Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM

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Programme in Development Management

Language Barriers

By Yogesh Bhatt

When you enter as a student in Tata-Dhan Academy, within two or three days, you will go for a village exposure. At that time, many people told us that “language is not a barrier for a development professional.” But was it true? After my first village stay, I did not agree with this statement; we faced many communication problems during this first village stay.

This time, on 7 October 2010, after 3 months as TDA students, we again visited a village for our participatory learning methods (PALM) lab. Just imagine: for eight students, there were two faculty members (Shanthi Ma’m and Ananda) and three translators. That much support you cannot expect in any institute other than our TDA.

Here I am not sharing what we did and learned in our PALM lab. My intention is just to share our experiences outside of formal classes. Three days, 13 water pumps, morning nature walk, young thambigal and thangaigal following us, and Ananda’s informal English classes and biscuits. I am sure no tourism package will be more adventurous than that.

The first day, we reached the village at 7:30 AM; after our formal introduction with villagers, we enjoyed paranthas. (Everyone was trying to take breakfast earlier than Ananda–I do not know why….) In between formal sessions we enjoyed a talk with local children and with Ananda. We were trying to learn a few Tamil words.

On the second day, we went for a bath under a water pump. It was a great experience; for many of us, it was the first time we were enjoying a pump set bath. After day long struggle with different PALM demonstrations, enjoyed our time with the local children. When they were playing with us, running behind us, fighting with us, for the first time I realized that yes “language is not a barrier for anyone, because a pure heart smile can break all the barriers.” That night we stayed up until 2 AM completing our charts and demonstrations.

On the last day, two women from the village shared their experiences. At that time, one said that Shanthi Ma’m was her guru. I was shocked! How anyone can become someone’s guru within two days? The lady explained that within these two days she learnt many things from Shanthi Ma’m about how we can accomplish any task by proper planning and determination, and that all problems can be solved with an evergreen smile. Later, when all the villagers gathered, we shared our experiences with the villagers, all of whom invited us to return. The children were just shouting and talking to us in Tamil.

It was a great journey and a powerful experience. I think that now, we too can proudly say to our juniors that “language not a barrier for a development professional.”

View some photos from our three-days at our online gallery!

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Filed under: PDM 11,

One Response

  1. Pulkit Rastogi says:

    Win hearts through hearts!!!

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