Subject: Volunteer summary
From: "Andrew Foster"
Date: Mon, November 30, 2009 4:58 am
I know we haven't quite left yet, but we just want to say thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality and that of your staff at the guesthouse. We have had an excellent time and our experiences at the school volunteering have been truly memorable. Hopefully the info below and attached in word format will be of use. Also, lots of pictures copied to the computer in the office
Thanks Andrew and Charlotte
Andrew Foster :
Volunteering at the school was an excellent experience. I have never taught before and, although it was a little daunting at first teaching a class of nine to 13 year olds, I quickly got the hang of it. I taught for just under three weeks in total and was made to feel very welcome in the school throughout. I was introduced to the children on the first day and was welcomed with garlands and sweets. The next day it was time to teach, but I was given plenty of help and guidance on teaching subjects by Pratik, who also sat in on the class with me, providing translation where necessary.
During my time volunteering I spent most of it painting in the classroom, where I copied country maps on to the walls and painted them, including taking the bold step of painting India proudly above one of the blackboards! I also painted a mountain and volcano scene as I am a keen geographer, along with colourful numbers, alphabet and patterns around the blackboards. I finished with a scene depicting various animals we have seen in India as well as village life. The children would often come in after morning lessons and tell me my painting was “beautiful”; I hope they meant it! They certainly enjoyed reading out the English words that accompanied the paintings and also telling me proudly the different colours I had used which they had learnt from Charlotte.
At the end of each morning, there was always time to play with the children before we headed back to the guesthouse. The first few days we played some fun new games with all of the children, then after about a week, the boys were keen to play cricket with me. This was great fun and a good way for us to talk in English together to help them learn as well as for me to be taught some Hindi. Games were always very competitive and the only thing I lacked was enough local language to be able to diffuse tense situations if there was not another teacher around.
I also spent several days helping construct a small garden for the school which the children can take pride in caring for and enjoying in the future. One morning I cleared the whole garden of litter, which ranged from drink cartons to crisp packets and tobacco packets. I got the impression that this was found to be quite amusing as the children and in fact most people in India, do not seem to see litter as a big problem and will just drop packets or throw them out of sight. I think it would be valuable for future generations of India to understand how to be more careful with rubbish and the impact it can have on the environment; perhaps this is something which can be taught at the school? I understand it is a larger problem, but a little difference and change in attitude can go a long way.
During my time on the volunteering project I was made to feel very welcome, not just by the school and the local community, but also at the Mandore Guesthouse where we stayed. My wife and I were treated as part of the family and therefore we were quickly able to relax and enjoy our time here. There was never any pressure placed on us and it was always easy to turn to someone to ask for advice or an extra pancake at breakfast!