Avinya Foundation

#7 Milk Tea, Halapa and Hackathons

“A cup of tea solves everything.” (Unknown)

Right, I’m not really sure where I should start this week. Once you’ve read through this you will understand my conundrum of finding a starting point.
It’s been one of those weeks where everything has been happening at accelerated paces and parallel tug-of-wars.
So instead of starting at the start. Pun intended. I will start with milk tea and halapa 🙂
You may ask how on earth we ended up talking about milk tea and halapa…well…we were discussing the student flow because we needed this for the design concept of our school building and to see what the daily student timetable should look like.
That’s when we stumbled on the topic of mid-morning breaks and what we should offer our students at mid-morning break. The suggestion from Sanjiva was why not something like milk tea and halapa?

Yes, why not!
Coincidentally, I’ve been doing some of my own research on halapa.
No, I’m not losing it (yet).
I’ve been working on a personal project where I’m looking at local food which holds fond memories and makes one nostalgic even and halapa definitely was right up there on the list. It’s mostly forgotten in city life but a staple elsewhere. Considered a healthy snack alternative prepared with local flare and flavour, the recipes  I have found vary based on who you ask. Yet, one thing is undeniable – it’s signature. The leaf it is wrapped in – the senses awakening, fragrant Kenda leaves.
Have I brought back childhood memories for some and looks of confusion from the younger folks reading this 😉 I suppose some of you may be off to find some halapa and some will be googling what halapa is! Either way win-win I say!
Right, on to other updates. Here’s the overview of the other things we contended with this week:
  • Hackathon – How did we get to hackathons? Well, on Monday, Samisa tells Dee and I that we need to do a hackathon. I politely tell him, I’m fine, I don’t need to hack anything. He laughs in his usual way and tells me that it’s a way to get some serious pending stuff done and have a clear way forward. Dee and I look at him doubtfully, but I block out Thursday morning for this. Agenda item no. 1 of the meeting – Samisa induct us into Hackathon. Post hackathon – I am now older and wiser. Though the term originates from IT – what I understood of the whole process was that we were able to work collaboratively and put our ideas in one place and have a clear path to what we are building. We identified key elements of what we need to do to get where we want to be and what new things we needed to have in place to do this. All in all a very successful and productive Thursday morning!
  • Contracts and onboarding – it’s been a lot of HR work to get contracts out for our educator team and to navigate the challenges of being a start up. We are working out the fine print and have an incredible group of pioneer educators who have brought in so much enthusiasm, passion and a whole repertoire of diverse skill sets to our growing team.
  • Avinya Academy Ethos – What do we stand for? We’ve been collaborating on our School ethos and who we are and what we are about as well as what we want to instil in our School culture. We’ll share this with you once the creative juices are all represented on our work.
  • Admissions home stretch – We are almost there!! Systems are now coming together. Samisa tells me he has fixed the broken script and that the admissions system will be ready as early as next week!
    • Our outreach content plan is another critical part of our admissions process. We need to get the word out to our prospective students and parents. As a part of that we will also start on what our Avinya Academy website needs to contain to help our students navigate our unique admissions process.
    • More details to follow very, very soon!
  • Thinking about procurement and what we need for our school –  We are putting together a list of things like IT equipment, furniture, stationery, welcome kit components such as backpacks, uniforms to share with those who would like to contribute and then see what we need to procure ourselves. If you are interested in contributing please do reach out.
That’s more or less what we’ve been up to this week. Hence my dilemma at the start as there’s been so much activity! I’m always reminded of what a great team we are and how we keep pushing boundaries and finding innovative solutions 🙂
On that topic of innovation and learning – let me end by telling you about two interesting thing I learnt this week…
  • Ethical hacking (aka red team/ tiger team). Who knew right? Ok, so maybe this isn’t new to some of you IT whizzes. Every time someone said the word hacking to me I would have scary images pop up in my head and make a mental note to change my password. Yet, ethical hacking is actually a good thing!
  • The second thing, started off as an interesting debate on user experience vs. user interface. During which, Samisa tells me to google ‘Norman Doors’. As usual, I look at him confused but comply. First, I eliminate the fact that he’s talking about Jane vs John Doe. Then, I read up on Norman doors and realise that my terrible habit of walking into closed doors or constantly pushing when I need to pull and vice versa was never about me! Sorry door – it’s not me…it’s you! Want to know what I’m talking about? Check this out: https://uxdesign.cc/intro-to-ux-the-norman-door-61f8120b6086
Right, I really will stop but one last thing 🙂
Dee and I celebrated Teachers’ Day getting to do something we both absolutely love! We had the privilege of doing a workshop with a group of wonderful teachers down in Kalutara. We really enjoyed listening to their perspectives and understanding their work context and challenges. It was a great afternoon of learning and collaboration. It was so inspiring to hear their stories and listen to the impact they make in their students’ lives.
On that note, I shall sign off for the week 🙂 Fun times ahead!
Anyone for halapa?
– Anju