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Our Experience Working With The Bharti Foundation

In this blog, our Global Experience Opportunity interns will be writing a series of weekly blogs from their experience of working with the Bharti Foundation, a company that aims to improve education in primary and secondary school in India. This blog will be based upon their experience of local culture, sights and their work on the internship. Our students will also be updating you on what they have been getting involved in and enjoying each week!

Week 1

On Sunday, we arrived to the accommodation just in time for England vs India cricket game. Harvey and I decided to head to Hauz Khaus village in order to find somewhere to witness England’s triumph; we were not disappointed when we stumbled upon a roof top bar with an incredibly pretty view of the deer park and a projector for the match. After England’s victory and a bit of gloating we headed back to our hotel.

The next morning was our first day of work, which required an early wake up time, something Harvey does not quite have the hang of – to the annoyance of the driver he will go on to lie about something to do with shower time. On arriving at the Airtel centre we met Jitesh, our mentor, he introduced us to the very kind and forthcoming team at the Bharti Foundation.

Our first project is to get to grips with Indian education system and to understand the ins and outs of how it works. It was on our first day that Harvey was first introduced to Aloo Matar and since then there has not been a day on which Harvey has not eaten it. Our first two days are all very introductory but thoroughly enjoyable.

On Wednesday morning, we were prepared to do our presentation at 10:00. However, nothing has a strict deadline here, once we presented finally at 11:30, we received some positive feedback as well as some pointers to improve our understanding of the education system. We then had a Research Brief from Jitesh, which covered the basics on how a research project should be conducted. It was fun finishing early as there was an awards ceremony for the employees (we were sadly not invited). Our initial plan was to explore old Delhi on our time off but that did not go to plan. We all had a nap when we got to the accommodation and did not wake up until the evening. They boys somehow had the energy to still go out and explore whereas Hiba and I stayed home and relaxed after a long 3-hour day at the office! The boys did not have too much luck with old Delhi as most tourist places are closed at the minute. 

Unfortunately, on Thursday we had our first casualty of Delhi belly where Hiba became unwell and could not make it into work, which I reckon is due to all the fried rice we had been eating. Thursday was a laid-back day at the office where we began understanding the Satya Bharti quality support programme by reading relevant guidelines and documents. We have been tasked with coming up with questions to ask the programme directors and state heads in order to have an in depth understanding of the programme before we start the research project. The workday was very light and we had the independence to get on with it ourselves. We also had a video chat with the University to ensure everything was going smoothly. After work, we relaxed in our rooms for most of the evening apart from a few trips out to get Ice cream – it is both convenient and dangerous to have two ice cream carts right outside our accommodation!

Week 2

Monday and Tuesday involved briefings on our field trips and assignments now that we have the required background knowledge on the Indian education system. After the first week of settling in, we were ready to get stuck in to our research project.

On Wednesday, we continued to produce our resources needed to collect the data when in the field. This involved creating questionnaires, interviews and focus group templates. Incessant, disorientating, and uncontrollable are all words that can be used to describe the Indian road system. Knowing that the favour may need to be returned at some point, Hiba was happy to absorb Charlies workload enabling him to stay at home.

Thursday involved much of the same, with the first trip to Jodhpur just a few days away we were working hard to ensure that all the required resources were in place, as there would be no time or printers available to make amendments whilst on the road. The Cricket world cup was being shown in the office communal space. Watching India go 6 runs for 3 wickets in their semi-final amongst a crowd of devout India fans was as awkward as it was amusing. Charlie does not know the first thing about cricket, but after explaining the magnitude of the occasion, even he saw the funny side.

Friday saw us all wake up with a spring in our step because once the clock struck 18:00 we would make our way to Agra for the weekend. However, this excitement was put to one side once we entered the office as the final day of work before we set off for Jodhpur, so everything needed to be in place. After finalising and printing our resources, we embarked on our journey to Agra. To no surprise, the highlight of the trip was seeing the Taj Mahal, which somehow managed to exceed the lofty expectations we had for it. The low-point of the trip was the four of us huddled around a hostel computer screen for two hours trying to find out where Charlie had left his stuffed teddy bear which he takes everywhere he goes. Luckily, it was returned to the hostel and before long we were back in Dehli to rest up for the week ahead.

Week 3

On Sunday afternoon we headed on our first work trip to Rajasthan, which was a 10-hour overnight train journey where Harvey and Charlie barely managed to fit into the bunk beds. It was Dharshanaa’s first time on a train and she was highly impressed with the quality compared to what she has seen on the many Tamil movies she has watched. Hiba had a hard time falling asleep, but the others slept like a log, and by morning we had reached our destination.

Much to our surprise, it was not as hot as we had anticipated despite Rajasthan being the desert capital of India, it was windy and not as humid or polluted as Delhi. We were taken to the resort where we had an hour to get ready, had fruit for breakfast after two weeks and then headed to the schools to work on our project. During the course of the week we split into two teams to cover more schools and collect data. Hiba and Charlie, clearly being the most efficient ones always managed to get back to the resort earlier than Dharshanaa and Harvey, despite having Jitesh (our project manager) to help them do most of their work. The schools welcomed us whole heartedly and Harvey was introduced to his now favorite drink – Mountain Dew. On one of the days, our car got stuck in the sand and everyone was disappointed at how useless Charlie was regardless of his rather tall physique.

The week passed by quite quickly by visiting the schools during the day and laid-back evenings by the pool. We also had the chance to celebrate Dharshanaa’s birthday with her favorite cream filled cake. We were all quite sad to leave Rajasthan however Harvey is planning to go back after the internship to steal one of the kids from the school.

Week 4

Week 4 started with a literal bang – Charlie’s natural intrepidness, venturing out into the ferocious monsoon rain left him with a nasty cut to his head, which required us to take a trip to the hospital for him to receive 6 staples to his head. However, he soldiered on and did not let this wound get in the way of his work at Bharti.

The next day after work we went on a group outing to the mall to watch Lion King. I have never cried whilst watching a film before but after seeing the new Lion King I have now done so thrice, Mufasa was a great king.

The next day we were due to embark on another field trip after work and another lengthy train journey, this time to Amritsar in the Punjab region. The field trips have been an enormous highlight for me getting to meet all the children who view me as some sort of attraction I believe, due to my abnormal height. It is truly eye-opening, however, seeing the challenges they face and their indomitable attitude when approaching them, be it a sand storm or a rain storm they never cease to overcome it in order to reach their school.

Whilst doing fieldwork in Amritsar we were also able to do some sight-seeing. Jitesh, Charlie and I decided to visit the Golden Temple, an extremely sacred spot for Sikhs and the aesthetic of the architecture was amazing. After the visit we chowed down on some traditional Punjab food and just generally had a very pleasant time. It was a thoroughly enjoyable excursion but now back to writing up the research project for the next two weeks which is going to be hectic!

– Harvey.

Week 5

Week 5 is when we started to feel the pressure of writing up our report. We separated the work so that we could do both the Alumni presentation and the QSP reports together. Hiba worked on the presentation and the rest of the group took different parts of the report. We were due to present to Antony, the head of the Satya Bharti schools, by Friday but not before we had edited the presentation to perfection.

Most of our time that week was spent working. Some evenings we would take a trip to the mall to do some shopping and get some fruit as by this point we were tired of all the curries. When Friday arrived we spent a few hours rehearsing the presentation. Our presentation was a new experience as it was more relaxed than expected and felt more like a conversation. This made it easy to express all our ideas and findings in a casual way. Antony also gave us a few changes to make but overall we were pleased with it.

That weekend we went to Rahul bagh to explore the markets and to buy gifts for our family. Sadly we couldn’t find much of interest so headed to Hauz Kauz for drinks. Harvey took us to the rooftop bar with a beautiful view of the monkey gardens. However the drinks were pricy so we had one, enjoyed the views then headed home.

Week 6

We started the final week feeling the pressure of finishing the report. Once again we divided certain sections of the report and set to work. Time in the office has never gone by so fast as it did this week. Jitesh had stated that he did not like our first draft, which left us all disappointed. We all spent Tuesday afternoon sitting in one room working on the report. We handed in our draft on Wednesday and eagerly awaited feedback from Jitesh. We were happy to hear that he really liked the new draft. We spent the next day working on the final changes and the presentation for the QSP study. As Thursday was Charlie’s last day we had a little celebration at the end of the day. We enjoyed some snacks including a very nice cheesecake to my surprise (I have not had good experiences with cheesecake or even cheese in India).

On our last day we were excited to present to the CEO with the best of the team left. We rehearsed the presentations with Jitesh and were a little nervous by the end. Whilst we sat anxiously in Mumta mam’s meeting room she entered in haste and told us we only had 22 minutes to present. Without a minute to lose we started our first presentation, often being told to skip forward. Whenever needed we stopped and discussed points of interest. We didn’t even notice others enter the room. Mumta mam was pleased to see the range of our study and pointed out areas that needed to be addressed to her team. We ran through both the presentation and all our points so fast we didn’t have time to feel nervous. By the end we were all so pleased and excited to have finished all of our work. Jitesh had kindly got us some gifts and Mumta mam presented us with our certificates. Once we had said thank you and our goodbyes we went down for lunch for the last time. As nice as a last meal at Bharti sounded I didn’t think my stomach could handle more curry and rice so I skipped lunch. We also bought a cake for Jitesh to say thanks for all the support. We were excited to present it to him and even scared him to bring him to the room. He kindly offered to share it with Binu and Antony but that gesture went horribly wrong when we ended up giving our cake to a room full of people we had never seen. We still managed to get a piece. The day ended with a lovely chat with Sumeen and Jitesh whilst waiting for out taxi home.

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