A brand new year had finally begun. I was super excited and I wanted to work very hard this year. I met all my batch-mates after a long time; everyone had something different going on. I had changed a lot too. I looked a little different, I felt more prepared to face challenges. I had not missed Yelahanka so much since I stayed back in the summer for the igem course; due to this some of us had gotten very close.
After a little while of socializing and staring at the new batch we all had to assemble as Ramesh was going to introduce us to our courses. There were five options:
· Social craft
· Fair and lovely, brown and beautiful
· Product design course affiliated to NIF (National innovation foundation)
· Autism village project
· Old people
Nothing really attracted me towards it except the autism village project. I was enthralled by the idea of working with children with special needs. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea about what I had signed up for. Then Ramesh assigned our campuses to us. What a nightmar-
e it was! Everyone loves old campus but because there were too many new students, our batch was divided and shifted to many campuses. Social craft was working on the terrace of the N3 campus. The NIF group was working in old campus itself. The rest of the groups were all sent to CEMA campus.
We all left the building and started to walk towards CEMA campus and when we reached CEMA campus we were so disappointed. It was this really ugly house which we had to use as a campus. The rooms were really small for our classes.
Everyone was really upset but then, Dr Koshy entered the room and everyone’s faces lit up. I do not mean to be a teacher’s pet or anything, but I get very good vibes from Koshy.
So our first class started and Koshy explained to us that we would be doing extensive research on autism and architecture, since our final project was going to be an architectural model of an urban village for autistic people.
Our first proper assignment was to research on hexayurts and make one. No one in our class knew what a hexayurt was. As we read about a lot of new things we learnt about architecture and design. Our outlook towards everything around us was changing. I am attaching an image of the hexayurt I made here.
The next week we had to start going on field trips to various schools and institutions. The ones I visited were:
· Nirmala Shishu Bhavan
· Asha Kiran school
· Communication Deall
· Asha School
I had no idea that these places were going to completely change my outlook towards my whole life.
The minute I entered Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, I was overwhelmed. There were all these children in a room completely helpless and they had all these paddings attached to them. I could not believe how fortunate I was. Me being a very emotional person, I couldn’t even get myself to enter the room. I got extremely shaky. Daniella saw this and came and calmed me down. I did interact with a few children later. I really liked to speak to them. Most of them were very bright. There were two boys from Texas who were volunteering at the institution; one was fifteen and the other was thirteen. They were brothers and both of them were very good with the children.
At this institution most of the children are abandoned by parents or dropped off there by parents. They do not really have great facilities or funds. Even after that they all looked very happy to see us there.
The next day we visited Asha Kiran School. Koshy’s son studies there. Since we were the group dealing with the education section we had to design a school. This particular field trip helped us understand autistic people a lot better. The Principal of the school, Miss Rita James spent a lot of time with us and personally showed us around. We interacted with a lot of autistic people. We met Koshy’s son, Reuel too. I played with him a little bit. Autistic people are usually physically capable. So this place was not so visually moving. We all learnt a lot about autistic people on that day.
We all left the place feeling very pleased with the way the school functions and how the Principal takes care of all the children. She told us about some very bright students too. As we were walking out towards the road, we saw this cow and this woman. The cow's face was completely distorted. That visual really disturbed me. I hadn’t slept the previous night, as I could not forget the visuals I saw the previous day. That night I could not sleep again. The cow’s visual did not leave my mind.
I was sick the next day hence I did not go on the Spastic Society of Karnataka field trip. I slept the whole day. I watched a few episodes of ‘How I met your mother’ to distract myself from the visuals.
Then we visited Communication Deall. This place dealt with children from the age of zero to six. It dealt with only autistic children. There were various therapies we learnt about. It was a very small building and everyone managed just fine. All the educators looked very happy. They all loved their work. All the children had very bright eyes. Some of them were very happy to see us and some were scared. By this time we all knew the basics of how to handle autistic children. We interacted with a few children. A lot of the children were non-verbal.
The next day we went to Asha School. This bunch of women ran this school, mostly parents. This school was also just for autistic children, up to the age of eighteen. The system they followed in this school was very smart. They divided students into classes by the level of their needs and not age wise. This helped the children a lot. They explained to us in detail about the functioning of the school. Then they showed us the products all the students had made. They all were really beautiful. They were so well crafted. When we left this school, we knew what all we had to do for the school we were designing.
The next few weeks went in building the models and making 3D models on Google sketch up. Our group worked really well. Everyone understood each other’s ideas and used them correctly. We were really fast in our work process too. The images of the same are put up on the blog.
This whole course taught me a lot. Not just about architecture and design, but also about life. I learnt that I am very gifted and fortunate. My little bubble had been burst. I had learnt to see beyond myself, to the other side.
- Durga Sunil Gawde