On my first visit I was introduced to both schools, and began my work with the Disha School, teaching English to the kids. I was slightly apprehensive as to how my first day would go, but starting from the moment I walked into the classroom, greeted by around twenty grinning faces shouting ‘Goodmorning Didi!’ and ‘Namaste!’ I thoroughly enjoyed myself. As I got to know each child, their distinct personalities set them apart, and a few stood out the first day as being especially bold. When I arrived they were learnin
g how to spell vegetable names in English that day, and I started by helping two cute little girls memorize their vegetable spellings from potato to radish. I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly they picked up the information and was even more impressed when the teacher shared one of her student’s notebooks with me. Simple words written again and again both in Hindi and English, then sentences, days of the week, seasons, months of the year, colors, shapes, vegetables, fruits, body parts, counting, mathematics – the children were all familiar with these subjects in English.
In the following days I looked forward to my daily visits, and taught the children simple English phrases like “What is your name?” “My name is _____” and “How are you?” along with body parts, shapes, clothing items and songs and games. As I continued to come, the kids became less shy with me. Soon I had learned most of their names, although some kids would disappear and new ones would show up on a day to day basis. Out of the regular students, several always showed a desire to learn more, to go the extra mile and copy what I had written on the board, though it was not mandatory. They displayed a will to learn, asking me to teach more, and always practicing new material on their own without my prompting. The students were all very bright and I hoped that someone would recognize their potential soon and put them in the public school system, as the other volunteers had told me was possible.
For all their work I wanted to bring them a treat, so one day I brought them all packets of biscuits, along with other more academic materials like flashcards. The packets of biscuits made them very happy, and it really struck me how little it took to put a smile on their faces. Most children I meet seem to need the latest toys, gadgets, movies and music at their fingertips, but in the village I visited I met a set of students who come to school by choice and make an effort to learn, using education as an escape to a brighter future