My one day in a classroom

On December 2, 2018, I had an opportunity to participate in Teach for Nepal’s purposeful initiative – One day in a classroom.

“One Day in a Classroom” aims to bring inspirational leaders from diverse sectors into classrooms in public schools for a day, where students have very limited exposure to real-life models. The visitors are expected to inspire students with their life stories, struggles, successes, lessons they have learned, their past or current job, their travels, education, or share about people who inspired them when they were growing up.

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The School Door gives us a hearty welcome.

As part of the program, I along with TFN fellows traveled to a school in Thulosirubari, situated at Sindhupalchowk District of Nepal. Ninety-five percent school buildings in Sindhupalchowk district have suffered damage due to the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015. Kundala Devi School, the one we visited had also recently recovered after the earthquake’s heavy damages.

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Kundaladevi School standing tall after earthquake destruction.

Having worked in an entrepreneurship ecosystem for more than 6 years now, I put my small effort of creating a pool of entrepreneurs in Sindhupalchowk’s Kundala Devi School. I organized a small ad contest and made the Grade 10 students endorse the local products around them in groups. The task was to create an ad concept and present it in front of the class. The winners would be declared by consensus of the students and TFN fellows present in the class.

Some snapshots of students working in teams:

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Product: Jute Bag
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Product: Milk
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Product: Bottled Water

Snapshots of pitching their ad concepts:

It felt exceptional to observe the enthusiasm of these students while working in groups. I also shared with them how ad creation and local entrepreneurship are big pockets in cities. They were absolutely thrilled and asked me questions like:

“Do we have to have a lot of money to make a lot of money?”

“Are you educated in Nepal?”

I have worked with a handful of big and small teams/companies, taught entrepreneurship in different business school of Nepal but my observation on asking the right question is that-  it is always “Children” who get it right. Their queries are often very upfront and to the point. While I believe in speaking kindly and having a good set of negotiation skills, I am not a big fan of crafted communication skills. Maybe one of the too many reasons why I instantly connect to children is because we have a common tongue.

I tried my best to answer them fairly by keeping it straight as well. I told them that money definitely helps but it is hard work and grit that does all the magic. I shared some stories about self-made entrepreneurs. Also, briefly described the zest of  Riley Csernica’s Tedtalk on creating a business from nothing. The Zero=One concept really lit there faces up with hope as it did mine when I first heard about it.

On the second question, I noticed that children from underprivileged schools in Nepal consider people educated abroad or even schools in the cities of Nepal as unmatchable. It was much easier for me to find common ground with them coz I could at the least start with “Yes, I am educated in Nepal.” This somehow boosted their confidence as well.

I then explained how the internet is making education equally accessible to all regardless of geography and other boundaries. This perhaps removed their anchoring bias on people, place, and education. I wish we could do something better on improving internet facilities in different districts of Nepal and also train students on how to leverage the internet for educational purposes.

After the session, some of the children dreamt of becoming “No. 1 Byaparis” (as they say) which was very rewarding to me. Byapari is a Nepali word for a businessman.

One objective of my entrepreneurship session was to replicate a chunk of what I instruct to grown-ups in business schools, to grade 10 children of Sindhupalchowk district and learn the similarities/differences if any. My extract from teaching kids entrepreneurship is that there is more freedom of creative expression in them than we adults. Part of it could be because as we grow and understand the world more, we unconsciously foster imposter syndrome which makes us hesitant in taking certain decisions or pursuing some ideas.

I also connected to the Marshmallow tower experiment by Tom Wujec on how kindergartners always perform best when building marshmallow towers than entrepreneurs or engineers. The rationale here is that the experimentation mindset of children always outperforms the planning mindset or known problem mindset of entrepreneurs which are often traps.

My session only reinforced my belief on childhood being the best time for learning entrepreneurship.

The winning team’s recital of their product’s ad concept:

Some of my favorite memories:

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This Little man of Kundaladevi School. We had a thing for each other. Adorbs.
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The Math Guy on the left who was on a mission with us to teach Fun Mathematics to children.
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As I take a tour of the school, I am greeted with “Namaste Miss”. My heart exploded a little at this moment.
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Teach For Nepal’s Heroes who are doing all the good work. Not just one day but they are the everyday role models.
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A beautiful note presented to me by the children.
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These boisterous scientists have no clue how much they have inspired me.

Lastly, my sincere gratitude to TFN fellows and Teach for Nepal to what you guys are doing. Education Empowers. Teach for Nepal. Teach for all.

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