One-on-one Sessions | providing a space for knowledge sharing through dialogue - Bubblegum Club

One-on-one Sessions | providing a space for knowledge sharing through dialogue

As an emerging creative, few things are as important as having the correct support needed to navigate creative spaces. As I have previously expressed, “Through the national lockdown, the closing of learning institutions and the cancellation of many events across the creative industry, a lack of communication between creatives has arisen and created a gap between experienced industry experts and aspiring creatives, allowing the creative community to appear weakened.” In response to this, British Council has once again shown their commitment to strengthening creative communities across the continent through their new web series One-on-one Sessions. 

Previous knowledge sharing programmes such as Creative Hustles have done the important job of fostering knowledge sharing. However, One-on-one Sessions goes a step further than previous programmes by taking a more personal approach to mentorship. Through this approach, the initiative does as its name suggests and connects a young creative with a mentor in a one-on-one session. In these sessions, the programme facilitates conversations and provides insight into a variety of creative practices.

The path that creatives follow is sometimes lonely especially since many of us adopt the attitude of doing everything for and by ourselves. Episode one of One-on-one Sessions introduces us to one such creative, aspiring actress Lucia Huni. In the mentorship session with Masasa Mbangeni, Lucia is brought to a place of self-realisation as she talks through her concerns with Masasa. By the end of their session, Lucia embarks on a journey to implement the advice she was given about navigating the industry. Through the programme’s unique personal approach which gives young creators such as Lucia, the space to curate their one-on-one session thus allowing them to focus on the questions and concerns they find specifically difficult to navigate.

Much like Lucia, who saw this opportunity as an eye-opener towards self-confidence, episode two mentee Gcobisa Yako describes it as an affirming opportunity that has allowed them to realise that their ideas shouldn’t be silenced, and that there is an audience out there that will connect with the stories they aim to tell. As an aspiring filmmaker, Gcobisa expressed that there are many moments where they question why they do the work they do. Through the reassurance provided by Gcobisa’s mentor, Abbesi Akhamie, Gcobisa was affirmed of their purpose. “Sometimes in this space, you can feel alone but when you step out and speak to other people, you’re like ‘oh yeah you too!’…” they share describing the programme as a reiteration of the need for a strong creative community. 

Through their involvement within the programme, Gcobisa was connected to a like-minded creative and, therefore, the common issue of finding mentorship that is well suited was remedied. “I just wanted to encourage you, your voice and the stories you want to tell are very much needed. You’re at the right moment to be seeking out mentorships” expresses Gcobisa’s mentor, well encapsulating the affirmations we — as young creatives — often need to hear. 

Not only did the series cultivate a space for the mentees to soak up valuable insight, but it also gave mentors a fresh outlook on certain industry specifics proposed by the young creatives. In the third episode of the series architect Issa Diabate mentors Lesego Bantsheng, with a focus on urban planning and resolving issues impacting the continent around climate change and inequality. Towards the end of their session Issa shares, “What makes [the session] rich is the fact that I can benefit from your experience as much as you can benefit from mine.” 

This sentiment is echoed in Lesego’s outlook following the session as she states, “It would be better if designers took up this mentality that whatever we do, we do for the betterment of the entire field, instead of [as] an individualistic thing”. Through Issa sharing his insight with Lesego, ideas about new ways of implementing hybrid practices that are beneficial to establishing one’s creative practise and aiding communities on the continent were engaged with. The episode also allowed Lesego to come to personal realisations about being an architect; realisations which may not have been made if the pair didn’t get an opportunity to sit down and have this dialogue. 

Across the four One on one Sessions episodes, the concerns raised by aspiring creatives were met with reassurance and aid from the industry experts. Such is the case with aspiring designer Kgomotso Kiggy who connected with the Creative Director of IAMISIGOBubu Ogisi. As Bubu spoke through their experience of growing a design label — Kiggy’s methods of working were reassured. 

“It was exciting to talk to somebody that has actually structured and done their work in the kind of the way that I’m moving to do mine” Kiggy shares. Continuing Kiggy states, “Just to have a soundboard in someone like her is going to be a crazy experience, and having someone to connect to when I go to Lagos is going to be amazing.” This again giving insight to the mentorship programme’s capability to foster and strengthen creative networks across the continent.

Through engaging with each episode across the series, it becomes evident how profound and positive an impact the One-on-one Sessions mentorship programme has had on both mentors and mentees alike. This impact is further disseminated as each episode is easily available to watch online allowing other creatives to share in the knowledge imparted through the programme. 

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