Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Power for Change is in Our Hands

A day in the life of a volunteer teacher in India...

A day in the life of a teacher? Well, here in India there really is no typical day. The place is always ‘buzzing’ with the relentless beeping of horns and the chitter-chatter of the locals (millions of them!) The noise never ceases. The sweating never stops and the big stupid smile that the children put on my face never seems to dwindle even after a tough day. Just thinking about them makes me beam from ear to ear.

Teaching 50 kids is no mean feat! I leave the house at 6:15 raring to go! I make the most of potential power naps on the 1 hour journey, not because I’m tired but because I know that there is no way at the age of 21 I can  sustain enough energy to ‘peel banana’ hundreds of times without them. The chat on the journey is little and often and the butterflies still decide to drop by every morning and accompany me on my way (regardless of what I’ve had for breakfast or for dinner the night before!) There inside me is the motivation to be a good teacher, the motivation to help the children to learn, regardless of what’s happening around us, the fast traffic, the cows on the roads, the monsoon rain or the literally sweltering heat. These all change but the smiles that meet you at the classroom door never do. They are flawless, unchangeable.

The children truly are amazing and to me, an inspiration. I really can’t put into words how much joy working with them brings. These children have so little but give so much. I have never received as many hugs or handshakes as I have in the last 5 weeks. They have taught me so much about myself, my values and the world that surrounds me. They have opened my eyes to what real poverty is. On the surface these children are educated at the same level as the ones at home. They have uniforms and they attend school. They have schoolbags and copy books. When you delve deeper into their lives you begin to see that the school they attend has no electricity, no fans, no books, no resources.

At this point, 5 weeks in, we as volunteers have almost become complacent with it. It has become ‘normal’. We have left our ’first world views’ behind. Is this right? Should we become used to it or take action to change it? I think that’s something that challenges a teaching volunteer: seeing the struggles that students face every day. These include the struggle to eat and drink fresh food and water, the struggle to stay awake in class because they have to work too, and most of all the struggle to compete in a world where, for so many, a high level of education is standard and readily available.

A day in the life of a teacher is one filled with mixed emotions. Happiness, a day filled with smiling, your own and the children’s. Dismay, worry that there is so far to go. Joy, knowing that even for 10 weeks you have the opportunity to have a positive influence on their experience of education. Joy in knowing that you have the potential to help them but also in knowing that spending time with them brings you so much joy.

Most of all, out of these emotions, there is hope. In these children there is so much hope. Hope for a brighter future where children are more empowered. Hope for a world where the resourcefulness of these students can be used to full capacity and hope that we as volunteers can bring home with us that joy and positivity that these children express so well.

The power for change is in our hands and as educators we are in an ideal position to bring about that change.

Post written by my wonderful girlfriend, who is currently volunteering in India. I love you so much! <3 xxx

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