We have just completed our first week at the Corporate Services Corps assignment and let me say it has been quite an experience. On Monday we met our client, Vinod Hari from Isha Vidhya and on Tuesday we visited the school where we met with the principle, vice-principle, administrative staff and teachers to learn more about their use of technology for training and teaching. Also, and more importantly, we met with the school children who are the inspiration to our assignment. The children received us with songs, acts and beautiful smiles.
The work environment in India is very different than that experienced in the more developed countries. The school for example has several power outages a day that last from 3 to 5 minutes, and their Internet connectivity is intermittent and slow. While the people are great, they have difficult time gathering and providing information when requested so it is imperative to stay on top of everything. The most challenging part though is on setting expectations. Culturally saying ‘no’ or setting the right expectations is uncommon. In fact, the standard answer to everything is "it will be ready in 5 minutes' or "it is just 1 kilometer away."
In addition to our work experience, we have also had our fair share of cultural immersion, eating not only the local food with their spices but also sitting on the floor and using our hand. In addition, we were given the chance to visit the Isha Ashram, one of the main sources of income for the Isha schools. The Isha Ashram is where people come for meditation and yoga retreats and we have been asked to be a part of that this week. On Sunday, we also visited an animal reservoir where we saw many wild elephants, buffaloes, monkeys, alligators, bears and deer. It is too unfortunate that we did not spot any big cats such as tigers, panthers or leopards.
I will summarize this week as an awesome one from a learning experience and cultural enrichment. This new week is starting at full steam, with additional work conducted at the school and also time to celebrate Pooja. Stay tuned for later details on our progress and experiences from this week.