Auspicious Project Planning

By: Ilana Shushansky

As February turns into March, the VOICE team finds ourselves about one month into the planning for Camp VOICE.  Had we followed Nike’s original timeline of piloting this project in the summer of 2012, being only one month into the planning stages would make sense.  Rather, we are one month in and have only two more months to spare.  It’s a good thing our three woman team is fresh out of college, where doing things on a reasonable and logical timeline is never common practice.  It is also a good thing that we are not biting off more then we can chew.  It is not as if we are attempting to reach almost 500 girls the first summer, run 11 camps simultaneously, create an original curriculum, develop a model for giving tuition scholarships, train 33 staff members, take each girl on at least 2 field trips, bring in community guest speakers, secure PE coaches for evening sports sessions, create a way to integrate families into the weekly schedule, develop an educational and social-networking web-portal, put on a camp graduation ceremony, and connect each girl to at least one female mentor by the end of the summer.  On second thought, it seems as if I was just referencing our combined to-do list for the next few months, not our “shelved ideas for next summer” list (which is equally as full with improvement and expansion ideas already).  And to most people it may seem like we are doing just that, biting off more then we can chew.  Even I admit I got a little overwhelmed just writing out that list.  But we have two advantages; you could even call them head starts, which make me know that we will not fall short of any of our goals:

The first is our experiences in India that brought us to this project.  We have spent the past seven months working in the same schools where camps will be held come May 9th. We have sat in the offices of the owners of these schools, pushing their ideals and learning to harness our own.  We know all of the teachers we are training.  We have observed at length, played cricket, and practiced for spelling bees and cultural performances with the girls who will be our campers.  Through all of this, most importantly, we have built the trust of all of the individuals whose help we need to make it through our to-do list.  It is this trust that has made every stakeholder so eager and willing to help already.

The second is the strength, diversity, and chemistry of our team.  I am not sure how we got so lucky, the innate auspicious nature of India perhaps, but I could not have dreamed up a better group of people to work with on a project like this.  Allie, Averil, and I have lived and worked together on various projects throughout the year, but this opportunity has enabled each of us to put our best foot forward while all contributing equally to the overall result.  Dividing up tasks and responsibilities is almost an intuitive process, and I know I can rely on them to always follow through.

My friends and family can vouch that while undertaking similarly daunting tasks in the past, I often stop and wonder how everything was possibly going to get done.  The floor of the Emory University library has even had to serve as my ‘shoulder to cry on’ in the past, while in pre-event crisis mode.  But while the to-do list is long and the calendar months are…far from long…I have full confidence this time around that with the ability of our team and the support from of our networks, everything we set out to do will be accomplished in fine form.

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