“A few months before the summers started, job recruitments and internship drives were the two buzz topics that preoccupied the minds of most third and fourth year Luminities. I was surprised to find that most of my colleagues and friends were extremely focused; they knew exactly where they wanted to intern, which department they were interested in and how their internship linked to their future careers. I, on the other hand, was easily in the category of those who are lost. I knew I had a passion for journalism, writing and a genuine desire to do something that might help society. Working at an NGO or a newspaper seemed to fit in most well with these interests so I applied for internships at organizations working in these two fields.
I became more familiar with TEF and what it does as I read about it on the website. I remember being impressed when I read that the organization has adopted 85 government schools which it is now striving to improve. I also remember thinking to myself that this would be a great way for me to learn about what work is being done in the education sector in Pakistan.
I came in a batch with two other interns, and the three of us were each assigned to one senior member of the organization. I worked as an intern under the Communication Officer; my job was to assist her in the various projects, assignments, and tasks at hand.
Most of these tasks involved handling of social media, marketing, and promotion. The tasks I was assigned were fairly simple and straightforward. Some of the tasks were rather mundane such as editing and proofreading of TEF’s policy manuals. Other tasks required more creativity such as designing of certificates for children participating in the summer camp program in Lodhran. Some of the other work that I did as an intern included making of a short promotional video on the summer camp, finding templates/designs on which the brochures/newsletter could be based, promoting the TEF facebook page, finding information and quotes that could be put up on the website, generating ideas and designs for making the new TEF logo and taking/editing of office pictures to be put up on the website.
Without a doubt, the most exciting thing about my one-month internship at TEF was the two day trip to Lodhran. The internship coordinator had shown us a few documentaries of the kind of work being done at the schools; she also mentioned that it was an entirely different experience seeing all of it in real life. The schools were closed for the summers in the time period that we were going but a summer camp was happening.
The summer camp initiative taken by TEF included a variety of activities and sessions; it became quite obvious after briefly observing the children that these were activities that they were enjoying immensely. The activities and sessions included sports, arts, dramatics, creative writing, and mathematics. There were also movie sessions and sessions on personal hygiene. Transportation was provided by TEF to the children as a form of incentive to join the camp.
The sports activities for boys and girls took place on alternate days on the huge lawn next to the guest house. The sports activities included cricket, football, throw ball, discuss throw, javelin throw and long jump. Professional trainers had come from Karachi the previous week and trained the TEF staff in these different forms of athletics.
Energy drinks were given to the children at the end of the sports activities. They participated in the athletics with enthusiasm and excitement. Considering the conservative culture and norms of the area, I had been expecting at least a certain level of hesitancy and awkwardness from the girls whilst playing sports. But that turned out to be an incorrect preconception on my part. The girls were very forthcoming and eager, taking part in all the games with confidence and self-assurance. Many of them were even comfortable enough to wear shirts, trousers, and caps along with joggers.
Mathematics and creative writing sessions were also conducted as part of the summer camp initiative. The creative writing sessions were meant to allow the students to let their imagination run wild, writing about diverse topics without any restriction. Dramatics was another part of the summer camp that the girls took part in. They put together three plays, all in the Siraiki language. The script, dialogues, props and makeup was all handled by the students themselves. This came as a huge surprise to us as this was the first time that these girls were ever acting in a play.
After seeing all the activities taking place at the summer camp, we headed out on a short visit to see the infrastructural work being done at the TEF adopted schools. We visited a total of 6 schools, 3 for boys and 3 for girls. We visited schools where TEF operations have been completed to a large extent, schools where work is still underway and some schools where little work has started. The work that TEF has done in some of these schools included the building of extra classrooms, toilets, wash basins and boundary walls. Provision of furniture, electric pumps, books and sports equipment is some of the other work that has been done at these schools. Hiring of caretakers for the purpose of cleaning and maintaining the schools is another initiative taken by TEF. Plantation drives is yet another project undertaken in which students and teachers plant trees on school premises and have the responsibility of taking care of them.
On the whole, my one-month internship at TEF turned out to be a great learning experience for me. Apart from the fact that I was able to familiarize myself with the workings of an office environment, I also learned a great deal from my interaction with everyone working at TEF, both in the Lahore and Lodhran office. This played a huge role in making the internship such a great opportunity to learn. The trip to Lodhran gave me a real-life sample of the work that TEF is carrying out in the region. It was truly heartening to see the work being done there. Interaction with the students, teachers and TEF coordinators in Lodhran was a testimony to the positive impact that TEF is having. The summer camp and its activities was an eye opener for us; it showed that children need to be given opportunities for their talents and potential to come to the forefront. TEF operations in Lodhran are giving children this opportunity and it was a great experience to have been a part of”.