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Jun 18, 2018

Update from Auroville Language Lab

Hi, all you wonderful people!
First, once again, on behalf of our entire team, a huge "Thank You" for your donation to our project. There were 104 donations, from all over the world, of all different sizes, small to big, and it all counted. Auroville Language Lab actually qualified to become a GlobalGiving partner (we met the goal of $5000 and 40 donors).
On Bonus Day, March 21st, we ranked 11th, with $4151 donations and 54 donors in a single day. We received $238 in Bonuses from GG.
We finished the March Accelerator with $7535 and 94 donors. And as of today, we've raised $7976 from 112 donations.
We even had to increase our goal several times.
It is all thanks to your participation and your incredible generosity. We are deeply grateful and moved!
Now, not only are we a GlobalGiving partner, but we also gained the status of "Effective Non-Profit" and are a "Top-Ranked Project". (Have a look at those three little icons next to our name on our page! (https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empowering-women-and-girls-in-auroville-and-bioregion/). We'll also receive a Social Media Mention on GlobalGiving. 
And, thanks to all those late-night webinars and climbing the learning curve using all of GlobalGiving's range of tools, we've also achieved "Superstar" status on the GG Rewards program. This has a host of benefits - have a look at the "Superstar Benefits" jpeg attached.
So you see, your donation didn't just help the project, it opened out a whole load of possibilities for the Lab!
GG also featured us as a "Success Story" in their Learn Section (https://www.globalgiving.org/learn/nonprofits/success-stories/) and also in their June Newsletter, which has gone to their entire worldwide mailing list.
In more good news, we found out that our applications to two regular funding agencies of Auroville - the Foundation for World Education, USA, and Stichting de Zaiier, Holland - which we submitted through the Auroville Project Coordination Group last October, way before GlobalGiving, were both accepted!
This has meant that we can fulfill two goals :
  1. The extended listening training in groups for English for women, as put up on GG, as well as general group programs in all languages, including Tamil. 6 headphones will be reserved for the women and girls groups.
  2. Implement an actual Tomatis classroom! (A group class with teacher and students all connected to the Tomatis machine).
This implies enormous possibilities opening up for us, and a paradigm shift for the Lab... a dream come true! It's quite exciting and scary even > we worked so hard so long towards this goal and now it is finally going to happen!!!!
These last few months have been an extended preparatory period. We did have to spend a lot of time waiting for the monies to actually come through. We needed to be sure about the exact order, to maximize the possibilities.
One thing though, we were so focused on the equipment, we foolishly forgot to include costs of transport and customs duty and taxes! Indian duties and taxes risk being 15% customs duty + 18% GST (Goods and Sales Tax). Or we pay VAT in Germany and then try to find people to bring the stuff over, but that isn't kosher. We need to do this in the proper way. The transport itself will be around 860+60=920 Euros. All costs that we didn't calculate earlier, so it's thrown our plans into a bit of a tizzy. We'll have to modify the order accordingly. We're hoping to finalize early this week. Mano and Raj have found a great site where we can buy the RME sound cards at a much cheaper rate but still under warranty, which will help. Back in 2004, when we first imported our first Tomatis machines, we paid 49% duty! Since our headphones are special, we might be able to find a clause under which they can be imported with less duty.
Businesses deal with this all the time, but for us, it's huge! However, we will find a way - we always do!
We hope to have everything here and launch in September. (Hopefully August, but let's say September to be safe).
Meanwhile, so much else has also happened. We started work on the wastewater treatment plant with a vortex, thanks to our friend Jean-Francois. Tapas's creativity has resulted, as usual, in something beautiful! It's in process... Hoping to add some solar panels on an EMI to our existing system to run the pumps. The idea is to re-use the water in the garden. 
It's been a busy summer for the Lab and Tomatis..... lots of new classes started and it was lovely to see the Lab full. We've had a lovely new person, Puja, join the team as well, and she will teach the women's English classes when the project will start. She's really happy to work in the Lab!  Students have been giving her lovely feedback. Our two French Civic Service volunteers, Remi and Romain, are winding up their time with us... in the last month now.... unfortunately, they will leave before the start of the GG Project! The Tamil classes were also quite a success, with Saravanan and Mano making audio recordings of the lessons and sharing them over WhatsApp with the students. Quite a few people using the mediatheque as well.
As for Tomatis, the whole summer's been busy with kids and adults - for both languages and the listening training. Wonderful feedback there as well. Our first case of a child with Down's Syndrome, a four-year-old kid from North India, and he has started walking up steps, which he couldn't do before... and expressing himself much more... Three other kids with developmental delays have also made remarkable progress... Breakthroughs as well for two of the teenagers with autism. And there's been quite deep work with adults as well. It's really humbling to assist in all these transformations... One day we have to document all of these properly.....
Meanwhile, the building remains as beautiful as ever, thanks to Tapas, and is distinctly cooler in the summer thanks to the lime... We actually have some dataloggers up around the building these days for a short study on the functioning of the lime done by Auroville architect Mona and her assistant Vishnu. We're hoping to be able to do one of the first external shafts of the cooling system, which we've decided to do only in lime, using granite instead of steel... We're planning to make a GlobalGiving microproject for that.... let's see! Many people have expressed how good they feel in our building... Do any "feel good" measures exist?
Foxy's fine and queening over everybody and everything, upstairs at Tomatis and downstairs at the Lab...
Please stay in touch, ask questions, give us your suggestions and your feedback! We want to hear from you!
And once again, a HUGE Thank You for your donation!
Love from Mita, 
For myself, Tapas and the team!
PS: Have a look, in case you haven't already :
It has received 950 views on LinkedIn!
--
Om Namo Bhagavate!
Mar 19, 2018

Preparing for the Project

Hey folks!

Just to let you know: Points of progress before we actually get the money.

1. Order: We've let our German headphone supplier friend know about this campaign so he can prepare. Each headphone is prepared by hand, by modifying the Beyer Dynamic headphones for the Tomatis work.  This takes time and special cable, and parts.  We couldn't ever buy six at a time due to cost.  So now he has advance notice.

2. Which Ones: We're going to be very careful about the order we place!  What do we do in a group situation if one person is hard of hearing?  We need special headphones with a different Ohms value for that (our previous experiments towards group listening sessions show this!).  Same price, but different specs.  Also going to take into account different head sizes to cover the age spectrum which will be part of the project!

3. The connectors: We've pre-ordered the Neutrik connector sets through an Indian website which offers the best rate for import of these precious items.  They have to come from the USA.  The local Indian Neutrik dealer can only do bulk (which we can't afford) and it's still expensive! This site is great.

4. Transport: Getting the headphones over to India from Germany > think we're going to approach the German Consul in Chennai through a contact and maybe we can get them through their Diplomatic bag, which will save postage.

5. Our brains are also whirring about:

- before and after documentation (written, verbal, and video interviews, and the Listening Test of course!).

- how to spread the message about the project within Auroville and around.

- the best time to start. Summer holidays is a good time!

- how to get the first two groups of women together.  To reach 12 per month, we have to do two slots of 6 each.  We'll do a girls group and an older group.  We already have students in the Lab who could be part of this.  We'll post pics - with their permission -  when we know the groups.  We'll post the Before videos, so all of you can evaluate the After  ones!

Please share any ideas you have, especially for the before and after documentation.

Let us know also what you'd like to see.

Who knows : maybe a paper can be written about this project which could be published in a refereed journal of Language Learning.... like the FLTMag, etc.  

We'll definitely put up the videos on Youtube.

Love.

Mita and Tapas

for the Auroville Language Lab Team

 
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