What is this Program?
The Manaloni Manishi Foundation (MMF) has piloted an ambitious Intellectual Empowerment Program (IEP) to help with the personality development of students. Often, students are exposed to the rigors of academic curriculum and gain the skills in solving a given problem but are often unaware of their practical applications and real-world relevance. As parents, we might have had this experience when we were students ourselves where we unable to relate the material we learned in books to their usefulness in the real world. The classroom ambience, fear of being judged by peers or teachers do not give students the opportunity to ask questions about the topics they did not understand well. The MMF’s IEP aims to fill in some of the voids in student development by letting them freely express their thoughts/questions and provide a healthy and monitored platform enabling the intellectual development of students. The program is neither intended to be a substitute for academics, nor is a tutoring service for their school/college work. Instead, the program aims to supplement their intellect with activities that will keep them engaged, enthusiastic, curious, knowledgeable, and expressive.
Why is the MMF offering this program for free?
The MMF is not driven by a financial incentive unlike other institutions that offer variations of this program. Our relationships with the participants are not transactional. We are motivated by the potential of a happy and contended person that can eventually contribute to the upliftment of his/her community. If a child grows up to become a responsible citizen, due to whatever little help we offered, we can deem that to be halfway successful already. We want to celebrate their successes and accomplishments no matter how insignificant they are. We intend to always keep a channel of communication alive with them. We will be elated to learn that a child we worked with received a high score on a test, got first prize in a drawing competition, graduated from college, landed a job, received a promotion, got married, became a parent, etc. Happiness is multiplied when shared with others and we want to be a part of it. We want them to think of us and reach out if they are having roadblocks in their lives and are looking for a guidance and direction.
By humanizing the relationship with the student, our hope is that he/she inculcates a sense of self-motivation to pay it forward by helping others in need and spread happiness around. The day that happens is when we consider ourselves truly successful investing our time and efforts in a child’s intellectual growth. We wish to offer possibilities that we ourselves did not have when growing up.
The IEP, although still in its infancy, is an evolving program and is developed based on previous success with students ranging from 8th class through undergrad college age. This is our second offering of the program. Applicants will be selected based on their response to a written paragraph and will be put in three coaching groups:
- 8th – 10th class
- 11th and 12th class, and
- Bachelor’s/degree college students
Coaches from the MMF volunteer base will meet with assigned groups of students via online technologies (e.g., Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) for an hour over the weekend. Each group will be selected by their age and have no more than 5-6 students to allow for personal attention. The first half of the meeting will focus on student intellectual development activities including, but not limited to, team building activities, group discussions, individual speeches about a topic or an activity of interest, etc. During the second half, guest speakers will be invited to have an interactive discussion of relevant topics with the students. These topics will be age/category relevant. For e.g., science experiments for middle school kids, resume building for college-going youth, etc.
The IEP is primarily powered by the MMF volunteers who donate their time and effort to coach students. As such, only a limited number of students will be subjectively selected through the application process. Selected students are teamed up based on their age groups and each group will have no more than 5-6 students to allow for individual attention by the coaches.
The IEP program sessions are typically an hour long virtual interactive sessions and consists of two halves. The first half of the meeting will focus on student intellectual development activities including, but not limited to, team building activities, group discussions, speaking about a topic or an activity they took up during the week, etc. During the second half, professionals from various fields (e.g., Engineering, Information Technology, Agriculture, Sciences, etc.) meet with the students and discuss their real-world work experience relates to some of the topics students learn in their school/college classrooms. Please look at the next section for details. Together with the students’ individual participation and conversations with the professionals, we have observed increased student engagement and intellectual capabilities.
Details/Requirements of the program:
- Anticipated duration of the program: Eight weeks (May 7, 2023 – Jun 25, 2023), with a possibility to extend two additional weeks
- Tentative time of meetings: Sundays 7.30 pm – 9.00 pm (IST)
- Number of students in a group: 5-6
- Number of groups: TBD based on volunteer availability and number of qualified applicants
- Medium of instruction: English (we encourage participants to engage in English language)
- Requirements: A computer with consistent Internet connection (that can support live video interaction with participants)
- Application deadline: Apr 7, 2023
- Application form: https://forms.gle/e46PGA5tDtVn9pcJ9
IEP for 8th class through 12th class students
(Skip this section if you are a college-going applicant)
Often, middle and high school students undergo the rigors of academic curriculum and gain the skills in solving a given problem but are unaware of their practical applications and real-world relevance. Parents might have had this experience as school-going students themselves when they were unable to relate the material they learned in books to their usefulness in the real world. The classroom ambience, fear of being judged by peers or teachers do not give students the opportunity to ask questions about the topics they did not understand well. The MMF Intellectual Empowerment aims to fill such voids in student development to freely express their thoughts/questions providing a healthy and monitored platform enabling the intellectual development of students. This program is not intended to be a substitute for their academics, nor is a tutoring service for their schoolwork. Instead, we wish to supplement their intellect with activities that will keep them engaged, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and expressive.
Sample student activities and discussions during the first half of the meeting, one per week:
- Team building activities (E.g., Drawsrus, Scribble.io)
- Group discussions and debates (non-politics and non-religious only, E.g., Do we need self-driving cars)
- Book reading (E.g., Discuss what you read in ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’)
- Science (E.g., What is the difference between meteoroids, meteors, meteorites, comets and asteroids? Why is it not safe to boil water in a microwave? etc.)
- Being a good citizen of the earth (E.g., What can I do to conserve energy?)
- Speeches (E.g., What hobby would you choose that can lead to a career and why?)
- Sing or play an instrument
Really, any topic that the students have a passion to talk about or ask questions about
Representative topics covered, during the second half of an IEP session:
- Blogging, web development
- Programming (Scratch, Python, etc.)
- 3D modeling, CGI movies, Virtual Reality
- Gardening and woodworking
- Information Technology, Internet of Things
- Career options
- Meet My Friend … Within
Additionally, the MMF is establishing collaborations with middle schools (8th – 10th grade/class) in India and plans to offer hands on programming and robotics sessions where student participants get to interactively build and program Internet of Things (IoT) hardware. This is dependent on school/student availability and details will be provided once we evaluated the applicants and their interest.
IEP for Degree/Bachelor's students
(Skip this section if you are in 8th class through 12th class)
Note: We are not accepting IEP applications for college-going students this year. We will keep you posted if anything changes.
The definition of success for a college-going student is very subjective and heavily leans on perspective. One student might have aspirations to become a millionaire CEO of a multi-national tech company, while another might seek to become a school teacher in his/her town or village. One student might want to be knowledgeable just enough and wants to follow what everyone in their friends’ circle do, while another aspires for graduate level education and become a researcher.
Regardless of the college or career path a student chooses, we are reasonably certain that every person has a non-materialistic burning passion within themselves that will give them most happiness in his/her life. For some, this might have already manifested to the extent that they freely communicate about it with others, while for others it is dormant or still nascent. For e.g., Ramu was very motivated to finish a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, but he has a passion for composing music. He however suppressed this desire because he felt completing the degree is the most responsible thing to do. He got misdirected as he fell into a conflict pit of happiness vs responsibilities. Life priorities evolve over time, and there is nothing wrong with transforming oneself as he/she grows up. We wished someone told us that it is ok to pursue our passion for inner happiness while still being successful at career.
In the MMF’s IEP offering for college-going students, we will attempt identifying and nurturing these passion traits through conversations and help provide guidance achieving them. In an accommodating and non-judgmental environment, we will listen to students about what they wish to do in their lives. We will have discussions on how a person can invest in oneself for a healthy and prosperous life ahead. For those pursuing jobs, we will provide resume critiques and conduct mock interviews so the students are well-prepared in campus interviews. This is where the MMF wanted to fill a void for students that professional colleges do not typically address.
During an hour of meeting, we will spend the first half hour on student-led activities. In the second half, we will bring professionals from various backgrounds to discuss their humble beginnings and how they worked their way up. Here are a sample mix of topics that professionals have done in the past, and we would like to replicate and improve upon:
- Microgreens and hydroponics
- Career options
- Chemical Engineer talks about waste re-use to produce energy
- How to write a good resume
- Mechanical Engineer talks about how virtual reality works, and their applications
- Mock interviews
- Healthy life choices – food and exercise
- Potential paid internships while still in College
- Navigating money management, retirement savings, buying house, taking loans, filing taxes
- Learning resources to earn money while still in College
Applying to the program
The availability of volunteers is limited so we can only take a set number of students, despite requests for a higher intake. To keep it fair, we screen the applicants based on their demonstration of ability to commit about at least two hours per week outside of our meetings and a 300 word description on why the applicant deserves to be selected over another applicant. Our judging criteria for acceptance into the program will primarily be based on how motivated an applicant is in furthering their intellectual development.
Additionally, we also require them to answer a few English usage questions, which will not be used in evaluating their application to the program but will be helpful for us with logistics (e.g., grouping with possible other students that can communicate at a similar flair in English).
Important: It is critical that the applicants answer these questions by themselves faithfully without seeking help from parents or others, as this will help us gauge them accurately and plan our curriculum around their needs.
Application form: https://forms.gle/e46PGA5tDtVn9pcJ9