We’ve got yet another special edition blog this week which I’m thrilled to share with you. We have a guest feature by none other than Dr. Tara de Mel who visited us this week and who is also a Member of the Avinya Foundation. The students were very happy to share their project work with her and were delighted when she adorned some of the project Runway work in progress outfits and they pulled out their final upcycled products from our first project Golden Rubbish 🙂
Dr. Tara’s note
On Wednesday March 1st, 2023 at about 10.15 I began my journey to the Avinya Academy, which was located in Bandaragama. The journey was pleasant, and even though Google maps let us down at the end, Dee was able to swiftly reroute me, so that I arrived at the Academy within 60 minutes of leaving Colombo. At first glance the campus was breathtaking. The creative structure of the classrooms as ‘Pods’ , placed alongside the calming waters of the still pond, was soothing in every sense. It was a treat for the eyes.
The classes were in session, and the students were preparing for their second Project – just 3 weeks after starting the Course. ‘Runway’ will probably be the first fashion show conducted in the heart of Bandaragama, created by the first batch of Avinya students.
It was delightful to chat with them, watch how they were preparing their outfits, some were stitching them, some were modeling them, and some were practicing walking on the ramp made from railway sleepers!
It was so encouraging to hear them trying to converse in English, whilst blending into Sinhala on and off. Needless to say, their talents and creativity were amazing: In their previous project “Golden Rubbish” they had crafted waste bins from plastic bottles, pen holders from coconut shells and upcycled different materials to produce the most innovative and interesting stuff. I was gifted with what I most needed at home – a salt dispenser made from coconut shells!
The Avinya Academy is a unique creation where academic rigor is blended with fun. Where 16-19 year olds are mixing with each other like they’d probably never do in a traditional education institution. Where they enjoy learning, interacting and creating, with no stressful examination round the corner. The three-week old students’ enthusiasm taught me volumes.
I bet the facility is a treat to learn in. It’s modern, spacious and very well ventilated. At 12.00 noon I didn’t feel the heat except in one location- although I was told I would. I bet the monsoon period will be challenging since the wind and rain will beat into the classes, making it uncomfortable to learn in.
Finally I suggested to Dee and Anju, that if I was a student, I’d probably wait until evening when the sun sets, and sit in front of the pond, reflect and meditate, or try some yoga to wind down the day.
To Sanjiva, Anju, Dee and the wonderful educators at Avinya – a big bouquet
Many thanks Dr. Tara for your very kind words and we were so happy to have you join us and talk to our team of Educators who have been working so hard over the last few weeks.
Now over to Isuru who will tell us more about what the students have been up to this week…
Hey awesome people! Welcome to our weekly blog again!
This is Isuru writing on behalf of the Avinya Educators, because our energy ball Sinalie is feeling a bit under the weather. Let’s wish her a speedy recovery.
The boosted kick off
This week started off with great fun and enthusiasm both among the teachers and the students. Our students received their Avinya phones last week and they are now using these devices to do their own research work! It’s amazing to see how advanced this generation is, especially in terms of adapting to new technology and using it. A considerable proportion of our students have not had a smartphone before, and the large majority has not had a phone to call their own. They quickly mastered the art of the smartphone. Now that they have the resources, the sky’s the limit. Also, they got their own personal lockers and combination padlocks. It was fun to see them trying to work on their passwords to open the locks because even we, the educators, took some time to figure out how to do it. We almost had a brain block trying to unlock our padlocks.
It’s Avinya Style!
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” —Rachel Zoe
Who doesn’t like to look good? Our fashion designers and models at Avinya are working on some mind blowing designs that will be presented as the final product of Project Runway. The materials our designers use are old clothes, and they are working on creative ways to upcycle them into something fashionable and reusable. As you may already know, Avinya means innovation in Sanskrit and we are sure that our students will come up with quite innovative designs with the upcycled clothes and accessories. The Educators are facilitating and accommodating all their creative ideas, and at the same time, are guiding them to understand the importance of wearing the right clothes to the right occasion, which we believe to be useful when it comes to social skills.
Our beloved students are bonding well with each other now. The classroom activities and the house competitions have developed trust and collaboration among themselves. They started signing up for after-school stays (library time, garden sports time and indoor sports etc.) under supervision. Education is not mere Shastra, as Lakshman has also pointed out in a previous post. The development of Shilpa is a process, and extra curricular work and sports are instrumental in this skills building exercise.
Isuru Signing off with a hope to get back to you in future with more and more stories of our Avinya journey!