In March Asha, Anil and Arun – three of our Open Schoolers – went on a learning excursion to Rajasthan. Rachael Hammerlein, US citizen with a deep affection for India and a dear friend of mine, accompanied them. Their first stop was at The Barefoot College in Tilonia and from there they went up north to Sardarshahr to attend the Learning Societies Unconference Conference (LSUC).


The Barefoot College believes in the endless potential of the rural poor. Barefoot College forges a first-of-its-kind, women-centered, global network dedicated to sustainable development in every community where poverty exists. I’ve been there three time before the kids finally managed to go.

The following post is all about the learning the four had at Barefoot College and what they took home from it.

Rachael Hammerlein talking about her learning from Barefoot College

Learning from campus observations.

Learning from Observation was a spontaneous undertaking that happened while we were sitting outside the dinning room and waiting for the lunch to be served. We were able to focus on the dust bins because we knew Anil and Arun were going to tackle the waste management training. By observing our environment with the goal in mind we were able to learn by direct observation and the boys enjoyed learning in this way.

Design of dust bins: Arun made photos of the waste bins and understands the components of this design and has an idea of where the first model could be placed in Janwaar. The “aha” moment was the roof on top of the bin 🙂

Mural map of village. We discussed making a mural map of Janwaar that would give route to places of interest to the visitors in Janwaar. Places included both skateparks, school, homestays, lake, snack shops and locations of waste bins!

The Mural Map of Janwaar is a project I would like to see happen and can involve the whole village and give plenty of projects for the children to work on for understanding how maps works.

Photo Gallery. At the Barefoot College they have very nice photos in the community room that tell the story of the people and work being done in the villages. How can we keep on improving on documentation?

The gift shop: Only Asha made it to the gift shop but she liked seeing that interesting things could be made by people in the village and sold for earning and came up with ideas for things to be made in Janwaar.

Learning from Puppetry Workshop.

Asha went through the process of puppet making from paper maché. We all listened and discussed the power of story telling and the use of puppets/ plays and drama to convey messages of concern for the village.

Topics discussed for which to use puppets:

  1. Parent education and how Villa works.
  2. How special education works.
  3. Waste management.
  4. Children’s Parliament

Asha connecting with the elderly lady who has been with Barefoot College made for a meaningful connection for Asha and told a great story of a young woman being inspired by an elder.

Asha, Arun and Anil can all work on making a puppet show for and with the kids.

Learning from Waste Management Workshop.

Anil and Arun learned the process of recycling and making bricks from plastic waste.

We discussed the implementation of better waste management in Janwaar. The first step being is properly managing the trash from the Villa dust bins.

When the boys returned to Janwaar and made the shoe rack out of old skateboards, we sent the image to the folks at Barefoot College and they where happy to see that the ideas of reusing where being put into action.

What needs to be followed up:

What can be sold can be sold in Panna but need to find out where to go in Panna to sell. Who will go into Panna and find this out? How do we set up a system to implement this process?

What can’t be sold there should be a discussion on if it is going to be burned, buried or a combination of both. Who and how is the trash being manged now?

Once the system is working on these steps for the Villa then bins can be created in the villa and the system expanded.

We only set goals for the waste management but on review I think follow up for the puppet show and mural project should also be addressed.

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