Category Archives: Interns

When a Student Returns to a Teacher : Suhani’s Internship in NEEV – Part 1

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The bond between a teacher and a student is perhaps one of the most profound relationships that can exist. Such a relationship transcends time, space and the commerce of give and take. When a teacher is not a mere transmitter of information and knowledge, but one who is interested in helping a child see the vastness of life, he creates a bridge between two souls; a bridge on which the student can walk across the surging currents of samsara, to discover that which is true and eternal.

When I left NML Kerala Public School – Jamshedpur as it’s principal, Suhani was just in Std.5. Together we might have managed just a couple of personal conversations. But like every student of NML Kerala Public School, she used to hear me speak about life in the morning assemblies; and get a more personal glimpse of me when I used to take daily rounds in the classes. Yet this much was enough to forge in her a bond between us, a bond so strong that it would bring her back to me and NEEV after a gap of a decade; a decade with not a single interaction between us. The bond between a student and teacher does not rely on words; it is a communion in which one feels and understands the other even without the need to speak.

The last that I remember about Suhani was a slim girl with bob cut hair and dark, shiny eyes. She still retains those dark, shiny eyes but now enhanced with a lovely smile.

All of nineteen years, she did not bat an eyelid taking classes for Std. 8,9 and 10 students who are just two  or three years younger to her. When she speaks, she does it with a devastating confidence. Many a times, while she would be taking calsses on Civics with Std.8 to 10, I would just park myself in a chair in the corner of the class and gaze at her dreamily, glowing with an inner satisfaction to see that the spark I had cultivated a decade ago is beginning to crackle into a fire.

A fire she is. For who else would give up a seat in Engineering College to pursue her passion in Law? Treading the footsteps of her teacher, she showed the rare courage to give up a socially esteemed career in engineering to follow her inner calling. Suhani is moved by the plight, injustice and dismpowerment suffered by women in India. Through her degree in she would like to stand up for the women and assist them to get justice through law which exists on paper but is woefully absent in practice. Like any Indian she had to battle through all the disparagement she received from all quarters for giving up a lucrative career and devote her life to a path filled with uncertainty and danger.

A ship anchored in the harbor is always safe. It does not face the danger of drowning in the storm. But this ship never crosses the shore to the other side. I am glad that Suhani has taken up the challenge to unanchor her ship from the harbor and face all the storms. The NEEV (NEEV is actually a hindi word which means ‘foundation’) has been laid for another adventure, for a story worth sharing 🙂

I am pasting below Suhani’s first journal of her experience with NEEV !

 Suhani’s First Journal

It’s always very interesting to work under the person who had taught you, the one from whom you have learnt the basic ethical values, who was once your teacher, who was once your a guide. Working under such person is always full of excitement, knowledge and curiosity. When I was told in my college that we have to do internships right from the first semester and that too in a NGO since we are not exposed to the constitution law and IPC & all, I had decided that very moment only that I will be interning in NEEV under Anurag Sir. It was about twelve and a half years ago, when I had first seen him and had a small conversation. Unfortunately, that conversation did not last long. I had only spent about three and half a years under his shadow and guidance. I had learnt very few things. I wanted to learn from him more. But, destiny wanted something else. Due to some unavoidable reasons, I lost the guidance and shadow of sir. I was broken up.

But someone has very correctly said that if you are searching any person with full dedication, love and affection, then this whole universe helps you in meeting that person. Same happened with me. The very first day I had joined Facebook, the first person had searched was “ANURAG JAIN” because I was very desperate to know about sir. All thanks to Mark Zuckerburg because had he not launched Facebook, I could have never ever got the chance of contacting sir. And as a result, I would not have got the golden opportunity of interning under him.

After giving my first semester examination, when I returned back to Jamshedpur, only one thought was there in my mind and that was joining NEEV. Along with my mother I visited NEEV on November 20th 2015 to meet sir. I was very much excited about the meeting. I was also very happy. My eagerness was gradually increasing. I was also quite nervous. Since, I had not visited the school before, I was told by sir to wait near the auto stand where he will be sending his staff member to receive me. I waited for about ten minutes.  And, those ten minutes were like ten hours for me. But still my wait was not yet over. As sir was taking a class, I had to wait for him in office. He came after 22 minutes. The moment I saw sir, I was frozen up. For a moment I could not believe myself that my dream of meeting him again has come true, that my wait is finally over. Honestly saying, I had really wished if the time could stop for a while. Sadly, it’s not possible. When the conversation started with sir, I was actually not understanding of what to tell and what not. I was nervous. I was stammering. Then sir took me to the senior most class of the school where I was introduced by him to students. I felt so overwhelmed and happy when sir said, “she is Suhani, my student from NML KPS.” I don’t know why but I was really very happy. There in the class, sir gave me the chance of expressing my views and opinions with the students. While I was interacting with the students, sir said that whatever I am telling, it’s all the values and the knowledge which I got from him. I am happy that I was successful in imbibing those words within me till now and I will try to maintain them. I spoke for an hour. And how the time passed, I was wondering. It was Friday.

My internship was starting from Monday. The first day I attended the SWADHAYA class. SWADHAYA class is a period where we have a dialog session with sir where we talk about the need of self enquiry and awareness. The first day we had dialog on “THE PURPOSE OF DUCATION”. While the dialog was going on, I realized that how much more I have to learn from sir. And this realization kept on increasing every day. There was a time when I was feeling jealous of those students due to the fact why am I not as lucky as them; what good deeds did the they had done in their last birth that they were living under the guidance if sir from such a long time. I had also taken some classes. The first class I had taken was in class II where I had taught them Mathematics. When the bell rang for lunch, I was wondering where and with whom should I have the lunch. Then, suddenly a teacher approached me saying that I was being called by sir for having lunch with the staff members. I was relaxed. I thought why I should not respect this person who understands the queries of everyone without the confession of the query by the person to him.

Right from the teachers to the students never made me feel that I was a newcomer. All were very helpful, good and friendly. The atmosphere if the school was very encouraging. When I came back to my home, and when my mother asked me that how was y first day, I said it was very good. And the days passed. On Thursday, we had a dialog on HURT. During the dialog when I was telling everyone about the distance of thoughts between me and my parents I was about to cry but somehow controlled   myself. This dialog was very touchy to me. During the dialog, all the incidents which had hurt me were coming to my mind. I was unable to concentrate. And, the whole day I was disturbed. Another thing which I have learnt is how a person does not open up himself in terms of expressing their views, annoyance or any feeling because that is afraid to accept the reality. They think about the consequences and the SELF IMAGE. It is just because we are not accepting the truth because that truth is not according to what we desired for.

On Friday, I got the chance if attending the CIL camp at NEEV SOAPS UNIT where I met Shikha ma’am after a long time. I was happy to know that the products made were all chemical free and the unit provides a platform to the local women to become independent.  There we had two dialogs. And I liked the first one more than the second one. In the first dialog, we talked about the intention and devotion of us towards our vision. I also went for a walk to the riverside with sir where I had discussed bout my dream with sir.

My experience has shown me that no one needs degrees to create a change. What one needs is their spirit, devotion, hard work. Overall, I am happy interning here.

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Diary of a NEEV Intern – Sebastian Starke

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Dear Friends,

Sebastian, a Bachelor of Business Administration student of Hochschule Pforzheim University, Germany did an internship with NEEV from 5th Aug. 2013 to 14th Sep. 2013. I am reproducing the first part of his diary which details his experiences working with NEEV.

The Internship program is intended to be a transformative experience for the interns. In keeping with the philosophy of NEEV, every intern is encouraged to look within. While a lot of work gets done at the outer manifest level, the intent at NEEV is evolution of consciousness. Yet, this is not done through workshops or any formal training sessions. It happens in the work itself, in the way one relates, in informal conversations; an embedded experience rather than a plastic overlay.  It is an integral experience of development of consciousness that honors the specific developmental level and the uniqueness of every intern. There are no predetermined expectations that have to be matched, rather the intern drives his/he own learning.

The diaries are a record of the developing thoughts and experiences of interns at NEEV. Sebastian is a passionate individual who tries to bring deep thought into every work that he does. And yet, despite his drive for professionalism there is a warm glow in him of a sensitive, caring and open heart. It was perhaps one of the greatest learnings for him to see how one can combine the qualities of heart and mind in creating an Integral Enterprise.

Sebastian is not a native speaker of English and thus there might be some discrepancies you may observe in his writings. I have done the bare minimum of editing and tried to preserve his voice so that the reader can get a flavor of his own experiences. So, I request the reader to overlook the syntax of words and as they say, get into the heart of the matter J

Sebastian Diaries – Part 1

Monday, 12th of August

After my arriving in Jamshedpur in the late Sunday evening it was hard to sleep. I was quite exited about what will be my next day be like and a thousand of thoughts regarding last week were in my mind. Talking with previous interns I knew that the work would be challenging but fostering. Finally I met Anurag Jain, who picked me up from the hostel. At NEEV´s soap unit I met Shikha Jain. In a first introduction I got to know about who they are and what their vision is. This talk helped me to find out what their passion was to start/ lead an social enterprise. To leave a safe job and taking a high loan for helping to empower women and education requires a high risk disposition.

We also talked about me, my domestic and academic background and my subject of study to find a job role that fits to me. The work focus ed on a product launch, documentation for certification of new products and generating sponsors for their pupils’ scholarships.

I´m a bit unsure about if I can meet their high expectations since I don´t want to disappoint them. Also it seems like a load of work to do for only 5 weeks.

Tuesday, 13th of August

First day of “real work” – I slowly realised the actual size of work! As Shikha helped me to schedule the work it seemed manageable at least.

We talked a lot about cultural differences in daily live. It was very nice to see the differences between our cultures and how things as facilities have just another value over here.

I enjoyed the food at the office – even if I´m definitely not born to eat without cutlery.

Wednesday, 14th of August

Today I started with the SOP and Certification for the new Products. As I was not that familiar to all the products I had to ask Shikha a lot, but she answered patiently everytime.

Beside work I really enjoyed talking with Shikha about the values of my generation. Especially in the more materialism western part of the world it´s not that easy to find someone to talk about “real values” in live.

In the evening I played “catch me” with the rural children – where do they take their energy from?!?

Thursday, 15th of August

This day was Independence day where India celebrates it´s independence from the British Empire. I arose early to get to the NEEV school. Since I wasn´t there yet I was unsure what to expect.

I found a well managed school with an awesome programme!

I really liked the involvement of the pupils and I was surprised that they made the whole programme by their own – respect! Dances, Speeches, Actings; really nice programme for this hot morning.

In noon Anand took me to “his” Jamshedpur. It was awesome to get to know and to stay with his friends and to make a guess about Indian´s daily live.

Friday, 16th of August

This morning I was at NEEV School to present my culture to the pupils. Since I was a little hoarse it was more strenuous to talk this day. Before my presentation I got the opportunity to attend a class to see the teaching style. There were 4 students from a nearby B-School which taught some physics. Nice to see the different ways of social activism over here in India! After that class I had some conversations with the teacher about their biographies and stuff. Especially Samuel´s story about his educational career and his handicapped daughter which “gives energy to everyone” touched me.

Further Anurag told me his story of NEEV as an “organisation without organisation”. After a short excursion into communism I got a rough idea about what the idea of NEEV is about. The rest of the day I spent with work at the soap unit to get the SOPs done. In some talks with Shikha I got more Insights of Indian culture.

Saturday, 17th of August

This day really run by fast. I had some long talks with Shikha about religion to get a clue of what is Hinduism about and my mindset/opinion toward this. As Christianity was always a bit confusing to me and seemed like church´s tool of power. The Hinduism includes more philosophical aspects of life and tries to encourage a more enlightened view on the individual´s opinion comparable with Emmanuel Kant´s doctrine. We also talked about Europe’s attitude towards eco-friendliness. Moreover I found lot of similarities of Indian and German Popsongs 😉 Tomorrow we´ll have lunch and will shoot some product-photos after this – see what will come.

Sunday, 18th of August

Sunday – no work! 😛 I was invited at Jain´s home for lunch and product shooting. As every meal I had some new things to taste and judge. Anurag introduced me into his studies. Nice to see that some of my views actually have some names – what I thought to be “opportunism” was kind of “scepticism”.  I think I still know to less about Buddhism to judge about this religion, but I really like the inclusion of philosophical aspects into religion. Thus people tend to live a more enlightened life as in Western states. Many lessons taught by great philosophers kind of mirrors the Buddhism doctrine. The visit of Hindu temple in Jamshedpur was more a touristic rather than a religious act. Since they see a a part of god in everything´s soul they worship a lot of gods – but doesn´t mean worshipping everything means worshipping nothing? This kind of “worship” is in my opinion rather a form of “respectful appreciation” towards everything. Nevertheless it´s was a nice day and lot to learn.

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         Sebastian interacting with NEEV School Kids                                                 

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                      Doing a presentation on the culture of Germany

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                      Showing the National Dress of Germany to children

Diary of Parth (2) : NEEV Intern

Dear Friends,

Many, if not few Engineers have a poetic and philosophic side to them. I had it too, when I was in college, and that side of me actually eclipsed my Engineering. I was often caught in class with a Philosophy book tucked in my Structural Design or Fluid Dynamics textbook J Shikha and I had a whole notebook filled with philosophical dialogues !

So it did not come as a surprise to me that Parth fancies himself to be a writer some day and is “prone” to bouts of philosophical contemplation. His second diary has glimpses of the same.

The photos show Parth interacting with the NEEV School Kids where he narrates to them his own poignant story of how he was a naughty and irresponsible kid till his eight grade but his ninth grade teacher recognized his talent and made it a point to go after Parth till he realized his true potential. His ninth grade teacher, Parth says, changed him for life. She showed him that he had the “stuff” to do it. And for the “nth time”, I heard the story of how a teacher changed the life of a student : not to mention, this is the kind of story one never tires from hearing. Kindling the light of knowledge in a child is a miracle. We hope that youth like Parth can take forward the miracle that changed their own lives.

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Project diaries- Day 2

And so, I am a day behind. Day 2 happened yesterday and today has been more profound experientially but then conversations or dialogues as Sir calls them are now appealing more to me than they ever did. They have trickled down into my experiential realm with consummate ease. Day 1 ended with me lying down on a cot and having no clue where I was sleeping until I got up 7 hours later. I don’t want to drive home to the reader the point that this experience is surreal in all its respects. You should disbelieve me with all your might. “You should seek and see for yourself”.

This is an exercise for me too- rewinding a day back and revisiting the details. I think I can be a little bit more evaluative right now- be a bit more careful against the viles of experiences that move me. A coolness and detachment of this sort, I now realise, often helps. So, writing a day later, in retrospect is not bad at all. Au contraire, the tint on your eye loses sheen and there is clarity. Profound.

Jasomati, the cook and the overall helper of the soaps unit I am researching on and staying at, brought me breakfast. She smiled and tells me, “Bhaiya! poori banayi hai”. I smiled back, and found myself saying- ” Mujhe pasand hai”. 🙂

The breakfast done with, I sit down with her for my survey form. Sir came to pick me up for  lunch at his home.

I met Harshi, Sir and Mam’s beautiful daughter, I had heard about her. She came wearing skates and I asked her where she had learned it from. She responded- the internet. I was dumbfounded. I immediately had pictured a high flying/ corporate class, niche schooling for her already. Its funny how our imagination system works. It takes us a nano second to combine a multitude of our experiences with a multitude of people and then assimilate all that information to process a judgement. It’s funny to see it going flat sometimes. Lunch done with, I sat with Sir’s dad and got all the financial data I was so skeptical about before I had come.

It had started raining. I and Sir’s dad sat in the little garden facing balcony- sipping tea. Me and mam sent the survey forms off to consumers and we went up to the terrace in the drizzle. I should remember the beauty of it all- Standing on the terrace, you can see a little of this very planned and green township called Telco. A distant temple is visible too from here but the majesty of the tree dotted hills overwhelms your senses like anything. Who would have thought that an industrial town like Jamshedpur could indulge my senses that much?

We enter into Sir’s study and I have a panoramic glance of the varied and sizeable literature Sir has. I now have an idea of how my study would be. Conversation shifts from metaphysics to science to the nuances of the female pysche. I may end up learning a lot about how the female psyche works by the time I came back.

Harshi shows me the hulla- hoop, the Shakira-esque dance with a ring that she swirls from her hips, her knees and thighs, and her hands for what seems infinity of time .I tried too- the hulla hoop slid off me in a jiffy. We bid goodbyes and Sir dropped me. The village- drunk and brimming, un-‘enlightened’ roads due to the rain- silent as anything could ever be started looming overhead. And yes, I caught a look at the starry night too. 🙂

NEEV @ XLRI – 5th National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship

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NEEV Participated in the 5th National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship held at XLRI School of Business Management. The theme this year was quite apt for NEEV as it was, “Innovations in Livelihood Promotion and Skill Development.”

Seen in the pic is Shikha with two women from Hurlung village who have been provided livelihood by NEEV. They were manning the stall at XLRI.

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Seen in this pic is Prof. Madhukar Shukla, the man who envisioned this conference, also a rare combination of indefatigable energy and effortless humility. Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to him for making NEEV part of the family of XLRI Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives.

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Seen in this pic is NEEV Intern Kristen who simply loves conversations and got an opportunity to listen to some of the presentations by eminent speakers.

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Seen in this pic is Shikha who does not like conversations so much but seems to be enjoying the atmosphere Smile

Kristen’s Diary : NEEV Intern from Canada

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There is nothing in life that does not interest Kristen, from Plato to children to maths to glitters to outdoor camping. From my side she earns the fabulous distinction for being the most no-nonsense, no-hangups, no issues intern that we have ever seen in NEEV so far.

Currently doing her graduation in International Business, Mc. Gill University, Canada – Kristen says she chose social sector for her internship because she is fascinated by the idea of using business solutions for furthering development. Evidently, NEEV fit the bill.

But my introduction won’t be complete if I did not mention the most quintessential fact of Kristen – She is a ball of energy

So I present her first blog, with a few more to follow in the coming weeks, for she has just begun Smile

KRISTEN’S DIARY
I love India. I have felt that I wanted to travel like this for so long and it is comforting to know that I am enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I learn something new literally every second of the day. It turns my entire life into a learning experience rather than at home, where I read a textbook to learn something and then slip back into what is comfortable. I really appreciate the opportunity to get to live here for 6 weeks rather than just travelling through. It allows me to understand the underlying factors of the culture here (rather than just seeing the culture). The immersion of living in one place for an extended period of time is invaluable to me.
I love my job. Neev is really interesting because it has many different aspects to it. So I am currently doing very business-type tasks, but I am also getting to learn a lot about the politics and history behind development in India. I find it really interesting that the government schools have the monetary resources but are still not very good quality (teachers don’t care and English isn’t offered). It seems like such a waste to me when schools like Neev need to find sponsorship to offer a better education to children. Hopefully, the longer I am here, the more I will learn and I can come up with something sort of concrete to take advantage of such wasted resources.
On a more superficial note, the food is delicious. I love the spices. Canada does not take advantage of spices. However, it didn’t bother me at all at first, but now I am beginning to miss the variety of Canadian cuisine. And I really miss raw vegetables and salads (which I eat A LOT of at home). I am curious as to whether this is just a hump I will get over, or if I will only continue to miss more things as time goes on. The weather is beautiful. I am very grateful to be here in winter. It is just like a cool summer’s day in Canada (25 during the day and 10-15 at night). Because the weather is colder than I expected, I am able to wear pants and sweatshirts (things which are necessarily modest) without frying. T-shirts are acceptable though (unlike what I read on some blogs prior to arrival) which is a relief. I can’t wait to go shopping for some traditional Indian attire though. They dress so beautifully! I can’t get enough of the vibrant colours.

Kellyn’s Diary: On Education

Kellyn's Diary

A couple of days ago, I got the heartening news that Kellyn who was our intern from America, North Carolina University, last year, completed her graduation in Psychology and has decided to do a two year stint with Teach for America program. After a very rigorous process of interviews, recommendations and live demonstration classes she has been finally accepted as corps for Las Vegas Valley, 2013. Her experience of working with NEEV played a pivotal role in her taking this decision. This was, as is understandable, was not an easy decision for her to come by. In choosing to follow the call of her spirit, she no doubt dashed the expectations of few of her intimate ones. But such is the case with every soul who heeds the inner call.

Kellyn’s interest in education was sparked by what she observed in NEEV School. I am reproducing a diary entry she had written while in Jamshedpur, detailing her views on education.

July 22, 2012
In the United States, we are told that education is a right. That all people should have the equal ability to explore, to learn, and to develop their minds through schooling. That all people should be able to have a chance at a successful future. But here, in India, it seems that education is not a right. It is a privilege, and those who are not born into a particular status or class are, more often than not, deprived of this privilege.
In the United States, we are told that poverty is cyclical. Well until I came here, I didn’t realize just how cyclical poverty could be. The uneducated are poor. The uneducated have children. These children remain uneducated, because neither their families nor their culture seems to value their education. Because their environment does not value their education. And the next generation of the uneducated remain poor. So this cycle continues.
NEEV is one of the few institutions that I have seen so far in India that believes that education should be a right for all people. They believe that the poor should not be destined to remain poor generation after generation, caught in an environment of intellectual neglect. This is where NEEV’s approach is truly integral. Not only does the organization want to educate rural children, they want to enrich the environment in which these children live on both a local scale and, eventually, a national scale. They want to change society so that the nature of poverty is no longer to entrap people. Ambitious? Yes, definitely. Worthwhile? Yes, definitely.
Every day that I see the children at the NEEV Public School, I feel outraged at the fact that the educational system that is in place in India has failed to see the value in them. As if being born in a certain class should determine whether a person deserves to be educated, to receive an opportunity for a brighter future. The children here are vibrant and curious. Unmotivated, at times? Yes, but then again, who isn’t? The point is that no child should ever be told that he or she does not deserve certain opportunities simply based on the environment and the situation in to which he or she was born.
In the United States, this is understood to be a basic truth by most people. But here, it is not the case. It is often easy to simply accept the systems that are already in place in a society, because it appears to be an impossible task for one or two people to redefine an entire social structure. But NEEV cannot and will not accept this. Anurag and Shikha—just two people in a population of over one billion—have refused to accept the flaws in the environment around them. This refusal to settle for a society that is less than fair? It takes imagination. It takes guts. It takes education. And all of us should learn from their example.

A Day at NEEV Soaps – Lisa and Kishan

                        

Humans have the power to transcend race, nationality and boundaries of colour, class, creed and even language. And no other can exemplify this than children, who have not yet learnt that they are limited by such factors.

The whoop of joy that Kishan used to let out on seeing Lisa was unconditional, not born out of any ulterior motives. And it forged a connection between two individuals who belonged to nations across the earth and who did not even speak each other’s language: a bond which shall hopefully continue for a long time to come.

The lovely episodes of interaction between Lisa and Kishan were captured by Puja, Kishan’s sister whom Lisa very graciously gave her digital camera to experiment with. Her generosity gave us a bounty of beautiful moments……….a child capturing moments of another child.

Kishan, as you all might be knowing was sponsored to NEEV School by Lisa and Kellyn. Which reminds me that Kellyn was a bit unfortunate to not have her photos with Kishan as she too shared a very close relationship with him.

The photos capture in a microcosm, the sense of community that NEEV seeks to foster, a community that transcends nations, colours and cultures.

Thanks to all the sponsors who have come forward to support NEEV’s Rural Kids Sponsorship Program, at least these children shall see the light of a different world.