Thursday, July 23, 2015

Alex '17 and Katherine '16 Global Health - GRAAM

Hello from the GRAAM office!

The Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM) is a public policy research institute within the SVYM complex. GRAAM’s “commitment to building collaborative learning communities in the pursuit of human development” is driven by empirical evidence and experience in the field. The greatest focus of GRAAM is advocacy through the grassroots perspective for sustainable and real progress.

For our projects, we have been given the enriching experience of interning at the GRAAM office. For the next five weeks, Katherine will be working at the State Training Centre department of GRAAM. STRC is supported by the National Aids Control organization. The role of STRC is to strengthen the capacity of targeted intervention project staff, including peer educators, outreach workers, program managers and counselors, and to undertake operational research.

Katherine will be developing supplementary training manuals for the project staff, and accumulating additional research material to assist with the center’s ongoing research projects. Alexandra, on the other hand, will be focusing on community participation and engagement in health. This intervention strategy motivates the community and its representatives to directly implement, monitor, and evaluate public health services that address self-defined needs. This bottom-up approach empowers the community and indirectly provides an accountability framework ensuring government responsibility. Alexandra will be conducting research that will culminate in a case-study analysis and literature review paper that will assist GRAAM in future health intervention endeavors.

We are very excited to see what our projects have in store for us. We hope that these next few weeks will lead to development, professionally, academically and personally. SVYM has given us incredible opportunities and we are so grateful for this experience. 

All the best,
Alexandra and Katherine
Global Health-GRAAM

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning, Katie L. ILR'17

            While it only takes one day to fall in love with the kids and staff in Hosahalli, I have been lucky enough to spend two full weeks here. Since I started working, I have been observing the ins and outs of this school Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning. I have interviewed teachers, eaten alongside the students, toured their dormitories, taken part in their after school activities and sat in on a variety of classes covering multiple subjects, such as Kannada or Science, ranging from 1st to 10th standard (or grade). By the very nature of my project, I get to be a student, a teacher, an administrator, and an outsider. I am observing the school’s routine through these different roles and perspectives. More specifically, my project is a documentation of VTCL through the lens of three separate case studies.
            The first case study looks at the building structure of the school and how it encompasses VTCL’s philosophy. What’s particular about this school is the structure of an open classroom. This classroom has no windows or doors but rather large square openings to alleviate the feeling of constraint that comes from more formal classrooms. The second case study is on the schedule and overall daily routine of the school. I look at the attitude taken by teachers and students towards their class schedule and compare it to its implementation. The third and last case study takes a closer look at the children. Because VTCL prioritizes education for tribal students, this case study assesses the kind of role their specific tribe and background plays into their interactions with each other, if at all.
            My work aside, the kids and staff have made me feel so welcomed. Whether it’s at tea with the teachers or walking to lunch with the kids, everyone is so eager to talk to you. Their friendliness is infectious and you can’t help but feel a warm presence around the school. I have molded into such a comfortable routine that the line between work and play has blurred. I look forward to going to school, playing with the kids and talking to the teachers. As my time here is starting to wind down, it’s getting more and more difficult to ignore that I will have to eventually say goodbye. But while I may only get one month here, Hosahalli will always continue to be my manne, my home.
Open classrooms for 5th – 8th standard students

Whole school gathered for the daily morning prayer before starting classes as a student reads the day’s newspaper in English. Students in “free dress” because it’s a Wednesday.

Rachel and I with a few 10th standard students in front of their classroom

9th standard students taking English outside for the day’s lesson

Aleks walking back from the girls’ dormitory with a few of the girls

A painting done by one of the students Kala, 9th standard. Picture taken by Ravi, 6th standard.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Report from the Hosahalli Resource Centre, Aleksandra ILR'17

The past two weeks at Hosahalli Resource Centre have been enlightening to say the least. The Centre is made up of two schools: Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning (VTCL), which is the primary and high school for tribal children between the ages of five and fifteen, and the Vivekananda Teacher Training Resource Centre (VTTRC), which is a two year college program for future elementary school teachers. 
 So far I have been gathering pictures and information about both schools to update the VTTRC website and create a website for VTCL. During our free time, we interact with the teachers and students and try to push past the limits of our language barriers. The teachers are eager to learn about and compare the American educational system to their own, while the students are curious about our everyday lives, as well as taking as many pictures on our cameras as possible. We have already learned a lot from each other, even through simple exchanges of Kannada or English phrases.
As friendly and welcoming the environment is it has its challenges as well. It is little hard for me to work on a website with no web design background or connectivity to the Internet. I have to force myself to think outside the box, and use the information and resources I have wisely. This is much more easily said than done. Yet with such friendly and appreciative mentors who stress the importance of enjoying our work, it is hard not to do the best job possible. I have already learned much more during my stay in India than I have contributed. This is motivating me to provide the best services I can, regardless of my web development skills, in return for such a welcoming and informative atmosphere. 
At the Backwaters of the Kabini River Reservoir near the Hosahalli Resource Centre

With some of the VTCL students