As students of the 8th assembled at the Dream School Foundation, R.T.Nagar Centre, the atmosphere was ripe with excitement. Gathered at least 15 minutes ahead of the time mentioned and dressed in their brightest and best,this out-of-textbook learning experience was one lesson that would stay etched forever.As we drove past the entry gate at Manyata Tech Park, peering out of our tempo traveler, our eyes scanned the multitude of glass buildings in amazement that adorned this business park. On reaching Target’s main office and entering the plush building, the students gathered in a massive meeting room that looked straight out of a movie-set.
The interaction began with Mr.Paresh, Delivery Manager at Target Corporation India, addressing the gathering and extending a warm welcome to his shy guests--but such inhibitions of shyness and coy were very short lived. A quick round of introductions by the students and volunteers,all dressed in their customary red and khaki was more than sufficient to get everybody to behave like they’d known each other for years. A brief video about Target’s work and vision showed us, with sufficient reason, why they are leaders in their work and social responsibility. From introductions to more important business- a sumptuous meal awaited us at office cafeteria that was lapped up by students and staff alike. The buffet service saw us help ourselves to generous mounds of delicious rotis, rice, curry and a whole lot of other items.
Energized and ready to go, the recreation room was our next destination. Target employees who were peacefully engaged in a game of table tennis or carom were politely asked to step aside, as students of DSF gleefully entertained themselves to these indoor games. In one corner, lay a drum set where Mr.Murali Bhatt entertained the students with a beat or two. To the surprise of many, Manoj, took to the drums and gave us a perfect rendition of some popular drum beat numbers. Divided into five groups, each team was led by two volunteers from Target, who took us on a tour of the 4th floor, which was home to those friendly faces like Shahbaz Sir and Saravanan Sir, that came each week and took various classes for students at the DSF, R.T.Nagar Centre. Explaining each matter in detail, students were told about an employee’s functions, the facilities that were essential in their operations, such as telephones, laptops, wi-fi etc. A quick visit to Room 403 and suddenly we were privy to a live video conference! At the other end of the call were Mr.Paresh and some of the students from another group. Rather different from other business conference calls, matters discussed included Antaakshari, which group was superior and most importantly, one of our students, in a professional tone, questioning Mr.Paresh on how his projects were shaping up-- a small role play!
Returning to the recreation room, this time with a different agenda, groups sat together and were engaged in a thrilling quiz. As reward for the right answer, chocolates were distributed. A quick count showed that though only about 15 questions were asked, there were at least 60 chocolates in possession-- a telling sign of the giving nature of Target’s employees. The next team building game was ‘Make the Mummy’, where groups of eight, along with their team leaders were to drape one student in newspaper and replicate a mummy in the shortest time. At the end of the event, some mummy’s didn’t quite turn out as they were expected to be--some resembled a robot, others a rock star. At the end of the event there was indeed a moral--working as a team is essential in achieving success.
As the day’s events came to a close, and it was time to bid adieu, students had their special messages penned on cardboard sheets, to be framed and that will go up on the walls of Target for posterity. As part of another generous gesture by Target, they handed us bright red school bags to take home as a souvenir.
On our return journey, the mood was sober. Not because students were tired or exhausted, but for them, this meant the end of an experience of a lifetime. As I randomly asked who would like to work in Target? The answer was evident-- they didn’t raise just one hand, but both hands shot up, symbolizing how much an experience like this had influenced their thoughts positively.
Rizwana says it was a day she’ll never forget. “I have never experienced anything like this before, so this is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I cannot wait to meet with all of them at Target and re-live this entire happy memory”
Rahul who impressed everybody with his dance moves and hand stands has a standing ovation to offer to everybody at Target. “From Kavya Didi and every other friendly volunteer, and each moment at Target, to me was joyful.” He also added, “next year too, we’ll go to Target only. Why go anywhere else?”
In conclusion, as we sum up this day, just like Target’s logo, this day sure did strike the bull’s eye of each child’s heart.
-- Karun Gopinath