“The green gate, five blocks away from USEF.” This was the first instruction I received to find my way to Karkhana for a web page design workshop organized by #MakerKT. With full enthusiasm, I attended the workshop and made new friends. Karkhana had its own charisma, although I was not directly involved.
After participating in two #MakerKT workshops, Sachet dai, Chief Operating Officer at Karkhana, asked me if I wanted to volunteer for an event. Frustrated by the pressure of entrance exams, I needed a break and the prospect of getting involved in an actual workplace seemed exciting. So, I agreed.
The next day I went to Karkhana and met their team of tinkerers, makers and enthusiasts: some laughing at a viral Youtube video, some counting pencils in a pack, some cutting precise shapes on the laser cutter and some working on an upcoming event. As a shy newcomer who takes some time to open up, I met two interns- Sona and Sagun (who are my partners in crime now). And of the many things I’ve gained from Karkhana, I’ve learned the most by observing the two of them. Their encouragement has helped me become an independent leader.
My first day at Karkhana was long. I still have a clear memory of how Dipesh dai asked me about what my interests were. And Sunoj dai asked me to make an outline of a robot in Inkscape, a graphics design software. I loved the task because it rekindled my long lost interest in design.
After that, I spent two straight hours using a saw to cut wood. I had never used a saw before but I’m glad to have used it that day. Who knew that it would be a part of my memory of the first day at Karkhana.
I had heard Karkhana was an education company that taught not just theoretical stuff but rather facilitated practical activities. And honestly, back then my first thought on teaching was a complete nightmare. I had always viewed teaching as a hectic job. But at Karkhana, it was different. Not only did the educators have fun doing their work, they also learned new things each day.
Eventually, I found out that it wasn’t only a place for teaching but so much more: running events, carrying out experiments or working on cool DIY stuff. In my early days at Karkhana, I helped run events. There were Design Challenges that I facilitated in four schools and a mall. A Design Challenge comprises of a hands-on activity where students are given reusable materials to design a product like making a wooden car or the tallest paper tower. After each event, the team discussed about what worked well and what could be improved in the event.
After running various events, I went as a support teacher for Bee Creative classes run by Karkhana. These classes let students learn by experimenting, exploring and making mistakes encourage kids to express their creativity. The classes I observed, the students that I learned from, the creativity that I witnessed, all of these experiences added the cherry on the cake and helped me in my transition from an intern to a Maker Mentor.
From an event volunteer to a Maker Mentor running events at different schools, my journey has been tremendous. Days when I tinkered around the makerspace: making frames, cards and paper cars, the lunch hours of togetherness, the late evening karaoke sessions, EVERYTHING! Karkhana brought out the best in me.
Infact, singing was something I did only for myself or my mom. I was scared of being judged. But here at Karkhana, I found my space. A place where if I just hummed a few lines, the whole team would sing along. The mini concerts at Karkhana got me singing way too much. I started singing everywhere, even outside Karkhana. I felt good, and this was all that mattered.
Be it doodling on a whiteboard or handling an entire event on my own, Karkhana gave me a freedom of choice. I had my choice to run an event my own way, being calm and composed. I was free to utilize my time learning new things. I was given the choice of saying “no” to any work that I didn’t feel like doing. My ideas and feedback were not only heard but taken into consideration. And the feeling of satisfaction one gets while seeing things work out perfectly, is priceless.
The events I ran, the classes I took as a Maker Mentor, all of these have helped me grow as a person. I’ve learnt to lead, to inspire and to open up to people. Earlier, I could never speak up in front of a crowd. Neither could I put my thoughts into words in front of a large mass. There used to be a tsunami of emotions and thoughts in my mind that could never make its way out of the chaotic storm. But here, I was made to believe that my actions could move mountains even without speaking a lot.
My four months at Karkhana have been the most amazing, engaging and refreshing time for me. And unlike typical job holders, I never rushed home early during my work days because Karkhana was my home. As for now, being a Computer Engineering student, I can’t make it to Karkhana every day like I used to. But, I drop by at Karkhana time and again to see my Karkhana family, same as they were on my first day at the office. I see them laughing, experimenting, teaching, learning and changing the lives of people like me. My description to anyone about Karkhana is always this-
I am cool.
My workmates are cooler.
And my workplace is the coolest.
And even today, when someone asks me how I spent my holidays, I never hesitate to say, “As an Intern at Karkhana and Proud!”
Karkhana still has its own charisma. The green gate is still open for me. And it is not something I would want to close either. Come join me as a Maker Mentor. 🙂