The Ma Foi Foundation, one of the most well-known social organizations in Southern India, is a humanitarian group that strives to provide education to the poor, empower women, and seek talents. It is branch under The Ma Foi Management Group, which is a human resource company that head hunts executives or provide solutions for any HR problems other companies may have. The reason that The Ma Foi Foundation is created is because the Indian government provides incentives for companies to do social work. Therefore, even though the foundation focuses on social work, all workers are paid, except for the interns. The foundation is further divided up into several branches that focus on different issues. Disha Initiative focuses on providing scholarship for the poor to finish their studies. Dish Sports Academy focuses physical activities such as boxing and “football” (soccer in American English). Ekam Initiative focuses on empowering women, which includes providing funds for women to open shops or lease equipment since it is tremendously difficult for women to find jobs in India.
Being an intern, I was expected to organize weekly learning material and contact potential donors. The organize materials were used in the learning workshops. The materials were in three categories: Life skills, Leadership skills, and Learning skills. Life skills included interpersonal skills, stress management, career guidance, conflict management and many other skills important in life. Leadership skills are skills that help the individuals to become better leaders and followers. Learning skills are skills that assist the students to learn more efficiently. Learning skills is consisted of time management, organization, taking notes, cognitive structure, and forgetting. It may seen awkward that forgetting is part of learning skills but what it focuses on is why people forget and how to counter forgetting.
I learned so much from organizing the learning materials. There was so much knowledge that made me felt “I wish I knew this earlier.” It was a very different learning experience. Sometimes in school, I sit in the classroom, listening to the professor, thinking that I will never find an occasion to put this knowledge into good use. However, I felt the knowledge that I organized in Ma Foi Foundation is actually relevant to my life. In addition to the relevance of the knowledge, the method of learning is also different. Instead of listening and pure memorization, I had the opportunity to actually design the material such as making assessments regarding certain abilities and creating power points and workbooks for the students.
Another task that I had to do was contacting potential donors about the company. Over thousands of e-mails were made every day, and it would be a blessing if five people had replied. It would be an honor if two out of the five who replied would donate. It was discouraging at first, receiving countless rejections over the phone. Some were evasive but most were blatant. It was hard to hold my emotions back at first. I had to hold my urge to say “A simple No would have had the same effect as to swearing at me, Sir.” Through this task, I learned to be more patient and empathetic. To be honest, I hate soliciting calls myself, even though I do not swear or yell at the solicitor. Knowing this, I became less angry about getting sworn or yelled at. In essence, this task made me a better communicator and developed my interpersonal skills.
As an intern working for Disha, I was able to interview Disha Coordinator, Mr. Jeyaseelan, regarding the roots of Disha initiative. This initiative is created to prevent a vicious cycle that commonly occurs in India. The poor lack education and the capability to do any kind of work other than physical labor, which pays very little. Therefore, the poor stays poor. Disha initiative provides scholarship to children whose basic needs are hardly met and education is considered as a luxury.
One of the most difficult things that I had to go through was that sexism is tolerated. I felt that one of the only two female employees was constantly picked on by a male employee who had authority. Another difficult adjustment that I had to make was that the concept of space and touch is different than that of Canada. Indians tend to touch without permission and that made me uncomfortable. Being a foreigner, I decided to adjust myself instead of making judgments, because I know that India is not going to change for me.
Impact of this Work Term
In school, I study International Business as my concentration. It was fortunate for me to find a job abroad to get a preview of international business. It provided an opportunity for me to put the knowledge that I have gained in school into good use, and I have better understanding of the knowledge that words cannot convey. However, knowledge is worthless unless put to use. It is not hard to inscribe the knowledge into the brain, but the application in itself is the key. For example, I know what culture shock is before going to India and all the ways to counter it, but still, my adjustment was not easy. I had to struggle. For example, I know that I should not judge other cultures but it is hard not to. This co-op term gave me the opportunity to explore the good and the bad in international business. Yes, I have met people from countries where racism is justified and made unpleasant remarks about my ethnicity, but overall, I enjoyed international business. In the end, this co-op term further confirms my future career in international business.