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Inside Project 17’s Collaboration with RISE School

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

RISE School on International Science Day / Courtesy of Araika Ramchandran

Project 17’s Creative Director Araika Ramchandran spent the month of February at RISE School, a school in rural India dedicated to providing the same opportunities to rural children as those who grow up in India’s cities. Through her time there, she expanded Project 17's impact by designing and executing an SDG-themed International Science Day curriculum. Here’s what she shared about her experience:

My grandparents started RISE School in 2000 with just 4 students and an ox cart for a bus. Now, over 20 years later, the school is thriving with over 400 students, 4 school buses, and grades Pre-Kindergarten to 10th grade. As I observed their school days and classes, I noticed that every student had an eagerness to learn and deepened curiosity about the world beyond their village. These students attend school because they want to learn, and this reminded me that education is a privilege, not a right. As a student from a different country, with different experiences, the students were eager to learn about my life, and Project 17 came up several times. Though these students have never heard of the 17 SDGs, and they were eager to learn. So, I decided to find a way to teach them about sustainability through a two-week-long project.

RISE School on International Science Day / Courtesy of Araika Ramchandran

After receiving the go-ahead from the school’s principal, I designed a curriculum structure where each grade level focused on a different SDG, so that the older students could tackle some of the more complicated SDGs. Then, my brother and I split up the grades and taught a series of lessons to each class covering three main topics: What is this SDG? Why does this SDG matter in this community? How can you develop solutions for India within the umbrella of this SDG? Through lessons that spanned a week, I utilized my knowledge from Project 17, as well as Project 17’s newsletters, to teach them about the foreign notion of an SDG. While the topic was new, the students had endless ideas and solutions to increase sustainability in their communities. We held fruitful discussions where students shared ideas, questioned the execution of solutions, and expanded upon their peers’ perspectives.

The second week was devoted to making their sustainability models, intending to complete them by Science Day on February 28th, 2023. I was astonished to see students design RISE School with a solar panel energy system, develop trash sorting methods for the villages, and plan out carpool systems to decrease car emissions. While I was unable to be there for their presentations on February 28th, I was delighted to see the pictures sent to me of their models and the student’s smiles.

RISE School on International Science Day / Courtesy of Araika Ramchandran

This experience was incredibly valuable in many ways, from learning how to teach someone else across a language barrier, to understanding how sustainability looks different for each community. Most importantly, I learned that caring and advocating for sustainability is a choice: these students live in one of the most rural parts of India with extremely low family incomes. However, they choose to come to school each day instead of working for their families. They chose to engage with sustainability and wholeheartedly follow through with Science Day projects.

If they can step up now, despite financial and societal burdens, then so can we.

Learn more. Speak up. Stand up now.

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