During the scorching summer of 2014, I worked with Mashal Academy, an alternate school for underprivileged children in Neelum Colony, a squatter settlement in Karachi, Pakistan. The initiative is primarily run by high school students from The Lyceum; they spend afternoons and early evenings with primary school level children from the area helping them with Math, English, Urdu (the national language) and basic sciences which are part of the Department of Education endorsed curriculum. Mashal was based in a single room, rented by the high school students where they used to help around 15 children with these subjects.
However, because of the superior quality and consistency of education that the students offered, there was a surge in the number of children wanting to attend Mashal. In light of this, I worked with the students to lease a new space which is much bigger and accommodates 34 children and the activities that the mentors plan for them. The new place has two rooms and a huge veranda allowing the students to be divided into two groups depending on their prior academic learning. Over the summer, we also created lesson plans for new subjects including Music, Arts, Drama and Physical Education while also allotting an hour every week for reading time. Given the pedagogical methods in the schools usually available to the children, these new additions are phenomenal – almost unheard of. We also laid ground for two other programs at Mashal: monthly medical check-ups for the children by a qualified pediatrician and a daily lunch program. Both of these are aimed at incentivizing parents to send their children to school while also providing quality services in area where infrastructure for health and hygiene is almost negligible.
Most importantly, we put in place a sustainable donor model for Mashal over the summer. Since the school was housed in smaller premises earlier, the rent was not a very big issue. However, the new house and the expanded services being offered mean that the operating costs have risen substantially. I guided the students towards finding and approaching donors who would pledge to chip in with the costs on a monthly basis for an entire year before renewing their commitments.
Lydia Kerns, class of 2016
Reedies: Intellectuals in a purified form, dedicated to study and learning for its own internal value, blissfully segregating education from career, and proud to scoff when asked to justify their investment in learning with some claim to its practical application. For four years, Reedies live in a sanctuary where the transcendent value from sharing of ideas is reward enough, and any mundane outcome of education beyond the pleasure of pursuing knowledge is of secondary importance. That’s the stereotype, at least.
The question, often posed by parents, “But what are you going to DO with that major?” may be met by a shrug or a sigh, but the undertones of the question carry the notes of a larger question, one that lives in the minds of Reedies and uncertain friends and family alike: How are you going to be successful?
The question is complex and subjective but also universal, held by a majority of Reedies and associated parties. What does it mean to be a successful Reedie? How can we make the most of our scholarship at Reed, staying true to our love of “learning for the sake of learning,” while also growing into individuals who can consider ourselves successful in the world beyond Reed?
You did a couple of Reed Winter Externships last year. Could you tell us what, if any, role they played in your getting your summer internship this year?
I knew I wanted to work in a lab this summer, but it was difficult to write intelligently about why I wanted to work in a lab and do biomedical research without any experience in a lab. It's always hard to break into the world of science with your first research experience, as they are so competitive. My externship at NIAID with Dr. Kottilil was a stepping stone to my first research experience. Having that experience under my belt really gave me something to draw upon while writing my application essays for summer internships and I was able to show that I was confident that I wanted to do research and that I knew what it was all about. In my essays I talked about how interesting I found the research that I had observed and how I really wanted to be a part of it.