BENGALURU: Studying about the heritage sites can be a boring task for people especially students. But this changed in 2012 when Ajay Mohan Reddy challenged his seven friends on who can visit maximum number of heritage sites in the country in a year. The journey was blogged and put up on Tumblr and as it gained popularity, more people seemed keen on the task. The task was to go the heritage sites and capture a picture with the day’s newspaper.
This led Ajay to establish GoUNESCO, a social platform aimed to make heritage accessible and engaging. Over 10,000 participate every year from about 25 cities around the world, according to Ajay. They are expected to visit the sites in their country and gain points, those with the highest points at the end of the year wins. Ever since, participants as young as a four years old to 84 years old have been seen actively engaged on this platform.
Internship for students
Ajay launched a student internship programme in 2014 after he received a tweet from a student in Ahmedabad. The tweet read though the students are keen to participate, they do not have enough resources to do so. Out of hundred applicants each year, only 30 or 40 are selected for this six-month programme. They are given certain tasks to accomplish such as taking a selfie and learning about the local cuisine.
“This internship also becomes a networking platform for students all around the world,” says Ajay. However, he has realised that most student participation comes from Delhi and only one or two are from Bengaluru. He hopes to see more students participate from the city as there are also markets here, from Kempegowda’s time to explore. Since GoUNESCO is supported by UNESCO, New Delhi, a certificate is awarded to the students after the completion of the internship.
'We own heritage'
Government is the custodian of these sites but the actual owners are the people, believes Ajay, who quit engineering to pursue GoUNESCO and Go Heritage Runs. Go Heritage Run, a curated family run at heritage sites, is held once every month. The next one is scheduled for December 10 in Bidar, a city dating back to the third century BC. It will explore underground water canal system that makes the city water-sufficient even during the harshest of summers. A visit to the ancient Gurdwara in Bidar is also on the list. “I wasn’t a heritage person before initiating the project but after exploring the sites, I have realised how fun and scenic the experience really is,” explains Ajay. The application for the next internship programme for students starts next week.Visit GoUNESCO.com for more details.