Namaskāra! Join Cornell students from the ILR School and the Global Health Program taking part in a global service learning (GSL) program at the NGO Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) in Mysore, Karnataka State, India. The students take courses in culture, labor, gender and public health and also engage in service projects related to their studies. This opportunity is managed by International Programs in the ILR School.
For past years, see archives.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Kyonne R. ILR'18, Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning: Heightening Our Capacity for Global Service
My name is Kyonne R. ('18) and this past
summer I had the distinct privilege of participating in the ILR in India
program. After completing some introductory courses on gender, culture,
language, and labor in this new context, I was able to join one of India’s premier
non-profit organizations, which has set out to address the needs of the nation’s
most vulnerable populations. This partnership was an opportunity for change
makers from across the globe to coalesce for one singular purpose, which was to
heighten our joint capacities for public service.
Kyonne and Dr. Ramkumar, his mentor and supervisor at VTCL
This year, the Viveka Tribal Centre for
Learning launched a new, cutting-edge dual immersion program to increase rates
of English proficiency amongst tribal populations. I had the honor and
privilege of assisting in the management and development of this program – an
endeavor which I would say was rather successful. Relying on my previous
experiences documenting effective practices in K-12 schools across the U.S., I
joined a team of educators in their efforts to develop innovative communication
strategies for student-student and teacher-student interactions. After a period
of both active and passive classroom observations, I hosted training sessions
to explore strategies for taking this newly established English-instruction
program to the next level. Throughout this experience, I felt as though my
skill sets were welcomed. I felt like part of a team. And beyond our efforts to
meet this primary goal, I was also able to engage teachers
and administrators in discussions that I believe will continue to spur
organizational success for this esteemed institution.
Playing games with the youngest VTCL students.
Although my primary focus was on communication
strategies, the overarching goal for this partnership was to build the capacity
of teachers and administrators as they continue to meet the needs of
India's tribal student populations. With this broader goal in mind, I
advocated for the use of employee self-assessments as an opportunity
for teachers and administrators to regularly evaluate their own professional
development. I also discussed the potential benefits and challenges
associated with collaborative teaching environments – hopefully so that
administrators could make more informed decisions on how to utilize teams as
part of their approach. Lastly, I shared some effective practices for
increasing extrinsic motivation for students with disabilities – students who
have the potential to be left behind if they aren’t engaged in ways that are
palatable for them. Looking back, I think that my professors from the ILR
School's OB and HR departments would have been proud of my contributions!
I was surprised by how open the teachers
and administrators were to my suggestions, but what I took away from
this experience was the importance of honest self-assessment in all realms of
public service. Although I had expected some pushback, my colleagues at the
Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning welcomed my analysis for its potential to
help them in their quests to serve a marginalized community. They were less
interested in praises and more focused on developing their own human capital -
an approach which I will adopt and carry with me for the rest of my life.
Having successfully completed this program, I
am still in awe of the school's teachers and administrators, who continue
to make strides in the provision of high-quality educational opportunities
for a diversifying rural student population. This experience has deepened my
commitment to making a difference for urban student populations back home, as I
use these and other experiences to prepare for a career in education
consulting and nonprofit management.