The Journey is the Destination pt. 2

In my previous blog, I had the opportunity to begin portraying my involvement with a fascinating group of high school students through LEAP’s propeller program. The group of student has long graduated from this program, but the impact they have had on me is still as strong as ever. I hope that for some of them, the feeling is mutual.

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LEAP has a very strong focus on career-oriented skills development. LEAP’s flagship program, Education for Employment, is stronghold for LEAP, where graduating college students have the chance to develop many different skills that employment favors, such as business communication, aptitude testing, and many more. Hopefully, through the magnificent feats of experiential learning, the student emerged a better candidate for placement in the fields that he or she desires. LEAP’s propeller program attempts to accomplish a similar task for Grade 10, Grade 11 (which they call plus one), and Grade 12 (which they call plus two) students. Through a lot of fun and games, including the 3 “Global Immersion” sessions that the other interns and I run, these kids will have the opportunity to traverse similar topics that their college counterparts needs to do.

However, LEAP serves another purpose in these students’ lives that they do not do as much for the older students: LEAP offers personal guidance and mentorship for career choices. For these children, this guidance is very important. A lot of these children seemed to know what they want, which I find somewhat troubling. I felt I can relate to many of them as I too was fortunate enough to have a sense of direction. However, there were a few that did not encompass the same clear perception. This is where it becomes frightening. In their plus one year, they have already started to be divided into their interested fields. A commerce student would not take many science-oriented courses, and presumably vice versa. This level of division is already embedded into their education system, and as a result, many of them are not given the opportunity to explore the fields that they might have otherwise wanted. The fact that college is 3 years for many students means that they definitely don’t have the time or means to explore alternative fields in their college years. As a result, it’s so nice to see fellow trainers helping these students explore various fields at this time of their academic career.

So I promised that I would tell you guys about the other two Global Immersion sessions that the other interns and I had the opportunity to run. The first one was about habit formation, and I’m pretty sure that it’s not just the students that formed the good habits. By the end of these session, we had a good habit of making good content too 😛 Anyways, the second Global Immersion session was about technology and technological innovation. Remember this timeline?

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This was our intuitive way of having students pin point where they think major inventions took place. This was done in groups and we had representatives come up and use a buzzer that I had created. I only thought it would be appropriate to use technology that I learned in school and use it in an applicable way for the students to see. I don’t know if they were more enthusiastic about the session or the buzzer itself. Throughout the whole lesson, they would be coming up to me and probing at the buzzer, asking a plethora of questions.

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Whoever buzzes in first gets to guess! Then the other person also gets to guess. Whoever is closer to the actual year get the point. If you buzzed in and you are closer, you get two points!

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Can you guess what year that the mobile phone (the one in Eileen’s hand) is invented?

Next, we also showed them a short clip of the holographic display from Ironman (because who doesn’t like Ironman, amirite?). Actually, the point was to demonstrate the work of a group called SixthSense, who is starting to make such technology, and that soon, it won’t be a science fiction thing of the future. I’ve talked to a lot of people about technological development with a lot of people, during my stay here. As technology is definitely where my greatest interest lies, it is so good to hear that the technological development in this country is very rampant. Years back, nobody had cellphones. It seemed that just overnight, interest became a thing. Some graduate whom I’ve talked to described how his first two year of college have been sufficient without a laptop. However, in his third year, much of his assignment couldn’t have gone without. India was able to do in a decade or so what the Western world accomplished in a century. Is this a good thing? It sure opens up a lot of opportunities. In this heavily populated country, I’d say this is a great thing. I love technology, and I feel that they will too.

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They love Ironman, and they loved the clip even more.

Later into the session, the power went out, but did the children’s desires to learn? Nope! They all crowded around me while I gave an elaborate PowerPoint presentation on my laptop. It was a great experience for all of us.

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And that concludes the second Global Immersion session. The third session was perhaps the most globally oriented. We had the students guess a bunch of cultural festivals from different countries, many of which we don’t even know. And then, we had them pinpointed the country on the map, again many of which I don’t even know exist where.

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Everyone seemed to know a lot!

What was the point? To explore cultural differences on an international scale. We showed them now multinational corporation would change their appearance to appease different consumer populations. Our vivid example was with McDonald’s and how their menu changed to suit local demographics. This was really easily done by the students. I guess this is understandable. Through the other interns’ and my travel, we definitely witness the cultural differences, even short distances as 200 km away. This country is only the 7th largest by mass, but is one of the most heavily populated lands. This definitely gives the students some insight as to the idea behind cultural diversity. Being from Western Canada, we are lucky if we see another person within 200km, let alone an entirely different culture.

Anyways, after the presentation, we gave groups of students a task: to create a product and to market it to different places. The other interns and I got a hold of friends from all over the world (in China, Seattle, Vancouver, Israel, and Africa) to represent their area and communicate with our students through Skype calls. They had the opportunity to ask a list of prepared questions that would aid them with the task. However, very quickly, the conversations went off topic, and the students were all intrigued by the people in the screens that they saw. They asked many more questions about life and career choices. Did the children love it?

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Students attentively asking questions!

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Eileen guiding another discussion

Of course they did. Our friends loved them too. They were a very kind bunch, our friends and the students. Afterwards, all the students busily wrote away to give elaborate presentations on how they would do different things differently in different places.

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This is Harshul, one of the students that is working hard on creating a menu to his restaurant

So, what’s the take away? They learned a grander scope of the world that they live in, and we have learned how amazing these students can perform. The endless kindness that they have shown us was phenomenal. It’s been a long journey for me, and with only 9 days left. However, I can say that all I have been through with these students will definitely be something that will stay with me for a long time.

On a side note, Amritsar was holier than I expect. An amazing place.

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Leora really enjoying her meal inside the Golden Temple kitchen.

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Wait, what temple was this again? Oh right, the GOLDEN one ^_^

This wasn’t a tourist location. This is actually one of the central location of “pilgrimage” for people of the Sikhs. The city was founded in 1574 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das (you should read more about him, he’s really awesome). The whole structure was completed in 1604. Sure enough, Amritsar refers to the pool surrounding the temple (it translate to Pool of the Nectar of Immortality). The city is named after the pool. There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, the official name of the Golden Temple: it means the Temple of the Gods (I totally didn’t have to Google this). The four doors symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions. Isn’t that awesome? This place was awesome. These people are awesome.

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This warrior inside the temple complex is really awesome too. Just check out how awesome he is dressed.

I miss the city already. We had a chance to go to the Wagah border between India and Pakistan to see their daily flag lowering ceremony. It was a grand sight to see the Indian border guards with so much energy and enthusiasm.

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The uniform, amazing.

Apparently, there around 7000 km of border that India needs to guard, mainly again Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh. That’s crazy hearing this as a Canadian from Vancouver, a city that is around 40 km away from the longest unguarded border in the world (9000 km of it). But now, I am back in the comfortable Yamuna Nagar. One more week long stretch of fun fun fun! Be sure to tune in and I shall share more of my explorations of this country’s openly amazing secrets 😛

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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.