Over one year ago, I realized I passed the same group of boys sitting on the stoop of an electronics shop. Every day. Sometimes they’d be smoking, most of the time they’d be watching life pass by. Do they go to school? What are they doing? I hate seeing unused talent.
I had been living and working in the Kaski community for some time and decided to talk to respected leaders. They all agreed: young adults didn’t really have a place to "hang out." Pool halls and restaurants were pricey, and the educational facilities that existed weren't places a hip teen might want to spend time. I visited these places, I taught in a few educational consultancies; even I found the dank classrooms uninspiring.
Thus, the Learning House concept was born. We searched to find an ideal location, signed a 5-year agreement, and set about creating an environment that was welcoming and lively. Over 122 generous friends near and far backed us, Pollination Project awarded our very first grant, and we were off! Nights spent scrubbing floors, days running around purchasing chairs and tables, overseeing local construction of sofas and bookcases; in these days I learned the true meaning of "hustle." It was an intense push, but by February 2015, we were hosting classes and events, introducing mothers to their first English words and helping students prepare for ESL tests. Then the earthquake hit, and we did what we could to help those who were hurting.
We held our Grand Opening event in May, and with friends and family, guests from abroad and local community members, we heartily and officially welcomed what was once an idea. I will always remember cutting the symbolic red ribbon and reflecting upon the hard work and, yes, blood-sweat-tears that made this idea come true.
But I knew it was only the beginning.
Less than one year later, Learning House boasts classes and free seminars, a community lounge with books and study resources, snacks, coffee and highly popular Live Music/Open Mic nights. Our staff has advised over 87 students on education and career options, and over 321 participants have benefitted from our weekly events. These workshops have introduced various leaders --- business owners, academics, entrepreneurs, hoteliers --- to students, sharing skills necessary for entrepreneurship and management: communication, problem solving, character building, goal-setting, public speaking and business fundamentals.
A recent photo reminded me of the moment Learning House came to be.
Thoughts really DO become things.
Pay attention to the places your mind wanders; it could lead you someplace surprisingly delightful.