It was an average day monotonously studying at home when my phone buzzed. It was a message from a 40K Globe teammate to our group chat with an update: “our Pod is killing it!”. An uncontrolled sensation of pride shot through me – something we had helped create months ago and a world away, was alive and well. The colourful, love-filled PLUS Pod was not only surviving but it was thriving. Every day for these five months the Pod had been attended by fifty energetic kids encouraged through modules and their caring local facilitator to advance in language. It may sound cliché, but it is a good feeling to have the confirmation that a it was successful and the Pod is doing its part in changing outcomes.
As with all projects and jobs, your thoughts and position change depending on the challenges you face, the time you have had to reflect, the opinions you hear from others, and the gage of success from the community. 40K Globe was no different: there were days, both during and after the project, where I questioned whether what we did was really making a change. Having already run through what the facts about what PLUS Project is and life as a Glober, I thought this would be a good opportunity to offer a more reflective piece on the experience instead. It is a chance to discuss what it feels like after some time to think, and look upon what we did in rural Bangalore with perspective.
The mark of a good project, in my opinion, is how well you achieve your goals without straying from your values. In many cases, especially with 40K PLUS, these goals and values can be intrinsically intertwined. The 40K PLUS values underpinned everything we did together as a team in Rural Bangalore and defined the experience and its worth. The 40K PLUS values are: making a difference, stepping up, striving for a better way, and being good to people. Using these values as a marker of success, I wanted to explore with you guys how I felt the project lived up to each of these aspects.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
This is one of the parts that matters most: did we actually do good? And not only did we do good, but did we make sure we didn’t do any harm? In short, from my personal experiences, I think we did make a positive impact. The project achieved its goal of bringing affordable after-school education, it employed local facilitators, got the kids excited to learn, and most of the Pods stand the test of time in the communities. Hearing back positive feedback about our Pod validated that the project was working and was genuinely helping out. Time will continue to tell the long-term benefits of this after school program, not only in the community we worked with, but in the other communities, too.
The skills we learned as Globers during the social enterprise internship are ones we will all carry with us into the future. We were able to learn about identifying fixable problems and working creatively to find solutions. I think you learn best hands-on and immersing yourself into challenges rather than learning from lectures and books, and this was the perfect opportunity to do just that. I’m not a business student so this whole experience taught me a lot about models of entrepreneurship and social enterprise. These adaptable lessons will help me, and all the other Globers, move forward in working with social enterprise in the future or use these new insights in other fields. Not only do I believe we made a positive change during the program, but I think it has equipped us to keep making change in other fields in our futures.
READ MORE: 40K Globe: What It’s Like Being A Glober
There were ample opportunities over the month to ‘step up’, in both big and small ways. Every day on the PLUS Pod journey (I don’t usually like referring to experiences as journeys, but this really felt like one) we had to step up in the ‘little’ ways. You show commitment to your team and community by waking up, showing up, and giving 100% of yourself to the project. Each new day in India presents exciting new challenges, be it in communication, culture, or chaos, and if you don’t step up to the plate, you miss out big time. Each day involved team work so it was important to commit to the team and get the job done.
And there are the ‘big’, more obvious opportunities to step up. The PLUS Pod Project is big. No exaggeration. In under four weeks your team has to create a functional educational space in a community and find the excited learners to fill it. You have to work hard to not only get the bricks and mortar tasks done to a high standard, but also step up as a considerate team member within the community and with your fellow Globers. There are large tasks that have to be successful or the Pod won’t be: administration, organising meetings, finding facilitators, getting a safe space, and more. In the first few weeks you learn a lot from your Team Leader and the community about how business and entrepreneurship runs in India, and in the final week each team member gets the opportunity to ‘Team Lead’ for the day. This puts all the lessons you have learned about teamwork, leadership, and ‘stepping up’ to the test.
STRIVING FOR A BETTER WAY
40K PLUS is working to find an innovative solution to the age-old problem of educational inequality in our world’s poorest communities. Whilst being a Glober it was impossible not to find yourself thinking “is this the solution? Are there any ways this could be an even better solution?”, and the reassuring thing was: 40K seemed to be thinking this, too.
The concept of using tablet technology to improve educational outcomes is an innovative solution in itself. The technology has had great success at 40K PLUS and with other organisations, so far. By using this standardised and interactive method, English skills can be measured and taught to a high standard in any location (and it’s fun, too). But 40K Globe knows that no projects can be perfect, and we, as the Globers doing the internship, were given opportunities to offer feedback, try new ideas, and help PLUS develop. Adapting, changing, and growing, are things 40K PLUS wants to do – and they readily acknowledge when things don’t work quite so well – which is refreshing and builds confidence in the project.
BEING GOOD TO PEOPLE
This. Is. The. Most. Important.
Nothing speaks louder about you than how you treat other people, and the experience with 40K Globe really enforced that. If you go on the program with honest intentions and a love of people, you will make more change and do more good than you imagined. The more you care, the more love you can pour into the community and the Pod, and this immeasurably contributes to the success. You are going there to be good to people, to aid in education, to help build futures; it is an intrinsic part of why we Globe.
And not only with being good to the project itself and the future students of 40K PLUS, but you have to be good to the people you’re Globing with, too. India can be a confronting place at times and often things don’t go quite to plan! Whether it’s a bout of Delhi belly or a touch of culture shock, you have to be there for your fellow Globers and they’ll be good to you, too. It really is an opportunity to make wonderful friendships with other students who also like doing good by each other and our world.
So, five months on, would I recommend the 40K Globe Program? Yes, I would. The program has had success in improving education in rural India and teaches Globers life lessons we will never forget. There will be days where it is hard and there will be times when you question what you are doing; but out of that comes growth and progress. If you are thinking about spending your university holidays in a meaningful way then I would highly recommend checking out the 40K Globe Program. Applications are open for the July program until 22nd April, or you can have a go for one of the December, January, or February teams!