Samstag, 31. August 2013

SHOPPING again and again & again....followed by reception @ Essar Oil Club

It's so hard...I just cannot resist on buying some nice clothes or jewellery. Yesterday night we went directly to a jewellery to buy anklets. Indian women are wearing these on both feed all the time. Some of them have little vibrating bells on it, so you could hear them at each step. Really nice... I shared one with Claudia and each of us has now one to wear in combination with our Kurtas and Saris.

This morning we went again to the market and I went for another 3 scarfs...these clothes here are so beautiful - I guess I will never ever meet my 15kg package weight anymore. We also bought some Bindi, the dots you can glue on the forehead.
Mamtha (IBM colleague from Bangalore, responsible for Business development) came back for today's reception at the Essar Oil Club. So in the afternoon she helped Paula and me to wrap our Saris before going to the Oil Club.

Not so easy...

...but with the expert guidance... worked out pretty well!

At the reception the Essar foundation honored their volunteers who attended the program in the last year. Everybody of our team had also to do a short speech about where we are from and what experiences we made.

We have been specially honored

Video recording about our project
The whole event was followed by a great indian buffet - delicious!

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Freitag, 30. August 2013

Essar Health Center & meet parents

That the Essar foundation is doing great things for the governmental education throughout the villages around their plant, is already known. Today this got another new dimension: their Health Care Center. 
The Essar Health Care Center
 Since the availability of medical advises in the villages is very limited, Essar runs a Health Care Center where all people get free medical care. There are doctors and nurses available as well as all kinds of medications. For emergencies there is also an ambulance vehicle which could bring the people to the next hospital.
Besides our visit to their facilities, we met some parents there and had the chance to interview them regarding (English) education.

 The traditional understanding of finding the right partner, getting married and starting a family is still predominant. While learning a profession has less priority. So this is another important topic we need to keep in mind when writing our recommendations.

The day ended with a social dinner
non-koriander dish - love it!!!!

and the legendary rikshaw ride.
I for sure will miss it...

...and the others probably too :-)
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Donnerstag, 29. August 2013

Happy Birthday: Anton!

Today was basically a very intense working day at the hotel. We did a lot of research and tried to specify the program and its initiatives we recommend for the two pilot schools we selected. The selection is mainly based on the teacher's level of English, the general (teacher, children, principal) motivation to improve their English and the existing infrastructure.
At the first step, there will be just two pilot schools for one year - but the expansion won't get lost on track.

Today is also Anton's 31st Birthday. The best reason to surprise him with a nice party at the common room. The only wish he had for us was: Meat for dinner!!! :-)
So we organized the delivery of meat dishes from a restaurant, girish organized an indian decoration of the room - and party got started :-)

Slice the birthday cake
PARTY!!!! :-)

Happy Birthday Anton!
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Mittwoch, 28. August 2013

light bulb moment: sanskrit

Today was a very focused working day in our project office at Essar's.

One important fact I didn't know so far is that English is really the fourth language indian school children learn. Of course - a lot of people said so before, but I always thought, "sanskrit" is more focused on notation teaching - but that's not true! Sanskrit is the primary liturgical language of hindi and all other regional indian languages. Like Latin for all indo-germanic languages.
So that means, these children are learning 4 languages simultaneously from the 5th to the 8th grade and higher. Wow...
A fact, which makes it even more important to consider any options about activity-based learning and alternative teaching methods, and to support the language teachers to improve their on language skills.

Today also a new "welcome graphic" at the Essar entrance hall was made - this time with colored sand instead of rice. Always impressing...:-)

double precision required :-)
each sand grain is in place

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Dienstag, 27. August 2013

Essar refinery visit and meeting with the district's education officer

After a constructive discussion about our ideas, which objectives they face and how we further should work on them, we were able to visit Essar's oil refinery. We have been to the laboratories, their control center and drove through the storage area where their final products are stored. In accordance to all security guidelines, everybody had to wear a helmet and safety shoes.

...better be safe... :-)

IBMers wearing security helmets

 After this impressing journey we had a meeting with the district's education officer. He is responsible for more than 1700 schools throughout the Jamnagar area. This meeting gave us an overview about what is centrally given by the government and what can be done by the district itself, respectively the extent of flexibility which is given. 
He assured that he reflects our findings and recommendations to his next hierarchical level. 

Meeting with the district's education officer
Tomorrow is a day where first meetings with the parents are supposed to take place.

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Montag, 26. August 2013

3rd week started with a hotel working day

Since it takes us every day 2 hours of travel to go to Essar's and back, we decided to spend another day in the hotel to work very focused on our data analysis and first ideas for the solution.

Concentrated work session

So what we basically did so far is:
we tried to figure out which assessment dimensions are relevant for the children's level of English. Apart from the teacher's level of english there are some infrastructural reasons,  general "vibe" of the school and how supportive the community/the village is. Also the role of the principal and the parents is important. A bit
challenging is the bias we got, when interviewees told us they they have a 100%-solution on all dimensions.
But of course, we will handle that. We already brainstormed some good ideas like internships, university partnerships, new methods in teaching and ways of visual informal exposure in the classrooms.

Tomorrow will be a special day, cause our colleagues from the Essar foundation team organized us a guided tour through the oil refinery. I'm really looking forward...

Sonntag, 25. August 2013

Relaxing Sunday

Today was a relaxing day...after all the school visits and the travelling - a pleasure. So I took the time to go to the tailor again to pick up my Sari.
MY Sari :-)
So I'm really looking to wear it on August 31st, when a reception at Essar's will take place.

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Samstag, 24. August 2013

Dwarakadheesh Temple

Temple for Shiva
 Today we went in a small group of four colleagues to Dwarka, the city where the famous dwarakadheesh temple is located. Unfortunately it is not possible to take cameras inside - so therefore just some impressions from the outside:

Nina, myself, Paula, Gica
It's homepage says: "...Dwarkadish is one of the most holy pilgrimage sites called the Chardham of Hindu faith and is dedicated to Lord Krishna's life".
We had very good guide there who kindly introduced us to the hindu way of worshipping. A special part for that is the exchange of the flag at the highest point of the temple five times per day. There are only 5 families who are allowed to change the flag. Anybody who wants to sponsor a new flag can do so - but the next free slot for sponsoring is already in 2016 (!).
yellow/white flag when we left

Colourful striped flag when we arrived

In the afternoon we went to bay dwarka, a little island close to Dwarka city, to visit another temple. The way to get there was a little boat - which obviously got bigger and bigger :-) I haven't seen so many people on the same boat so far...

Luckily we got a seat...

...other people had to stand
camel shepherd 

 On our way we were able to see a lot of other interesting things, here are some impressions:
Women selling spices at the market
Naan bread supply for everybody

Rubber tire as roofing material
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Freitag, 23. August 2013

School visits concluded

Since next week are holidays in India and we are not able to visit any schools anymore before September, we had to get done with the visits as off today. Even though our schedule was quite tough, we made it ...Yeah!
Today we had some very different experiences: School principals who weren't interested or didn't even show up, and principals where we got a very warm welcome. Some children who were really shy - almost too shy to talk to us - and other children who were so motivated and enthusiastic!
This is a pattern, which actually adopts to all schools.
Now the data gathering phase is completed and we need to do a deep dive into different topics throughout our data analysis.
"Where is Germany?"

Dedication to each child
Last school visit so far

 Our way to the last school today was really adventures in terms of the street conditions. Beside of that a herd of buffalos let us stuck for a short stop-over. 

stuck because of buffalo jam
This evening, I had my second non-veg dinner in more than two weeks now. I'd say, I'm already 90% vegetarian.

Tomorrow we'll do a day-trip to Dwarka. The place where the oldest indian hindu temple in India is.

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Donnerstag, 22. August 2013

The ESSAR School

- Learning again -
  After a discussion in the morning about the ideas we have to improve the English education at government schools, we went for another two interviews. We always try to interact with the children. One way is to let them find on the globe, where we are from...
Searching for Brazil

The younger children were curious what's going on in the classroom

Since for many children we are the first western looking people they see in reality, all students are quite curious to meet us and to talk to us. 

"Everybody raise your hands"

It differs from school to school how many students wear school uniforms (actually it's mandatory). And some of the girls wearing their uniforms are sooo nice :-)

Aren't they cute?
 In the afternoon we went to the Essar School. A private school for children of Essar' employees but also for other privileged children in town. This school was so amazing - incredible. All students spoke a perfect English, all kinds of activity based learning are in place and the children are so interested and curious.
Music performance @ Essar school

Group work with 7th grade

We also had the chance to join two of the English classes for a short introduction - it was great!

Afterwards we went again to the clothes market in the city - and I couldn't resist: I bought a Sari!

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Further Government School visits

Yesterday was another day mainly focused on further school visits. Due to lacking internet connectivity, I am hardly able to blog or share pictures.
Sorry for's a bit frustrating. So I'm gonna blog today for yesterday&today and share my experiences.

Yesterday we went you a school and we found the island of excellence. There was an english teacher and she was able to do the whole interview in English!
Wow - great! Cause it appeared when we did all our interviews, it's very hard to fond somebody who speaks english. There are many reasons for that, e.g.
lack of opportunities to practise, lack of available materials or IT infrastructure, and others.
But the teachers are motivated and supportive to change something, and the childrens level of enthusiasm huge. This is so inspiring for us and helps us
a lot to come up with suggestions and recommendations for improvement.


I already wrote a lot about the traffic here ... the different kinds of animals, as well as all types vehicles which a oart of the street's life.
But did I mention so far the noise? The traffic here is so noisy, all day and night long. and it seems like  - the indians love that noise... :-)
It says "Horn ok please"

Today we suppose to go through our first draft of ideas and recommendation and do further school visits in the afternoon.

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