The Scale and Size of Impact

|Author: Carmen|

This is a sign off, as my last GCIL 2019 blog post I will read aloud at 8 in the morning to my groggy classmates that look drowsily at their steel platters of uncracked eggs and juicy papaya. In the last seven weeks I’ve enjoyed these breakfasts and I’ve enjoyed hearing everyone’s voices.

We have just submitted our initial reports today (Congratulations, everyone. Hopefully this late, late night was worth it). Now, we have 3 weeks left in Bangalore, 22 days left working with our partner organization, and 528 hours left to learn as much as we can while we are here in India. While it feels that we have come near the end, I am not at all close to feeling done. For one, there are five books from the ISI library that are sitting on my desk and waiting to be read, but I have only accomplished one. There are morning routines I would like to finally to make a reality, like waking up early to go on the roof to stretch and afterward going to the ISI reading room to read the daily papers, but this routine has never been successful because it has never prevailed over the option to sleep in more. And in relation with our project, Team APSA has been talking with a few different resources (Agastya International Foundation, Shanti Bhavan School, government schools, and the Bangalore Educational Commissioner) that could help us rethink and iterate our design, but I am unsure how we can visit all of them and wondering how we can prioritize these resources.

However, the most unresolved thing stirring in my mind was prompted by a teacher at APSA and might be the most important thought to me as I think about how the next few weeks will play out. We were sharing the process of our GCIL project, and how our team was able to identify our grand challenge by conducting interviews with the girls at APSA and then able to ideate multiple solutions that ranged from bad to good to what we have now. She smiled, surprised, and responded that our work has been quite different from the other volunteers that have come by the Dream School. She then said:

“But when you go back to Washington, these girls, and these issues here will be irrelevant.”

I have been thinking about this statement for quite some time now. It is so sad to say, but she is absolutely right. When we leave to go back home in twenty-two days, these grand challenges that we have been working so hard to digest and dissect and twist and turn so we can analyze every single face of these issues will not be relevant. Most of us will be entering our last quarter of our undergraduate years and will return to the U District and get back into the Spring quarter school grind. These issues here, will not be relevant.

I wanted to abruptly begin this next part by asking: what is the point? But then I quickly deleted this inquiry because I don’t know how to begin answering this, and I truthfully don’t think this question matters. The point is, I’m here in India. And after pondering my work and project, and thinking about what is specific to my case and my team, I’ve decided a better question to focus on is how I will be able to use these next three weeks at the Dream School so these girls can remember our time here as something more than these foreigners who spent a lot of time at the school with their laptops and asked a lot of questions. Interacting with these students have been an integral part of my experience here in India, and my hope is that they are getting something out of our visit to India as well.

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