Students from Virginia Tech and University conduct a session in Ganjam. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, July 4: They came, they taught, they conquered.
A group of students from Virginia Tech and University of Wisconsin was here in the state for six weeks as part of their summer programme to work with local students and implement projects on sanitation, youth empowerment and many more.
The students, who had reached the state in May, worked at villages of Ganjam and carried out several projects in the area. For six weeks, they had conducted spoken English and computer classes. The students left for their homes yesterday.
"We began with English and computer classes. We divided the students into a junior and senior class, practised basic vocabulary and grammar with the juniors and advanced conversational English with the seniors. In the computer classes, we began with typing skills and then taught them Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel," said Katherine Banchoff, a student of Virginia Tech.
More than 60 students from various schools and colleges in Gopalpur were engaged to discuss among themselves and assess the needs in their communities as well as develop an action plan for each village.
"The local students then used the Microsoft applications to further develop their ideas. It was a great exercise for both project development and computer literacy," said Katherine, who is leading the project.
Micro projects such as sanitation at Venkatraipur and Deegipur villages, personal hygiene at New Baxipali, and signature campaign in Gopalpur were carried out by dividing the students into groups.
The group of foreign students, including Elizabeth Bahret, Caed Cunningham, Jacqueline Spigai, Samuel Gittelman, Elizabeth Dennis and Samanta Marie, are also members of Nourish International - a student body that engages with students for community empowerment. The project was implemented with the support of Voluntary Integration for Education & Welfare of Society.
G. Krishna Rao from the voluntary organisation said: "Every youth must contribute to their own community. The whole idea of this initiative is to promote students social responsibility. We intend to create similar chapters in colleges and universities of Odisha, so that our students can spare some time and work towards the deprived."
K. Sushant, a student from Deegipur village, said: "It was a great opportunity for us to interact with international students and develop our communication and computer skills. More than anything, they have taught us how we can work together in groups and catapult our village towards development."