There were no fancy accessories, no expensive props, and no high expectations. The simple, honest exhibitions of dance, song, testimonials, and speeches could only witness joy, pleasure, pride, and a deep desire to continue to excel.
This was the recently concluded “congratulatory event” in Chennai, India, organized to felicitate the 100 graduating girls of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP). Today was the culmination of all activities for the year and a time to celebrate. School teachers, VILP girls, Verizon mentors, and parents of some students joined the celebration, which was very meticulously packed to educate, entertain, and engage.
Two confident, witty, and articulate eight-grade students from Lady Sivaswami schools emceed the event, which included cultural performance by students and testimonials by teachers, students, and mentors, as well as networking and photo opportunities with girls from other schools. Verizon mentors and teachers were present to support the girls and the program they had worked so hard on.
At the end of the event while I was quietly reflecting, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction when I saw these future change makers engaged in animated conversation with IIE team members, mentors, and teachers about their performance today and about their educational aspirations in next class after summer vacations. The confidence in the eyes of Akshitha was unparalleled when she saw her photo on the VILP website. And my confidence in these emerging leaders only strengthened when I watched the parents stand for a photo, their faces beaming with pride.
We have completed the first cohort, but the journey will continue when VILP will reach out to more eighth-grade girls and continue to support them in attaining their educational goals.