Beyond The School Gates: Educating The Underprivileged Through My Social Internship

Sonam Shakya, 2020 student of MBA-Finance, FIIB

“We are delighted to share that in our three years of association with FIIB, Friends and Smile has and continues to benefit from the maturity, diligence, and commitment displayed by FIIB Student-interns and their Faculty Mentors.”
Dr. Mukta Baxi, Director, Surgical Endocrinologist and Surgical Oncologist, Friends and Smile

Entering an MBA college was not something that “I planned since the beginning, the inspiration actually came from my Mother’s belief that Education makes people skilled and equips them to engage in meaningful professions and thus contribute to their own and society’s socio-economic well-being.” Pursuing masters felt like the right track that will “engage me in a meaningful profession” and as the social internship opportunity came along during the course, “it undoubtedly gave a proven voice to my mother beliefs.”

Education as an enabler

I was brought up in a family where educating girls seems no different than educating boys,” she says. There are no social stereotypes attached to it, yet “sometimes it is hard for me to understand why my mother is so concerned about my higher education.” Maybe it’s because of the fact that India is still a country where not only girls but boys too aren’t often really blessed with the basic right of education. 

Though Sonam was aware of this situation even back then, but not entirely concerned about the challenges associated with it. “I never related to Education as an enabler to a good life until I got selected in Friends n Smile Foundation for my Social Internship.”

Facing the reality

I was just a girl with her own dreams until this social internship thing happened to me.” The first day at Friends n Smile Foundation was none less than facing the reality as one presentation taught her “education is a powerful tool which empowers communities to turn around their lives.” The main motto of the foundation in which Sonam was interning is to emphasize the basic education and skill development among underprivileged. According to Sonam, educating someone for their own good isn’t as easy as it seems; to teach individuals and along with it to create awareness among the societies and schools for fundraising goes beyond just a challenge. It is much bigger, it is something like.. facing the reality of mindsets, system and everything else.  

Importance of spreading awareness 

Listening to her mother at home and interning at the foundation taught two things to Sonam: first, education can really change people’s lives and second, spreading awareness that actually works is not that easy. Every time when the foundation asked the interns to arrange a camp for spreading the awareness, “I could feel that the real challenge is here and it’s time to bleed & sweat for the society’s well-being.” 

Although the list of challenges were as usual bigger than the chances of hope, her mentor counted on her among those set of individuals who are hard to knockdown, the chances of hope exceeded with some kinder deeds. As Sonam conveys that “I came up with an idea to strengthen the faculties working there first,” and with the in-house training on basics of computers, faculties stopped doing the student records manually. “As interns, this was the real change we made, that not only secured foundation members but also encouraged them to bring the change from within first.” 

The Internship Takeaway

Education is not limited to school or college; it is beyond that, it is in the tiny things that we do every day. It is a real enabler of better lives and strong voice. It was hard to connect “what I learned from my faculties at college to what I could teach to those underprivileged students.” But, here comes the second internship takeaway – try to build interest of people in things you want them to participate in. Spreading awareness is all about building interest and not just about getting your job done.