A break from studying with Octoberfest
At Openhouse, whenever we think of doing something for our students, we draw a lot of inspiration from our own learning experiences.
When we were students, we would have loved for someone to tell us what a career as a psychologist would be like or how to go about college admissions. And we wanted someone to teach us real life skills like how to do taxes (it’s a real struggle). Some of us wanted to debate in school, but never got the chance to participate in extracurricular activities. We loved practical classes in school, and we wanted more of them.
Octoberfest was all those things and more. There were career days, masterclasses, di.why (not) sessions and competitions by Openhouse clubs. After a stressful exam season and a rather absurd year, it was a much needed break for our students.
We kicked it off with career days to give students a sneak peek into the working world and how to work towards the career they want. There were six sessions for law, psychology, development sector, design, tech and cuisine.
In A Career in Design, Srishti Sehgal spoke about her journey to design and opened the floor for questions where students asked about college admissions and how to build a portfolio. Aarthi Seshadri hosted the session on cuisine and spoke about the application process and advised students to consider the decline of jobs in hospitality because of the pandemic.
We held masterclasses on financial health, sex education, personal branding, starting your own business and the a to z of publishing your own book. Students thronged to Madhav Mittal’s masterclass on starting your own business and asked the most insightful questions. Why can’t Reliance be called a startup? Can a startup be bootstrapped?
“The finance masterclass was wonderful. They spoke about managing your money, how to save, what is the interest a bank gives you, what are fixed deposits, mutual funds. Schools don’t teach this, and I think they should. This is very handy stuff.”
Shubh Agarwal, a student from Ahmedabad
And then there was the masterclass on sex education, where Karishma Swarup spoke about sex, without the stigma attached to it. Sensitive things like coming out to one’s parents and getting birth control were discussed (and without the giggling and snickering). This kind of life skill education is missing in school curriculums and we wanted to fill the gap.
For students at Openhouse clubs, Octoberfest was the first time in a long time when they could say they were participating in extracurricular activities. The Dance Club’s Dance Battle was almost a mini reality show where 15 students performed for an audience of their friends and parents. The debate competition saw 110 people registering in 15 teams. There were students who participated all the way from London and Dubai.
The Entrepreneurship Club held a marketing challenge and a pitch fest in which students submitted their pitches for a business. Dhiksha, who was one of the winners of the pitch fest, came up with an idea to take offline shops online to improve their business.
Punit and Abhay, who were the other winning team, came up with an idea for packaging material made with the sholapith plant. “The best thing about virtual communities is that you can interact with students across cities,” said Abhay. Abhay lives in Bangalore and Punit is from Kolkata. They are now starting a tribe with the Entrepreneurship Club.
We sent four experiments to Openhouse students and conducted the experiment virtually. By building their own projector or through painting with chemistry, students understood the real world application of concepts they had learnt in the classroom. We wanted to make online education fun and going by the positive response from students, we know we succeeded.
With such a packed month and so much to do, Octoberfest dragged into November too, but our students aren’t complaining!