IEDP student uses international internship to evaluate data and the meaning of home

July 24, 2019
Portrait of Ian Ganhinhin in the Room to Read office, leaning against a desk.

Ian Ganhinhin, an International Educational Development Program student, is spending his summer using his monitoring and evaluation skills as an intern for Room to Read’s New Delhi office.

As an established process, Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) may seem a bit dry. When put into practice, however, it can make a tremendous impact, by improving performance and achieving results. Penn GSE student Ian Ganhinhin is using his M&E expertise this summer as an intern at Room to Read in New Delhi, India, where he hopes to make a difference in the lives of children. 

Room to Read is the only organization in India that offers early-grade literacy education and girls’ education programs. To support the organization’s efforts, Ganhinhin is working on program M&E data evaluation and communication, along with developing assessment tools in the New Delhi office that he will test during a field visit to Chhattisgarh, an hour and a half flight to the south, later this summer.

Ian Ganhinhin

Hometown: Quezon City, Philippines

Age: 29 years old 

Program: International Educational Development Program

Internship: Room to Read, New Delhi, India

“I’ll create an M&E database using the monitoring data from all 10 countries where Room to Read exists, and then generate a comparative analysis based on that information,” he explains.

An internship abroad is a hallmark of Penn GSE’s International Educational Development Program, which prepares students for the realities of working around the globe in the field of education and development. IEDP students also intern with organizations including UNESCO, UNICEF, and Geneva Global. 

“All of the courses that I’ve taken at Penn GSE have been useful—I’m not exaggerating,” said Ganhinhin. “My professors have prepared me for this internship, and also for life after graduation.” 

A warm welcome

While Ganhinhin’s work is familiar to him, he has found himself in an environment that poses challenges. It’s hot in New Delhi. The dry heat has reached temperatures of an uncomfortable 107 degrees since he first arrived in May. And while Ganhinhin isn’t sweating the data—becoming more comfortable with the nuances and challenges at Room to Read—he’s finding his evaluation habits creeping into the rest of his experiences abroad.  

“Traveling forces me to evaluate who I am.”  

With plenty of alone time, Ganhinhin is learning how to navigate the sweltering, aromatic city, taking an auto rickshaw and then the metro (20 rupees, about 30 cents) to work each day. New Delhi has over 21 million inhabitants, many of whom speak Hindi—the official language, and the Penn intern has found technology to be a huge asset for everything from translating (Google) to finding a home (Airbnb) to food (Uber Eats).

“I can even get a haircut at home just by using an app.” 

As a self-described extrovert, he says finding new friends in an unfamiliar place has been challenging, but his colleagues at work have been warm and helpful. 

“I’m the only intern in my office, but my workmates have been amazing. I’ve already been invited to four of their homes for a meal, and they’ve shown me around town.”

A few things have been surprisingly familiar for Ganhinhin. There have been some comforting cultural similarities between India and his home in the Philippines. Instead of roosters waking him each morning like in Quezon City, it’s the screaming peacocks of New Delhi. The hospitality from people he’s only just met also feels like home. 

“The Indians have a saying, Atithi Devo Bhava, which means they treat guests like god. I really feel that.” 

New experiences

Despite all of the excitement, Ganhinhin still misses his friends at home and in Philadelphia. But like any intrepid traveler, he seems to relish placing himself in uncomfortable situations for the worthy reward of gaining unique experiences or new connections. 

As passionate about education as Ganhinhin is, there’s another area of Indian culture he’s been keen to devour—food. Many Indians follow a vegetarian diet, and Ganhinhin realized at the end of a stretch of five days that he had inadvertently gone veggie. Since then, he’s been enjoying regional specialties, like mango kulfi, the summer mango season frozen treat that’s made with condensed milk.

“It’s better than ice cream.” 

Ganhinhin has also become fond of pav bhaji, a vegetable curry with butter, served with bread...and more butter. But his palette isn’t the only thing that’s changing. The definition of home is evolving for Ganhinhin, partially due to this trip. He now considers both the Philippines and Philadelphia home. When he’s back at Penn, the IEDP candidate is fully immersed in the rhythm of studying and working as a full-time student, a graduate assistant, and a teaching and research assistant. While in India, he’s had a chance to reorient himself. At Room to Read, work ends promptly at 5:30 p.m., leaving sufficient time for exploring.   

And there’s still plenty he plans to see—temples to visit, flowers to smell, new people to meet, and Khari Baoli, Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, to wander through. As for his future after finishing classes at Penn this fall, Ganhinhin doesn’t hesitate.  

“I’d like to work in M&E at an international NGO, perhaps near the Philippines.” 

For more on Penn GSE’s Ian Ganhinhin and his adventures in India, checkout his vlog, “There’s No India Without Ian.” 


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