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Pukhraj Ranjan, former Head of Community and Impact at HundrED shares five life lessons that she learned while growing and nurturing this global education community of education innovators and stakeholders.

1. Community is more than just membership, it is about belonging.

Right when we started, there was something unique about being surrounded by people who have a common mission – a desire to see every child flourish and to break the status quo where students who have been “left behind” have the opportunity to catch up, learn and excel.

Through the works of innovations like Design for Change, Roots of Empathy, Khan Academy, World’s Largest Lesson, Kollibri, and many more within the HundrED Community, I have learned that to truly touch the lives of thousands of students & teachers, one must not just have an easy membership policy, but more importantly solve a challenge faced by many members of a community, collectively.

Watching our Country Leads lead the HundrED communities in their respective regions has echoed this same belief as I have seen Enos Magaga use the innovations in his classrooms service Masai tribes of Kenya or watching Derek connect Australian and Finnish educators to find commonalities between our work despite the geographical distance.

2. The danger of a single story

I think it is safe to assume that everyone reading this knows who Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is. If you don’t first watch this.

My second lesson revolves around this idea of a single story. As a global connector, it has always been important for me to remind myself that NO educational challenge can be fixed in “one, single” way. The context, the environment, or available structures, the societal beliefs & norms, as well as training and pedagogical priorities make each challenge in a country or region unique. This doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from each other, but while nurturing a global community, as I have tried to do over the last few years, it is critical that we hear from those who are often unheard of and tell stories that are not often told.

Innovations like Girl Rising and Educate Girls inspire me through their campaigns toward girls’ education and empowerment. #ICANHELP and Slam Out Loud for putting youth aspiration and voice to the forefront. The Economist Educational Foundation for ensuring our children are skilled to critically understand and differentiate from real and fake news and not falling prey to the danger of a single story.

3. Holding opposing values in tension

“A modern moral revolution demands that all of us hold contradictions, even stark ones, within ourselves as well as between ourselves and others. For each of us, the first step is to reach across the wall of either-or and acknowledge the truths that exist in opposing perspectives.”

— Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz

Being part of a like-minded community doesn’t mean everyone agrees all the time. This is a lesson I have learned often the hard way. And I say “often” because I have made the same mistakes a few times! However, with those mistakes, I have learned that when opposed, I must focus my energy on being curious and identifying the truth in the other side’s argument. Because there is nothing like the ultimate truth.

In today’s world where opposing values are often not appreciated, we can not build and nurture a community if we don’t make a choice to open our hearts, take a step to find common ground with those whom we don’t agree with, and truly listen.

Innovations like Teaching Tolerance, Be Strong Online, inHive, Global Oneness Project, Remake Learning, and many more have inspired me to be empathetic, to have a conversation, to motivate and influence while holding the tension and being true to myself.

4. It is our moral responsibility to lead the way

Another lesson in this work has been the realization that change takes time. And community development isn’t a sprint but a marathon.

For me, community Leadership is the courage, creativity & capacity to create social change. One that inspires participation, development and long-term change for global communities.

Be it our Innovators, Ambassadors, Country Leads, or Youth Ambassadors, I have seen this leadership every day in the last few years. It has inspired me every day in this role and I am certain will continue to inspire me as I have seen the embodiment of such leadership in Sir Ken Robinson, Jacqueline Novogratz from Acumen, Vishal Talraja from Dream a Dream, Gregg Behr from Remake Learning & the Grable Foundation, Sonal Kapoor from Protsahan India Foundation, Vicky Colbert from Fundación Escuela Nueva, Mary Gordon from Roots of Empathy, and many more in our community.

5. Redefining the future of education, together.

If there is one thing I have learned from HundrED, it is this. Change is happening NOW and EVERYWHERE! The world is full of amazing, inspiring educators, innovators, and young people who are in small and big ways transforming what it means for each and every one of us to reach our true potential.

Some of the work happens outside the classroom, some in the four walls, and these days, some on the world wide web. This year I saw innovators step out of their offices to feed the families they support. I saw ambassadors come together and lead projects for young people stuck at home. I saw youth leaders speak up and ask for change, as we slowly start to talk about the “post-COVID” school.

Currently, Pukhraj is happily empowering the artisans of India through her Finnish-Indian lifestyle brand Moi Namaste.



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