Of Dictation and Dreams
July 13, 2017
It was my fifth class and that day I was to test their spellings. I work with three kids: Tanya who loves to write 3, Nikita who is very smart and quite aware of it and Sharwan, the brightest of the bunch. Sheets out, pencils drawn and it was time for dictation.
Boy, these kids are competitive! They were hiding their pages as if they were not spelling ‘Giraffe’ and ‘Hippopotamus’ but writing down the most secret of nuclear codes. On every right word, I could see their happiness. How simple it is to be happy! Just get a word right. And we had burned the midnight oil, slaving over JEE books.
Whenever someone got a word wrong, they tried even harder to get the next one right. One can only imagine how serious these kids are about their learning and competition. Oh, what wonders they would do if given the opportunity and guidance.
Once the marks were announced, Sharwan was calm even though he scored the highest. Nikita had always been on the heels of Sharwan and here she was again, crestfallen and nearly there. Tanya was a bit upset. That girl is bright but you always have to push her. In only a span of two hours, I got to see so many emotions. As a student, I was not aware of so many things that we go through. Yet, on the faces of these kids, we can see ourselves again.
Another anecdote is from the first time I worked with the older kids. I had imagined them to be unruly and rude and even harder to manage. Unfortunately, we are all humans and fall prey to our personal prejudices. However, those guys showed me how to be a bigger man. They talked about how some people are disrespectful to them just because they come from a specific section of the society. They talked about their will to learn and the foremost lesson that they had imbibed from life, “good things never come easy”. In their eyes, I saw a fierce will to learn and work for the good things. One of the boys talked about his dream of joining the army. One girl was excited about learning at a college where she won a dance competition. Ramjas was the name of the college.
Looking back, I really hope these kids learnt something with me because I definitely learnt how to be a better person from each and every one of them.
Now, I would urge you all to make some memories for yourself and learn something which you can learn only in a classroom with these kids. Join us as a teacher volunteer!
Saurabh K. Sharma, Summer Volunteer
A Year Has Passed
April 19, 2017
A year has passed but it seems like I met the kids only yesterday, when their smiles invited me to the room. There’s no denying that kids are always filled with the kind of energy that intrigues you and your eyes start to press you to smile a complacent grin.
I am familiar with every kid now and they recognise me. When I enter the class they ask me to be their teacher for the day. There seems to be a nexus among us as I know what they want to study and they know what might upset me. Their ebullient ‘good afternoon’ makes my day and a hi-five while bidding goodbye is what they love the most.
Now, if you think such kids are intellectually weak or uninterested in studies, you are in a nescient universe. They are bright, diligent and I confide in their capabilities. My weekly meetings with them made me learn that Ankit is a consummate sketcher, Tanya is a fashionista, Sudhir is a quick learner and Sharwan is an all-rounder. I know the academic areas they are weak in and I plan their course of study accordingly. Shivam is weak with spellings so I play hangman with him in which he has to guess the correct spelling. Ankit and Sharwan are weak with Hindi spellings. So, I get them to write the meaning of English words in Hindi.
As time passed by, I realised that the happiness is two-way. I was equally zestful to meet them as they were to meet me. If I had a bad day, they could make it better. I’d bring them gifts to express my happiness and my confidence in them. I still remember my birthday when I distributed chocolates to them and they quickly made me two birthday cards. Since they did not know how to spell ‘Happy Birthday’ they asked me to spell it and wrote it on the card, and I smiled as I realised how pure these souls are.
Everyone dreams. Monu wants to be a pilot. I did not want this career goal to be an irony in any way; a child from lower middle class, with meagre facilities but intense curiosity, dreams to fly and explore the cosmos of what all he could do from up there. While Monu dreams of flying planes, Tanya dreams of being an art teacher. But she’s afraid she has to submit to the norms of society and marry one day without accomplishing her dreams. Every child has the right to accomplish dreams. However, in a world of extreme inequalities, cultural rigidity and poverty; one becomes docile to one’s financial conditions and societal norms and gives up on the dreams. We, on the other hand, who are educated and well-off, take no steps to make a change in the society with the abilities we have. It is now time that we become sensitive to such issues; give our best to educate the masses and liberate the future of our nation from the shackles of stereotypes.
Sakshi Maurya, Operations Manager
A Fresh Perspective of Innocence
April 2, 2017
I have been teaching kids for The WordsWorth Project, for the past two months now. Making the decision to do this came about spontaneously one night when I stumbled upon a WhatsApp message talking about this initiative and I was hooked.
It’s been two months and so far in this experience of a mutual alliance where knowledge played the mediator. I learnt things from them about how Prince is an avid fan of Ajay Devgn and even wrote a letter to him when I asked the kids to write one to whoever they admire, and how Reema feels Chutki from the story book that we once read teaches us about independence and responsibilities.
The kids are fascinated by wisdom and to be contributing to that, to be helping them fill their brains with the constellations and the vastness of the universe while they sit there, jaw dropped, ruminating over the amount of things they don’t know about, but want to, simply makes my day.
There have been times when they were disinterested in reading the books, times when they just wanted to play a game and we did. I had never ever played the game ‘Mafia’ before in my life, but that changed soon and for the better!
Going to the Khan Market Centre each week, and playing with the kids and teaching these little humans provides a fresh perspective of innocence. I am more than glad that I took on this volunteer work, because had I not, I wouldn’t have met Reema and Prince, who are the sweetest little humans I’ve ever met.
Ankita Dhar Karmakar, Teacher Volunteer
December 18, 2016
In the month of July 2016, I came across a Facebook post saying that The Wordsworth
Project is looking for volunteers. At that time, I was not aware of what the project was all about. So, I read about it and something about it fascinated me. I quickly filled up their form and gladly waited for a phone call.
When the call came, I was pleased. I knew this would a positive step. But I had no professional experience of teaching or even handling kids. When the recruitment meeting took place, the team along with Varsha and Priyanka, shared their experiences and gave us ideas of how to go about the learning process for kids.
The first class was the most difficult one, but the most memorable one too. I was assigned three kids of fourth standard. When I sat with them to start the class, they seemed blank but were kind to me. I was afraid that making friends with them would be a problem, but it wasn’t! The kids are so disciplined and welcoming, it becomes impossible not to get attached to them.
Over the weeks, I used different techniques and ideas to teach them how to read and understand the basic words in English. I would play games with them, ask them riddles, draw for them to make them learn the words and what not. I learnt so much about myself, my patience, my strengths as a teacher and my weaknesses as well.
The best part about The WordsWorth Project is that it does not restrict its volunteers with guidelines or a syllabus. It gives us the platform to explore and improvise on our teaching skills. I never implied any rules or gave the kids any extra work. I let them be who they are and let them dwell into the environment. It took them time to get used to the language, but they never disrespected any part of the process.
The four hours a week became my escape from my own small problems and complaints. I used to look forward to spending time with the kids. And as I’m writing this article, I realise how much I miss the kids and their laughter. Thank you to The WordsWorth Project for giving me so much.
Ishita Lakra, Teacher Volunteer