I have always been fascinated by how Baha’i and Baha’i-inspired organizations tend to evolve so drastically to meet changing conditions and build on experience. The Baha’i Academy is a perfect example. It began in 1982 to provide an academic home for some of the many Baha’i scholars who were forced to flee Iran during the Islamic Revolution. For many years they ran training programs for Baha’is who were coming in from all over the world in venues all over Panchgani like the campus of the New Era Teacher Training Centre and the famous Prospect Hotel. In 1998 the Academy moved into its current home right next to the Baha’i Bhavan (Baha’i Centre) and an old house that apparently Gandhi had stayed in at some point.
'Baha'i Academy 002' by Flickr user Neissan Alessandro
In 2000 it began to collaborate with a number of colleges and universities across the state of Maharashtra to offer a program that helps to fill the gap that exists in value education offered to students. Since then the Academy has gone on to focus more and more on this program and develop curriculum that is used along side curriculum developed by the The Foundation for the Application and Teaching of the Sciences (FUNDAEC) in Columbia.
To support the Academy’s efforts to build institutional capacity I have had the chance to help out things like their three year planning process, website planning, curriculum development and public relations work. One of the main reasons I decided to set out on from home again this year was to have the chance to work in an environment where I could more directly and explicitly apply the teachings of the Baha’i Faith in the context of a formal organization. It’s been incredibly stimulating to spend so much time studying material to try to draw from the experience of other Baha’i-inspired organizations all over the world that are part of this collective learning process about how to effectively engage in social action and discourse.
Click here to see a small set of photos from trip I went on to Nashik for the Baha’i Academy. Click here to see a larger set from the Baha’i Academy, including many of enormous toads.
Yes. I’m the one with the big hair, the helmet and the engraved hunk of plastic. Watch it here. I was accepting the hunk of plastic on behalf of the Otesha Project, where I now work. More on that later.
My internship is over and I have just posted a new set of pictures from the debriefing in Delhi that reunited six of the seven interns sent to India by the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute. The set of Brought to you by links that featured my sponsoring organizations that was to your right, my left, has also been taken down in a small traditional sunrise link removal ceremony with much incense and HTML. The set of pictures includes some from the Canadian High Commissioner to India’s crib, a sit-in by Bhopal disaster survivors, multiple draggings of my co-workers to the Baha’i House of Worship and pictures of us waiting for food. A number of us stuck together for the following days going from place to place stuffing our faces with food. We proved to be perfectly suited co-tourists after having spent the past six months in different parts of India, we were all much more interested in eating than partaking of all the temples, museums and shopping Delhi has to offer.
CIDA’s International Youth Internship Program
To Canadian students nearing the end of just about any degree program I would recommend for them to check out CIDA’s International Youth Internship Program. The listings for next year’s positions should be posted very soon here. I would say that it is probably the best international internship program available to Canadians interested in development out there and disciplines range from Accounting to Zoology. The money comes originally from Human Resources Development Canada then to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) then to many Canadian NGO’s that have applied for internships, who then hire the interns however they choose, train them and send them to THEIR partners overseas.
Even though there are hundreds of positions up for grabs, expect tough competition from other canditates that are smarter, more expireinced, charming and good-looking than you. Applying for positions last summer became something of an occupation for me as I was taking the last classes of my degree with many afternoons of hustling. By the numbers, I applied for 20 positions in 9 different countries from 7 NGOs, was shortlisted for 8 positions, did 3 interviews, got the 1 offer and a partridge in a pear tree.
The third and last stop of my personal pilgrimage through Panchgani was to my parent’s workplace and the buildings my father helped to build when we were there. In the summer of 1996, an old friend, Sherif Rushdy saw that my father was inbetween project management jobs and asked him to bring us over to India to help with the construction marathon that the New Era Development Institute (NEDI) was entering. Continue reading →