Chhattisgarh, I am ready for you!

Tomorrow, I leave for my field visit in Chhattisgarh. The past few weeks have been all about preparing for this field visit. But, of course, before I talk about work, let me talk about my experiences outside of work.

Two weeks ago, my workmates brought me to Akshardham temple (do a quick Google search of the temple!). It is a huge Hindu temple, which is an hour drive away from our office. One of my workmates generously drove us to the temple. Cellphones were not allowed inside, so I was not able to take pictures.

Here’s a photo of the temple from a distance. Sadly, this photo does not give justice to the beauty of the temple.

After visiting the temple, I just realized that I am not used to seeing a lot of temples. Since I come from a region in the Philippines where it’s dominantly Catholic, we have a lot of churches, but not a lot of temples. I was just in awe the entire time we were in the temple. The intricate detail from the floor to the ceiling just blows my mind and how I wish I could bring all my friends there. My workmates told me that there are bigger temples in the southern region of India that I have to visit. How I wish I could easily do that!

Of course, food is always something I like to talk about. Last week, my workmate gave me a slice of a mango from Uttarakhand. The mango is so tiny and it’s even smaller than my palm! Size can be deceiving, but this mango was really sweet! Because I keep on eating mangoes (I’d say an average of four mangoes a day HAHA!), I feel like my blood sugar is increasing. ISOS will not be happy about this. Haha!

Hello, tiny mango from Uttarakhand.

After a long and tiring work week, I make it to a point to reward myself by relaxing and eating good food. I went to a restaurant where they serve grilled food! The food was a bit expensive but I think it was worth it. They had grilled chicken, shrimp, mutton, vegetables, kulfi, etc. I was not able to take a photo of the other food items because I was too busy enjoying my food.

Last weekend, I also went to Red Fort, the historic residence of the emperors of the Mughal Empire. I made sure to capture some nice photos (thanks to my selfie stick I got from Amazon). I also wore my kurta. Haha! I didn’t get to enter the Red Fort because the stingy person in me didn’t want to spend $10.

Ok. Time to talk about work. But before that, here’s a photo of me posing beside the Room to Read India Country Office sign.

Like what I mentioned, I leave for my field visit tomorrow. I’ll be traveling with a workmate who has been kind and generous with his time to answer my questions and extinguish my nervousness. The objectives of my field visit are the following:

  1. to pilot three instruments I have developed
  2. to observe the implementation of Room to Read’s Literacy Program and Girls’ Education Program
  3. to interview RtR staff and partner school staff
  4. to go see what Chhattisgarh has to offer (this is a personal objective. Haha!)

For the past few weeks, I have been developing and improving on some tools that the research, monitoring, and evaluation staff have been using. The first one is a tool that captures background variables that are possibly affecting the literacy rates of students. Since I’m not at liberty to disclose the nitty-gritty details of what I have been developing, allow me to give you an idea of how this work is relevant to their programming.

Monitoring and Evaluation 101 with Ian Gee (While the conversation about causation is complex, here’s my attempt to give justice to what I have learned in my classes):

  1. In an impact evaluation, it is crucial for multiple stakeholders that the intervention has a causal relationship with the observed outcome. In other words, the intervention should have caused the increase in reading skills.
  2. Since there are multiple factors that affect reading skills, it is important to control for the other factors that affect reading skills aside from the implementation of the intervention. By doing this, an organization can claim that their intervention has caused the observed desirable outcomes.
  3. It is not possible to have an exhaustive list of all the factors that affect reading skills, but it is possible to do an exhaustive literature review about the factors that affect reading skills.

So the tool that I have worked on captures background variables that will eventually be controlled in the regression equation to compute for the marginal effect of the implementation of the program.

The second tool that I will be piloting is the teacher observation tool. This tool is a classroom observation tool that is meant to improve the pedagogy of literacy teachers. This is tied to the other tool I improved on, which was the pedagogical content knowledge assessment tool for literacy teachers. Since RtR provides professional development for literacy teachers, it is important to measure and determine how much the teachers have learned and if they are implementing what they have learned inside the literacy classroom.

The classroom observation tool and pedagogical content knowledge assessment tool was a bit challenging for me since I haven’t really undergone the professional development sessions that they provide. I relied on documents and information that was provided to me by my colleagues. It was also interesting because it brought me back to my teaching days and developing the pedagogical content knowledge assessment tool was like creating an exam for my students. I had fun, but at the same time, it was challenging.

Anyway, time to pack for my trip tomorrow! If there’s anything you want to know or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments section!


I got a haircut after going to the Red Fort!

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