Ripple (part 2) — Design Thinking Workshops

A social program that helps groups of high school and college students tackle social issues in their communities.

For introduction about Ripple, go here.

For the 14 shortlisted groups, I organized two full-day workshops in HCMC for those based here and two 1:1 Skype sessions for the rest.

Goals of workshops:

  • To create a collaborative environment for the groups to help and learn from each other.
  • To help them reframe their approach to social issues and solidify their execution plan.
  • To provide them opportunities to practice design thinking, presentation skills, research on precedent case studies and writing about what they have learned.


  • Self-introduction: My name is […]. I’m from […] group. My biggest fear is […] and this is how I try to overcome it. Participants could also suggest how to handle each other's fear.
  • Group Games: designed to encourage them to be more proactive, get comfortable and take turn to help each other.
(This is a game I learned from a Public Speaking workshop at SVA) We first form a circle. The first person comes to the center, introduces themselves then makes a pose and stays still until someone else steps up, says hi, introduces themselves and makes another pose responding to the other’s. Then the first person will look at the other in the eyes and say, Thank you, then leave the circle. The game goes on until everyone has made a pose.

Each group had 7 minutes to present their project following the suggested outline:

  • Who we are (Vision / Mission)
  • Problem statement
  • Underlying causes
  • Why it matters
  • Target audience
  • Solution ideas
  • Reason to believe
  • Why us
  • Core activities
  • SWOT
  • Budget report (optional)
  • Call to action

All groups got to give feedback after each presentation.

Phong Group presenting how they want to educate elementary kids about electricity and its applications.

On the second workshop day, each group gave a presentation on their research on five precedent case studies and how they applied what they learned so far on developing their project. I also gave a talk on how to integrate story-telling into presentations.

I applied what I learned from Gary Chou and Christina Xu’s class to design an exercise that allowed the groups to understand in depth each other's challenges then provide practical suggestions (you should talk to this person, you should consider…, I can help you/your group with…, your next step should be…, etc).

I found that most of the challenges were very similar, as if all groups were going through the same struggles, which made their suggestions even more insightful.

Each group wrote down 3 most significant challenges that they were facing, each on one sheet of paper. They taped the sheets on the wall around the room. Then each participant will stand in front of one challenge and they had 1 min 30 sec to write down any suggestion they could come up with on sticky notes, before moving on to the next one. The exercise finished when everyone did one full round around the room.
The moment was extra special to me, to see everyone coming together and helping each other.

The groups had 20 minutes to go over all the sticky notes and simplified them into main themes, as well as discuss how to iterate their project based on the feedback from their presentation and design thinking exercise.

We gave each group a 20-minute one-on-one session to bounce ideas with them and assign the next assignment (research on 5 case studies and share what they could apply from their findings).

Also something I learned from Gary and Christina's class.

“You never know what you’ve learned until you’re forced to articulate it in writing” — Gary Chou.

The groups were tasked to write about what they learned from the workshops and their reflections. It's also to evaluate if the workshops have achieved the goals and how it could be improved.

We are thrilled to receive so many helpful feedback on how to overcome our challenges, as well as to share our thoughts and resources to other groups. That helped us save so much time and cost on developing our solutions.

— Translated from RIPPLE’S WORKSHOP 1 REVIEW by RIFAR team.

After the second week, improvement of all the candidate teams hit my awareness of this powerful [case study research] exercises. Just knock on the door, ample chances and indispensable networks burst out into your life.

–– What were precious lessons I have gained? by Ha Minh, leader of one of the winning teams last year. She helped me organize the workshops.

For sharing from other groups (in Vietnamese), check them out here.

Final thought

This hasn’t changed since I first started the Share A Cause Project (even more reinforced) — I’m really proud of those social activists and impressed by their work. A BIG shoutout to the 5 teams here in HCMC, and other 7 teams in Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Quang Tri, Hue and Kon Tum. Everyone took feedback so well, did a thorough research on the case studies and achieved a remarkable turnaround only in 7 days (between the two workshops).

Leaders of The Future team did a whole presentation via Skype with hand-drawn slides.

I have learned SO much and I'm very grateful for this inspiring and meaningful experience of being a part of Ripple 2018.

Together we can create a Ripple effect of inspiration and support to student social activities in Vietnam.

How you can be a part of this Ripple effect

  • The more funding we receive, the more groups of students we can help.
  • If you are enthusiastic about the project — please spread the word. Lending your voice to our cause is much appreciated.

Next: Ripple (part 3) — 2018 Winners 🎉

The six wonderful groups of social activists.

Product Designers by day, Zen practitioner all the time 🧘🏻‍♀️ One mindful moment at a time