Learning, Leadership, and Family
Getting Back In To School
Schools in India have started to open up, allowing SOKFIN high school and college students to return to in-person classes. Although attending in-person classes is not mandatory, the government ended online classes for the upper grades. SOFKIN staff checked out the safety protocols the schools put in place before they recommended that students return. They also set up new safety and health procedures for the students to follow at SOFKIN, including separating them from the other children who continue to take online classes at home.
While the students are excited to return to school and see their friends, adjusting to the new normal is somewhat stressful. “I can’t breathe when I have to wear a mask all the time!” is a frequent complaint. Students in 6th to 8th grades will start in-person classes next month.
Staying Road Safe Too!
Over twenty SOFKIN students in elementary and high school participated in an open competition for National Road Safety Month, from 18 January to 17 February, sponsored by the Cyberabad Traffic Police. The children wrote essays, created drawings and paintings, and composed song lyrics, all related to road safety. The children had fun, learned something about road safety, and received a certificate for participation.
As reported in an earlier blog, Chaya holds online meetings every Saturday at SOFKIN to discuss weekly progress reports for the children. The reports record the status for each child on the five criteria of Academic Excellence, Behavior, Hygiene, Service and Kindness. The elected group leaders had been presenting these weekly reports. However, in order to expand the opportunities for leadership development, Chaya recently asked that responsibility for the reports be shared by all members in the group on a rotating basis. The designated group members are responsible for writing and presenting the report – in English – when their turn comes. They are all taking this new assignment very seriously!
Chaya also selects 3 group leaders each week to take over her role of leading and facilitating the meeting. She now observes the meeting, stepping in to offer guidance and support only as needed. Both of these changes have created a subtle shift in the purpose and tone of the meetings. The children and young people are now reporting to, and holding each other accountable, rather than directing their attention to Chaya.
Also providing support for the weekly meetings is Mythri, a SOFKIN student who graduated from college a couple years ago and is employed at PamTen as an HR Executive. Coming full circle, Mythri is now helping SOFKIN by reviewing the written reports prior to the Saturday meetings, making necessary corrections, and assisting Chaya during the meetings.
Several other students of SOFKIN have been given responsibilities to maintain hygiene, health, and safety of the homes.
Encouraging Young Women
Another leadership development opportunity for SOFKIN girls in high school and college is participation in SheTek webinars. SheTek, a non-profit organization, was founded by Chaya with the purpose of encouraging more women to enter the field of technology. As Chaya explains, “I believe that women are wired for technology. But it has always been difficult to make career advances in a male dominated field.” The SheTek webinars are designed to tackle a variety of topics that help women prepare for, and succeed, in the technology professions.
When she launched SheTek, Chaya had an eye on the young women at SOFKIN. By being invited to participate (along with any of the young men who may be interested), they are being exposed to professional-level discussions and networking on a global scale. The SOFKIN girls are excited to take advantage of this opportunity!
Songfest Competition Registration is Open!
Singers of all ages are invited to compete in SOFKIN Songfest, a virtual competition and fundraiser. Non-professional singers can showcase their talent, all while raising funds for underprivileged children in India. No previous experience is needed – just a minimum $10 donation and completing your registration is all it takes to get in on the challenge.
Semi-finals and Finals will be televised on TV Asia Telugu!
Anyone can enter for the chance to win exciting prizes and direct feedback from Tollywood celebrity judges! Special awards will be presented for outstanding performances. Additional awards will go to those that raise the most funds for the SOFKIN homes.
Contestants have until the end of March (March 30st) to register and enter the first round of this exciting event. Once you register, you’ll receive instructions to upload your video, additional fundraising details, and complete competition timeline. Share the news and tell your friends!