The Journey is the Destination

India is tiring! There’s just so much to do, from eating to playing to work, work, work! If you asked me to rank those from most fun to the least, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’d like to imagine my experience over here on a spectrum of with fun is on the very right and tedious is on the very left. If you could imagine each of the images on this timeline being representative of my experiences, you’d have a very good idea of how I feel:

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Timeline that students got to stick on different technological innovations.

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It was a group competition to see which group can guess the closer year.

Pictures 1 and 2: Global Immersion workshops with the amazing students in technology (sneak peek)

Wait what? Have I been having that many bad experiences? Look at the timeline increments 😉

….. And I’ve been having so much fun that I keep forgetting my fundamental duty of blogging 😦  I’ll do the apologizing later! It’s time to have more fun ^_^.

Anyways, so much has happened and I indeed intend to indulge you all on everything. We traveled many parts of (North) India, and we get to see a different sense of tiredness and fun intertwined. Just look at how much tired fun we’ve been having?

Oh my! Look at how tired Leora is.

Oh my! Look at how tired Leora is.

Picture 3: This was from our long, long trek up a path and then a foothill and then more path foothills to the famous Pyramid Café. Now, we made the trek, we finally know why it’s called the pyramid.

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His name is Ross. He is my brother.

Picture 4: At least this guy doesn’t seem really tired.

It looks like I’ve been avoiding talking about the adorable people that I get to work with, play with, and share with. It’s been a week since LEAP’s propeller program ended. And boy do I miss the munchcans. This had been a 3 and a half week program, where trainer, the other interns and I got the wonderful opportunity to work with, play with, learn with, and most importantly laugh with the bright bunch.

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Apparently, I was named after the place that a mouse lives, otherwise known as a rathole. They thought it was appropriate to tell me after the henna dried.

Picture 5: The bright bunch that wrote “Bill” in Hindi in henna for me ^_^ 

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Who knew a trunk can fit Āṭha people (8 people) Sorry Hardik, Devrath and Brahmjot. The camera just wasn’t big enough

Picture 6: We made an site visit to a heavy industrial engineering factory

From the beginning, I knew that it would be a wonderful experience, and none of what we did ceases to amaze me. It was just so amazing. From beginning, we were met with a small bunch, and the team building immediately began. From the beginning, we learned that it was going to be a team experience, and it never ceased to be so. The number of friendships inherited was phenomenal.

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Picture 7: The group doing the first task

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Picture 8: Our boys and girls on a social project!

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Picture 9: Our boys and girls visualizing their strengths and weaknesses

On Day 1, we got to work in groups to cross swamps, using newspaper. This was one of our first tasks together, and it also proved to be the best one to completely break the melting ice in this hot country. We got to communicate, to use common language to build the bridge, and to ultimately win not as an individual group, but as a whole team of champions to embark on a journey of self-discovery (of strength and weaknesses), and self-augmentation of skills, confidence. It was a hard task, and as you can see the lovely Eileen and Abhishek being the last 2 people remaining.

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Picture 10: Eileen and another student having fun with our first task together

But what was the task exactly? Each group was given a newspaper each to 75% of the people. Now essential, following 2 guidelines, your group is supposed to cross a designed “swamp” as a group of intellectual, and as a team of collaborators.

The two guidelines are:

1) no part of anybody’s body part may touch anywhere in the swamp outside of the newspaper that you lay on the ground

2) all newspaper must be in contact with at least one group member at all times.

Failure to follow these rules would disqualify the group member and newspaper, respectively.

Boy, was it hard! But boy, was it fun! It sure got the competitive me out of Bill. And oh boy, were the trainers harsh on the poor kids. A centimeter ( 0.4 of an inch) off the newspaper and it’s Game Over for that participant.

But it was lasting fun. It taught great teamwork, and most important an innate sense of trust and belonging within the group.

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We are had the most fun

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*whisper* they didn’t have many newspapers left

Picture 11 and 12: ‘Twas a difficult journey

That was the first session. With so many other fun ones to come. This is just a demonstration of how interactively stimulating everything was: for the students and for us interns.

Throughout the whole process, the group of 14 had an opportunity to traverse many subjects, many areas that are not particularly taught in schools. There’s a strong emphasis on experiential learning, with the experience being a fabulous one. There were many skills that LEAP tried to expose the students to. After all LEAP is a Skills development academy. Most of the skills that were taught revolved around business skills such as: Conflict management, professional etiquette, public speaking, etc. There are also a strong emphasis on interpersonal skills, such as: team work, leadership, communication skills, relationship management, etc. Through fun exercises and games, the students slowly became aware of the essences of these skills. I would compare the fun to theatrical classes, but more fun, more theatrics and more skills developed.

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Picture 13: This is us working hard! We have a cozy room

There’s also one more very important aspect: Global Immersion. This is where we come in and allow the students to “experience” experiential learning with set of “global” lenses because we interns are “global.” It was a daunting task, but I’d say, we did a very good job. The kids love us. (It might just be the accents though, I hear people love accents)

Then what does this entail? We ran 3 of these sessions: one on habit formation, one on technology, and one on global exposure. I cannot begin to describe which one is more fun, the behind-the-scenes where the other interns and I bounced amazing ideas off of each other and seeing which ideas land most elegantly on the meeting room table (oh yea did I mention, we came, saw, and conquered their meeting room), or leading the workshops where we had each pairs of eyes glued on our elegant Kurtas and beautiful faces.

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Fantastic irony: We did the technological session in the dark without power. I loved it, they loved it.

Picture 14: The boys and girls really like technology. 

The first session was quite daunting. We didn’t have much experience planning extravagant lesson plans, but we had aspirations to do so. Apparently, the aspirations were enough. We broke the ice with a very great activity with string and stories that we called the Human Web. We had students share experiences in a circle, and while holding a piece of the string, throw the ball of yarn across the room to another. We repeated this until we made an intricate web of interconnectedness. It was great.

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Picture 15: Don’t you wish you were part of our Propeller web too?

Next, we fully engaged each and every single student with our variation of Jeopardy called Quizzo. Essentially, we found this to be a great interactive way for them to get exposed to current events (all the questions were insanely hard current event questions) and the students did really well. Sadly (especially for me), we didn’t have buzzers. So I was the buzzer… … literally. Whoever can slap me the fastest (which turned into whoever can slap me the hardest) gets to answer first. Boy did they have a field day with that.

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Picture 16: Ouch!

From this, we transitioned into giving the student advice on different outlets that they can use to keep up to date.

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Picture 17: We should all read newspapers

The next activity is one that is more hands on for them. Is it a good habit to keep track of how you spend your time? We thought it was a good idea, and so we put our minds and stomachs together and created something we call: Pie in a Day.

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Picture 18: Boys working hard. Leora is so cool!

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Picture 19: Girls working even harder.

It’s quite self-explanatory. In the shape of a pie, we display what our ideal day would be, and then what our actual days are like. Yikes! I encourage you to do this too. It’s quite fun!

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Pictures 20 and 21: Some of us were more stylish than other. Some of us were happier than others (with their uses of time)

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Picture 23: Hehe even the trainers do it!

The thing about these students is that I feel that there is an intrinsic motivation for them to come together and learn wholeheartedly. It was so great to be in the front row to see it happen. They were extremely well behaved and having myself coming from a background with lots of adventure summer camp experiences, having such a well-behaved bunch is definitely a fantastic experience. This is an interesting journey. For them this experiential learning, something so integrated into our school system is supposedly very sparse in their. They have experienced a lot, and they have journeyed through a lot. And while journeying, they are learning lots too. You can say the Journey was the Destination.

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Picture 24: They were amazing. They are amazing.

What I just described was just one our Global Immersion sessions. We put a lot into one session, didn’t we?! 🙂 You want to know how the next two went? Well stay tuned!

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About Bill He

Class of 2018, Computer Engineering. Intern at LEAP in Yamuna Nagar, Haryana in Summer 2015. Education is scalable. Considering that I am also an international student at Penn, I find it fitting to contribute back to the international community. I find great joy in transforming my learning into a form of knowledge for others. Especially passionate about engineering, I believe I may be able to tackle issues from different perspectives and make it fun for others while doing so.