“Wow. I want to be here!” said one of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP) girls looking at the Verizon facility in Hyderabad, India.
Taking back the story a little bit, the VILP girls are about to complete their annual academic cycle designed to promote STEM education among girls, and this year was different in many ways. They had no problem learning the concepts of algebra and photosynthesis, as they had access to technology to conduct virtual experiments and view animations, and because they could pause and ask questions and seek additional guidance from the teachers after class. They even developed their own lesson plans.
In addition, highly committed Verizon volunteers offered their weekends to mentor the VILP girls. The girls built a rapport with their mentors, exchanged thoughts and ideas, shared dreams, and, together, weaved pathways to catch their dreams. It was a sharing and learning process not only for the girls but also the Verizon mentors. In her statement, one of the Verizon mentors said, “I never thought that these children will teach me lessons about life because I am well settled; but I was wrong.”
It had been an incredible five months of soaking in technology-enabled learning and generating interest in science and math for the VILP girls. Summing up her experiences, Reshma from Mehboobia high school in Hyderabad said, “I never liked STEM subjects but the guidance of my teachers and Verizon mentors and education technology has changed my perception.”
This year’s mentoring process is being wrapped up, and the girls are preparing for the final annual examination in February and March. The concluding activity was the much awaited exposure trip to the Verizon facility last week. In two cities, Hyderabad and Chennai, 180 girls along with their 18 teachers participated in these half-day trips. As we guided the girls through elevators and offices, their interest to learn about Verizon was increasing by the minute. A brief tour of the facilities left them mesmerized, seeing so many young girls and women working in the field of technology. They conceived for themselves a brighter future, despite all odds.
The girls also met their mentors at the facility, who by then had become their close friends, regarded even as their as elder sisters. All the girls were happy to see their mentors working in such a huge office, and they immediately started to chit chat—an inspiring and fulfilling moment for all of us. As a token of appreciation for the program, the girls presented the life-touching testimonies about their experience of the program.
“Wow. I want to be here!” Yes that is what all of us at VILP want. We wish these extraordinary girls best of the luck for the annual examination and our message to all these enkindled souls is “See you there!”