Expect the Unexpect, Arduino Workshop Day 1

At the end of the text you’ll find a Hindi version!
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Monday morning. Our “official” start for the workshop.
At 7 am we were ready to leave; the car was ready to start the 25 km journey to the school.
From Sohna, we we are staying to Khasera, a small village alongside the main road going south from Delhi.
The first part of the road, a narrow, very bad road often jammed with trucks carrying huge stones from the near by mines, went pretty well. We made it in less than 10 minutes – over the weekend it sometimes took an hour or more!

But then again India made its promise become true: Expect the unexpect!
10 km down the main road the road was completely blocked.
An accident with chaotic consequences;-)
I mean an accident happens everywhere, right?
But the way Indians behave in the streets – incredible is not an exaggeration.
Whenever they see an open, free space within the jam they occupy it.
No matter if it makes sense or not.
No matter if they are blocking the cars coming from the other side or not.
No matter if the block an ambulance coming from behind.
No matter if it is a car, a truck, a minibus, a scooter, a motorbike, a cow, a buffalo or a goat.
Sometimes monkeys join the circus.
All off to occupy the empty space.
The result: a HUGE MESS.
Just like this morning.

Luckily our driver was brave enough to manoeuvre our minibus over an off-road;-)

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But we weren’t alone on our detour.
Actually a small caravan was finding its way through the fields …

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We arrived half an hour late at the school – but nobody was bothered.
“We have time, you have watches!” – as the Indians tell us;-)

There students were ready; but the accommodations weren’t.
No electricity meaning no fans.
No cleaned room.
No tables.
So we improvised.
We removed the screens and computers – none of them were functioning – from their tables and we built “islands”. At each of these islands 4 to 5 students could easily work.

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We formed 2 working groups – boys and girls separated; 30 kids all in all.
Our goal for the first day was to introduce what we are planning to do during the week and to give the students an idea of ARDUINO is. As we’ve learnt from our first appearance at the school, not an easy job to accomplish. The challenges are multilayered and rooted in

– language problems
– cultural differences and
– the object ARDUINO itself.

Even though we have great support from 2 translators – using the same words doesn’t guarantee understanding. Huge semantic problems were facing us … What kind of meaning has the word “interactive” if you don’t have any understanding of the concept behind it? Besides this problem of meaning it simply would be very, very helpful to speak at least basic Hindi to be capable to communicate with the students directly. Blame on me! Really need to start this endeavour. NOW!

Rural India sounds interesting. But what it means is a complete different set of rules and values and a complete different way of living.
Nothing new. Nevertheless still challenging. One has to accept in order to survive and to make things happen. It’s like continuously pushing a reset button and making your self aware – it is different. So we have to learn how to address young Muslim girls, how to deal as a woman with adolescent boys who rarely see “westerners”. How do you encourage the student’s imagination and self-confidence if all they know are authoritarian learning methods based upon “teach and preach”?

And last but no least ARDUINO itself. It’s not at all an easy task to explain, even back home one would face challenges: why do you need it? What are the benefits? Why do you speak about computers if they don’t have screens and keyboards?

So these first hours with the students were basically to break the ice and set some ground for what we want to achieve. They seemed to be interested and willing to involve – I am not sure though if it was their curiosity to work with foreigners or their will to explore something new. Maybe a mixture of both. So for me it’s much more about the process, the journey we will go through than the effective results at the end … If only one of them takes away more self-confidence (yes, I can program and build something!) and the conviction to make her/his way – then we’ve succeeded.

So the game has just begun …
It’s fun to be with the children and give them hope for something better …
A slightly different perspective you can read here (in German).

We did our schedule for the next day in the afternoon. The work sheets were printed …

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Tomorrow morning at 7 am we’ll take off again!
Let’s see what incredible India has to offer by then …

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Here is a Hindi version of the text
Text 3

2 thoughts on “Expect the Unexpect, Arduino Workshop Day 1”

  1. Hi !! I am an Indian Raghav garg , living in the state of punjab near haryana . I am a mechanical engineer by profession . Is there any way I can be help fir your team in understanding Arduino based robo making . I have some experience with this kind of stuff . Kindly consider it .

    Regards

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