For eight weeks this summer, CUbiC undergraduate researcher Raji Ganesan will be a volunteer intern for the NGO Barefoot College based in Rajasthan, India. Barefoot College is a college for India’s rural population. The philosophy of Barefoot College is essentially “you cannot have an urban solution to a rural problem, but you need a rural solution to a rural problem.” With this operating philosophy of empowering the population to create their own solutions, the villagers helped design and built the campus, and the grandmothers (in accordance with the cornerstone of women’s empowerment), became unofficially trained solar engineers to solar power the campus. Barefoot College operates a night school so children in the village who have to do farm work during the day, can have an opportunity get an education that empowers them in their day-to-day lives and futures. The organization has pillars and programs in craft making, communication and performance arts, solar engineering, health and sanitation, and education. But all of these programs are run by the villagers themselves, so they feel empowered to remain connected in their own villages, instead of leaving their communities for solutions and opportunities in the cities. Barefoot College has now expanded to countries in Africa and Latin America.
Raji will be an international volunteer intern in the flagship campus in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India. She will be assisting in a number of arenas, namely assistance in tech literacy and communication for community building, as well as measurement and evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the programs for the general populace.