Intentional Communication

Gianna Hernandez, Global Links Graduate Assistant

The internal workings of an international non-for-profit are complex and constantly changing. I’ve been blown away by the forms of communication and information exchange alone. To communicate with our volunteers and mentors in India, we use Outlook, Google Docs, Skype, and Whatsapp. To communicate with our domestic partners, we switch over to Dropbox, Outlook, conference calls, and when possible – face to face meetings. To work within Rollins, we meet face to face, text, or any of the above platforms already mentioned.

It’s daunting.

There are a few steps that must be followed while sifting through these various platforms of communication, in order to ensure constancy and achieving organizational goals. I’ve listed them out briefly here, in hopes that this will support others future success, while supporting my own reflection, after a month of working with Global Links.

Step one: ask the right questions. Never allow the fear of seeming clueless keep you from truly remaining clueless. If specific requirements weren’t given for the task, ask. If dates for deliverables were not set, ask. If you don’t know who the team is talk about for project collaboration, ask.

Step two: tailor to your audience. In the same way you wouldn’t speak to your boss the way you speak to your best friend, you must be mindful not only of your tone but of your vocabulary when communicating with your many partners. When communicating to India, be aware that your vocabulary is different. A task is not “hard,” it’s “difficult”. A rock is hard.

Step three: revise your work. With all the responsibilities and moving parts that make up an organization, you might feel too busy to take an extra few minutes to reexamine your communication. Magnify the consequences of that rash decision, and realize that your work, and your organizations credibility lessens with minimal and seemingly carless mistakes. Take an extra five minutes, step away, and come back considering the details of your product.

The purpose of communicating is to create understanding and action; these components are at the heart of any organization. Be intentional when communicating- “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” (Buddha)

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A Little Progress Each Day Adds Up to Big Results

Priya Khandelwal, Global Links Volunteer 2017

Currently, I am pursuing my undergraduate degree from Shri Shikshayatan College. Dr. Rumpa Chakraborty, my professor of Shri Shikshayatan College, informed us about the Global Links Programme . The very first thought I had was, I can gain more experience and share knowledge I have with others. Vimala Devi, my entrepreneur from ISW (N.G.O), has a grocery shop of her own and works with her husband. My first visit with her on the 28th of August made it very clear that this journey would be the toughest! Reason being: she didn’t turn up and made an excuse by sending her daughter. I and my mentors didn’t lose hope. Instead, we went to her shop and finally met. That very first day, I received one more shock. She has no savings for the future!

After gathering a bit of information about her family, I returned home. Here came one more problem- she had no personal phone. Her family had just one phone that remains with her husband, who is the most dominant factor influencing her behaviour. After two weeks, I finally got her on the phone. I immediately planned our next visit, but this too was turning out to be a failure with the same excuse! So, in order to make it a success, I decided to meet her at her shop. I travelled two hours with just one hope- that she would be present there.

On this second visit, I tried my best to inform her about my reason for being there. With the end of this visit, I came to know about one more problem she had been facing: she does not have an identity card i.e. an Aadhar card. Every citizen of India should have this card by now. My main goal is Women Empowerment. From what I could observe, her full attention was focused towards earning money and spending it. She had no thought about saving some of the money, not just for herself, but for the future of her family. Therefore, on my third visit, in order to motivate her to save money, I gave her a small piggy bank. A small gesture from one person can bring great results.
I would like to end by saying that before this experience, everything seemed a bit easy. But it didn’t turn out like that at all. Previously, I used to be a person who easily looses her temper, but now I am learning to control my temper, and obviously always staying positive! Thus, it is not just she who will definitely gain something, but it’s me too, who will acquire this experience for the rest of my life.

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My Global Links Journey So Far

Sanchari Chatterjee, Global Links Volunteer 2017

I started my Global Links journey with a strong will to contribute my part to the society. The journey has just begun and the path ahead of me is long. I wish to enjoy the journey and not worry about the end, for it is the journey that makes it memorable. While I find thorns in my way, I also find beautiful scented petals in the form of guidance from my beloved teachers, and support from my fellow colleagues. No matter what difficulty came my way, I never gave up hope knowing I am not alone in this journey.

Every time I burn down from the pressure and hardships, I emerge as a new phoenix from the ashes. Global links gave me a chance to meet a woman like Mrs. Naaz Akhtar, and to learn and grow with her in this process.

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Global Links had started as an internship but is turning into a family, a bond, an experience and a medium to shout out to the world and say “I am the change”.

SMALL CHANGES MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE

Pooja Jaiswal, Global Links Volunteer 2017

This is Pooja Jaiswal. This year I have completed my graduation from Shri Shikshayatan College. When I was in my third year of college I heard about the Global Links Programme. Our professor Dr. Rumpa Chakraborty held a seminar about the Global Links Programme. On that day, I came to know what Global Links was about. At that time, I thought I could gain some experience and knowledge through this programme. After joining this programme, I have attended two to three workshops. As I am a very shy girl, I generally don’t talk to unknown people in our first or second meeting, but in the workshop I interacted with many strangers and had a great experience. In the Global Links Programme, 30 student are selected, and I am one of the lucky ones.

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On the 22nd of September, 2017, the Global Links team introduced me to my entrepreneur, Naima Shakil. On that day, I came to know about her and about her business. Naima Shakil is 19 years old. She is a college student. At a very young age she was running her own business, with the help of the internet.  She makes handmade gift items like cards, bouquets, scrape books, chocolate bouquet, etc. and sells these items through Instagram.

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At that time, I realized that her cost for a product was high and she got very few orders because she does not have enough exposure. So I decided to work on these two problems first. I gave her advice to buy product material at cheaper rates and I also suggested the specific market where she can get the material at a cheaper rate; but here, we had one more problem. She is just a 19 year old girl.  Her family won’t allow her to go alone. So on my second visit, I took the initiative to take her to the market to show her some shops.

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On my third visit, I tried to solve the second problem. She does not have a lot of links. She runs her own business on Instagram. I decided to make a new business account on Facebook, where she can get more orders.

I would like to conclude by saying, it is not easy to run your own business. Before experiencing all this, it seemed very easy, but now I realize it is not. I have to work very hard because Naima Shakil is just 19 years old. I have to guide her very carefully, and I am giving my 100% and I will never lose hope. Over all I gained practical knowledge about business and so far had a good experience.

My Global Links Journey

Priyanshi Rungta, Global Links Volunteer 2017

The first day I met my entrepreneur was the 24th of August. Before meeting my entrepreneur, I visited other entrepreneurs with my peer team members and got to know that all the entrepreneurs are mainly involved in the business of handmade products. When I knew about this, I got super excited because I am interested in handmade cards and similar products. After those visits, it was my turn and I met my entrepreneur Miss Nandini Sen who designs clothes like sarees, blouses, and Punjabi kurtas and has been in this business for 10 years.

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After this visit I knew that I will have to work hard because my knowledge of clothes is very limited and I was worried that I might not be able to help my entrepreneur without knowing much about this field. Even though Miss Nandini has other source of income, she wants to work on her own business in which she can create designs and play with the colors. The designs she creates are really amazing because of the premium quality of clothes, the great sense of colours, and the incredible stitching work.

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When I visited my entrepreneur the second time, I wanted to see her products to do a market survey on the clothes and designs. I found out, however, that she doesn’t have any stock as she herself doesn’t design the clothes but instead gives the raw materials to hired labors who are residents of some remote area to design them.

This got me a little worried because I will not have any stock to showcase so I decided to come up with a solution to that problem. I decided to discuss the problem with my teacher and with her help I came up with the solution of maintaining a catalogue. When I started to implement the solution, I found out that Miss Nandini doesn’t have any photographs of her previous designs so I decided to make the catalogue by sketching the sarees and other designs on paper by hand. By doing this, we can have a variety of designs in order to showcase to customers.

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My entrepreneur loved the catalogue idea because she won’t have to spend much on maintaining stock. After creating the designs, it came time to socialize her business as social media is the best way to advertise and get people to know about your business. We created a Facebook page for her business and named it BARNALI, which means a collection of colors. The main motive for this page was not only to advertise but also to solve the stock issue as she can upload pictures of her sarees and other designs whenever she gets orders even if she doesn’t have stock.

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One problem with social media is that not everyone uses Facebook so I had to think of more ideas to reach more people. We came up with the idea of printing leaflets to distribute in nearby schools to show to the mothers there. Since Miss Nandini’s mother also used to go there, this was easy to do. We started working on the design of the leaflets and are currently waiting for them to be finished by the print shop.

The best thing about my entrepreneur is her accepting nature as she always listens to my ideas which encourages me to always think of new ones.  Miss Nandini always treats me like a mother and always asks me about my day whenever I visit her for work. She treats me like a friend and when we meet for work we always have tea and chat together.

I would like to thank Global Links for selecting me for this program because it allowed me to work with an entrepreneur. I also want to become an entrepreneur and working with Miss Nandini helps me live my dream.

Confidence Is Beautiful

Ritika Das, Global Links Volunteer 

It was the 1st of November 2017 at 4:30pm and it was time for our first tea party with the U.S. Consul General, Dr. Craig Hall, where we, the Global Links volunteers, had to present ourselves and give a 2-minute speech where we introduced our entrepreneurs. I was very nervous as I have stage phobia and it is very tough for me to speak in front of a large number of people.

When the ultimate time came for me to go to the stage and speak,  all I could think was, “Oh god! I just can’t do it. I’ll mess up everything,” among many other similar thoughts that were going in my head in the few seconds when I stood up from my chair until I reached the podium. Approximately 3 seconds of silence passed where I forgot everything, after which I started speaking- “Good evening to our U.S. Consul General…….” It went on for 2 minutes and ended with a big round of applause. That feeling of getting applauded cannot be explained by words.

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After that 2-minute speech I got to know a new me. I got to know that I can speak in front of people and I felt that confidence in me. All these things couldn’t have happened if my mentors wouldn’t have trusted and supported me from the beginning. One sentence- “You can do it!” has helped me achieve my goal in such a beautiful manner.

Global Links has given me the chance to know a better me. I am thankful to the Global Links team and my mentors for their continuous support and guidance. The journey has just started and I am waiting to explore myself more with the help of Global Links.

Women’s Global Leadership Forum 2017

Sreedipta Dhar Choudhury, Global Links Changemaker 2017

It was an incredibly honorable moment for me when I knew I was going to be a part of the Women’s Global Leadership Forum at the University of Virginia, focused on the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. I was part of a special cohort of 30 emerging leaders from 25 countries who were invited to attend the forum. I was fortunate to have been able to attend the forum with Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee, faculty of Business Management of University of Calcutta and Global Links Scholar 2015-2017.

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The Global Leadership Forum in partnership with Tupperware Brands, Jefferson Trust, Molly and Robert Hardie, brought together more than 400 women from around the world. The Forum addressed issues such as Economic Mobility and Equity; Health and Education Challenges for Women and Girls; Women and Political Power; and Leadership and Gender Equality. Participants included three women who have run for president, a senior member of the U.S. Senate, an advocate for the Arctic, four university presidents, four CEOs, several entrepreneurs, philanthropists, along with 30 emerging leaders with new viewpoints and perspectives.

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(From left) Mr Rick Goings, CEO Tupperware Brands; Mrs Susan Goings, wife of Mr Rick Goings; Elinor Steele,VP Global Communications Tupperware Brands.

During the Forum, we participated in plenary sessions, small group discussions, breakout workshops, site visits to community organizations, and together we developed innovative ideas and effective solutions to ensure that women and girls around the world have access to quality educational opportunities that will set them up for lifelong success.  I engaged in roundtable discussions, participated in design thinking workshops, attended community visits and had conversations about the lines of poverty, economic factors, the need for gender sensitive teaching, cultural and societal norms and practices, employability, health education linkages and policy frameworks with people from all over the world.

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I was extremely fortunate to have been able to attend a luncheon with former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton followed by a keynote address. She inspired me by her words of resilience and remaining true to our passion and how she remained resilient even after months from the election.

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We got a brief opportunity to share our Global Links experience with her and it was a moment of pride to have been congratulated by her for the work Global Links is doing for the empowerment of female entrepreneurs and the promotion of gender equality in India.

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Dr. Banerjee and I also took part in a panel discussion moderated by Elinor Steele, VP Global Communications at Tupperware. We put forward our Global Links experience and how Global Links was a catalyst in bringing about a positive change in the lives of the entrepreneurs in India and we shared our views on the linkages between education and empowerment particularly in the economic arena.

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Attending the Global Leadership Forum has been a one of a kind experience that has helped me gain new skills, knowledge, and perspectives to address gender inequality in education and to develop new methods for testing and applying problem solving techniques and social entrepreneurship approaches. The activities in which I participated during the Forum helped me realize that all our nations had different yet relatable issues and this experience was a source of inspiration for me. I learned how listening, learning, supporting, interpreting, and reflecting bring about incremental success which translates into transformational changes.

Through the Forum, I created lasting professional ties with other emerging leaders, participants and professionals where we exchanged support, advice, and ideas. Optimistic and creative expression and collaborative culture was the essence of the Forum where we came together to improve scenarios of Gender Inequality worldwide and let the world see a brighter light tomorrow.

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A Journey of a Thousand Miles

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -Lao Tzu

My name is Arundipta Roy and I am a Global Links Volunteer for 2017-18. In this blog, I would like to share my Global Links Journey so far with Mrs. Sipra Nandi, my entrepreneur. To start with, the first thing that needs to be mentioned is that my entrepreneur is the senior most in our team and even at the age of seventy, she takes on the daunting challenges associated with managing her business single handedly. I must confess that I am in awe of this exceptional lady.

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Supported by her loving family, she utilizes her free hours productively and strives towards financial independence, braving her heart ailments to carry on her business for as long as she can. She is an inspiration to all women and I am proud to be there to witness her drive and passion, to learn from her, and to help her as much as I can in every possible arena where she needs guidance or knowledge. Also, I must mention that I have seldom come across a gentler soul and I truly admire her spirit for it.

My journey so far has been an enlightening one. I acquired firsthand experiences regarding what a business looks like, how it is managed, what are the problems faced in a business, and how to tackle those problems, among many other valuable lessons. The Global Links program has been immensely helpful as it has taught me new things, inculcated new perspectives, and helped me take on endeavors I never knew I could.

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In this journey, I was able to meet so many wonderful people, get to know them, and learn from them. A few of those people include my teachers Rumpa Ma’am, Abira Ma’am and Anusri Ma’am, my entrepreneur, Mrs. Sipra Nandi, my peers and many more wonderful people like Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on, Yasmin, and Michelle who are all an integral part of this beautiful initiative called Global Links. I should also mention that my fellow volunteers are a treat to be with. Their tremendous drive and perseverance is mind boggling and in turn they motivate me to give my 110%.

 

My entrepreneur has taught me many things. She taught me that you can do anything if you really want to and that age is just a number. Change is not an easy thing, but my entrepreneur is not daunted by change. She is willing to step in the world of technology, about which she knows nothing, to better her business and even expand it. Very few people will venture into the unknown head first, especially at her age and that is why Mrs. Nandi’s compassion is worth applauding. She really is an inspiration to all willing to empower themselves and quite boldly goes to show that Old certainly is Gold.

When I was asked to write a blog about my Global Links Journey, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to express my gratitude to each and every person related to this wonderful initiative as my journey became meaningful because of their participation and support. Thank you for letting me be a part of such an amazing journey!

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Story of a Lifetime

Pooja Das, Global Links Volunteer

I would love to share my personal experience with Global Links programme. Since last year, it had been my dream to become a volunteer in Global Links, and now I got the wonderful opportunity to be a part of it. Through this programme, I came to know about how they are helping or empowering the underprivileged women over various modes. I have been paired with a great entrepreneur, named Mrs. Mallika Bhattacharya, who is the founder and director of Raka Crafts Welfare Society (RCWS), an NGO associated with handicrafts.

Since 2007, Mrs. Bhattacharya has established her own business by her own work. RCWS has 400 underprivileged women in its fold who develop handicraft products and make a livelihood out of them.  She deals with a wide range of businesses from making handicraft products to dealing with tourism. Besides being an enthusiastic entrepreneur, she is also a mentor and trainer in Enterprise Development Institute (EDI) and working hard for women empowerment.

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Her life story is generic yet unique. She said by her own mouth that “Survival, I have learnt, is not always for food and shelter but more often for dignity. My existential struggle and subsequent journey towards empowerment was for dignity as an individual and as a woman.” I would like to share her life story from her own mouth.

Mrs. Bhattacharya’s life was simple until she got married and resided in Hind-motor in 2004, a small town in Hooghly district of West Bengal. She was solely responsible for managing the household, as soon as her mother-in-law died.  The whole situation left her helpless and time loomed large in front of her like a vast canvas but she has nothing to paint in it.

Despite of being in that situation she proved herself as the most powerful woman and she has become a living example for everyone. She has started with her training and pursued many skills courses which helped in developing her. She underwent various developmental programs in weaving, crafting, embroidery, and in travel and tourism. The quest of learning pulled her up in this platform. Now her life has taken a new dimension in which I have also became a part of. Her mother is helping her out by taking care of her two children and the rest of the household.

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Apart from helping my entrepreneur to enhance her business I have been able to put together many new networks. I am very happy that being so busy in her daily life she entertains me to the fullest and it really feels very nice when I heard that I would be able to conduct one photo shoot session in Amazon for her products and sell through e-commerce.  She has been awarded for participation in a lot of social work. Through this wonderful opportunity, I promise to reach out and help the other less privileged women in society.

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Voyage Jusqu’ici

Sohini Roy, Global Links Volunteer 

The first time I came across Global Links was when the previous year’s selected 12 students were giving their final presentation in the University of Calcutta, Alipore Campus, in front of the then U.S. Public Relations Officer, Mr. Greg Pardo. I was mesmerized by the work they had done and the immense effort they had put to make it a success in their own ways. The fact that the top five students would get to go to Rollins College for two weeks was even more captivating.

I was disappointed when I realized that such program never came to our school, Shri Shikshayatan College, which made me ask my teacher why that was the case. I remember her saying “Probably this year it will come.” After a few days we got to know that she, our very own Rumpa Ma’am, was set to go to Rollins College, Florida for six months as their scholar. I was filled with pride as well as excitement.

My friends and I made up our minds to apply for this program and had sheer determination to do everything to be one of the students who gets to go to Florida. Six months later when Ma’am came back, our journey with Global Links started with an orientation programme. From helping organize it to actually applying for it, my heart raced the entire time. Getting to know Dr. Conway, Yasmin, and Michelle was cherry on top.

Although clearing the first round was an achievement in itself, my heart pounded when I got the mail of my selection for the second phase of the programme as well. I realized in that very moment about the tricky road ahead of us. It is not easy, especially when I have to get out of my comfort zone and deal with various situations that I normally would have dodged.

The day finally arrived when I would get to meet the entrepreneur with whom I would be working. The first important thing that I was told to do in this programme was to build a good and strong rapport with my entrepreneur to make things go as smoothly as possible. A number of questions came across my mind during the car ride- from Benayak’s entrepreneur’s house to mine. “How is she? Is she friendly? Will she make things that difficult for me like Kalapi and others said they usually do? Do I really want to do this? Am I ready for this?”

Before I could find the answers for the last two questions, I was already at her house with Abira Ma’am, Anushree Ma’am, Sarah, and Benayak. There was no turning back from this moment onwards because there is no way I am going to give up once I start this journey. Then I was introduced to my entrepreneur Rina Dutta; standing in front of me with so many questions in her eyes and that made me a bit more nervous.

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Although the teachers did the initial introduction and my job was to just listen, it made me quite anxious about my second field visit which I had to do alone. During the second visit I tried to familiarize with Mrs. Dutta’s business. She has been associated with the NGO Argho for quite a few years now and has been selling her products through the organization. She specializes in making handmade bags using macramé, jewellery and soft toys.

When I met her, she did not have any business of her own and used to work on orders that were given to her by Argho. Although there are a lot of hurdles in her personal life, she was thinking about starting her own business for a long time, other than selling things through this organization and participating in fairs. Till then she would require my help to show her new designs and things made using macramé, improve her spoken English and guide her with all the things she needs to do and remember while opening her business such as setting the price of the products, accounts handling, delivery options etc.

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I started focusing on these things and began with her English lessons during the third visit. Although she has some basic knowledge in English, she finds it difficult to understand the meaning of a sentence properly and speak fluently with correct pronunciations. By my sixth field visit, I have successfully helped her in starting her own business by creating a Facebook page- “Kumkum Creations” and we are in the initial stages of our promotion.

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I have contacted Biswa Bangla officials hoping to get a chance to present Rina Dutta’s work to their marketing department. Biswa Bangla is one of the biggest platforms in West Bengal to showcase the talents of emerging entrepreneurs like Mrs. Dutta. We have received a date for meeting them with some of her products. As I got to know her more, I learnt that although she receives no financial or emotional support from her family regarding her business, she does not believe in giving up on her dreams. Her positive approach towards her life makes me want to work even harder to help her achieve her dreams.

Even if I do not get to go to the next level of the programme, it’s an absolute pleasure working with Global Links and I will cherish this journey all my life.