Pehia’s Opportunity Hackathon:One #Deckless talk

Today I spoke at PEHIA’s Opportunity Hackathon. The event provided students more insights into applying for GHCI and Venkat Scholarships.

By the time I got there, the students were all charged from their previous sessions with the winners of the respective programs. Ansu Joseph, Pritika Merryl and Felix Josemon shared their experiences. I started out with an introduction about Rethink and our Guidance systems. Some of the usual things, you might think.

But this time was different in the sense that there was no deck. What we did was initially create a telegram channel and have all the participants join in. As I spoke, I kept sharing guidance on how they can find information by googling.

They very diligently googled for information and located it as well. We found Rethink’s wiki online along with interviews of previous winners.

That’s the girls figuring out stuff googling!

I spoke a bit about our Guidance Systems and Peer-Learning Communities. What followed was magic (that’s how my colleague Sandeep would put it) and fun (and that’s how SKG would put it)!

We had the students ping our Rethinbot on telegram to get them to join our Peer-learning circle. Once you ping the bot, the bot asks for some information about the student post which it would pass on the link to join our Learning community.

Almost all of them did manage to join the group. And what really was magic was that our welcome bot gave them a warm welcome when they joined the group with their name and college name.

How cool is that? Muhammed Shibin has been putting in quite some effort into building this out. He sure does deserve the claps and credits for pulling off this one. Well done, Shibin. We’re all looking forward to lot more fun stuff like this!

To top it all off, we also did a demo of our Google Assistant scholarship guidance bot — Anita Grace. It was a voice demo and evidently the first time these girls saw something like this. They were all so curious and excited!

This is a demo you can checkout if you’d like to know more about what I’m talking:

And that’s how we wrapped up the session. Team PEHIA gave us all a copy of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. This has been on my reading list for a while now. Now that you’ve given the book, I’ll surely read through.

I had the chance to interact with few students post the session as well and it really felt good to know that there are all these amazing girls and boys enthusiastic about these opportunities!

Their feedback about the entire program was also pretty good.

During the session, I had a realisation moment myself. It appears that there were 4 girls from RIT. When I asked them how many of them felt they could do this when they knew Ansu (their senior from college) got in, only one girl raised her hand.

This question was asked well past all the guidance sessions they had in the morning. Ansu herself spoke at the event as well.

This to me, came as a surprise. I sure underestimated the amount of self-belief girls have in themselves. Despite having knowledge about the program, having a previous winner from their own college and interacting with her, their self-belief wasn’t there yet. This sure tells us more about how far we have to go in terms of instilling confidence in these girls and all the more reason why we must invest more time in working with them, doing all that’s possible to boost their morale.

But so far, so good. Today would definitely have been one step forward in the right direction. Enfa Rose George, Sreepriya Radhakrishnan, Mufeeda CK and team, extending my wishes to you all. Some good stuff you’ve done there. Kudos!