month, DFID funded adolescent family planning project implemented primarily in Nampula Province, Gaza Province, and Maputo City. Elements of Human Centered Design (HCD) and adaptive learning incorporate girls’ dreams and needs as the basis of the design and implementation process. With evidence-based global practices as a key resource, the Project develops catalytic models, delivers impact in health, and generates and shares evidence. This allows for co-creation with influencers and active involvement of adolescents in decision-making to tackle pressing contraception needs in Mozambique.
The Art is Data Workshop Series is Visualst’s passion project, blending the worlds of data and art. Each month, we choose a specific artistic approach to representing and visualizing a chosen data set. During my time in Maputo, we conducted workshops around migration and climate change. The data visualizations and additional information/details on the migration workshop can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bending-breaking-shaping-our-response-cyclone-idai-jess-gergen/.
My role in both projects consisted primarily of performing data analytics and generating data visualizations. I was also able to attend various field site visits consisting of approximately five days. During these trips, I collected qualitative data through observations and interviews with various project stakeholders. After the visits, we conducted a variety of assessments and generated reports that will be used by local and international stakeholders, including the program’s donor, DFID.
Visualst has the authentic ‘start-up vibe’ that is equal parts flexibility and grind. We spent most of our days together, working Monday through Friday to produce the best content for our clients. On weekends, I spent a lot of my time with the strong ex-pat community in Maputo. We enjoyed trying new restaurants, exploring our city, and taking weekend trips. I was able to visit the beautiful beaches of Ponta Malongane and explore the city-sites of Johannesburg. My favorite weekend adventure, though, was our team bonding trip to Kruger National Park. We rented a house in the park and went on two safaris, catching sight of a pack of lions, elephants, monkeys, giraffes, and many other animals. A group of zebras even approached our house and we were able to hand-feed them apples!
My favorite part of working for Visualst was the comradery amongst the team. During my time in Mozambique, there were only two full-time employees, two part-time employees, and me. We were a fully female team, and it inspired me to work with such passionate, hard-working, devoted women every day. We committed ourselves to transparency and feedback for growth, helping me to develop soft skills I will take with me throughout my career.
My time in Mozambique furthered my fascination with monitoring and evaluation as well as international adolescent family planning programs. Before GHEFP, I had not considered working and/or living in the Southern Africa region, but after this summer, I will always consider Maputo a small part of what I call “home.”