My Volunteering Experience at a Government School

Medha Bhattacharya, a student of Indus International School studying in Class 12 volunteered at the GKMPS Munichinappa Adugodi School. This is what she had to say about her experience!

I remember the first day I went to the school for (volunteering) very clearly because I had been incredibly sick the night before and just about staggered into the Headmistress’s office. Unfortunately I was entirely unable to understand anything that was being said because my knowledge of Kannada is rudimentary at best and non-existent at worst. But by the end of the meeting it was determined that I was to teach English to children from the fourth to the seventh grade for one period everyday. Needless to say I was quite freaked out. I had never actually taught anyone anything before unless you count helping people remember dates for a history exam. I was also well aware of what kids think of new teachers, especially flaky substitute ones.
My first class was with the seventh graders. I had made a couple of worksheets that I thought they could do. The response I got was incredible. All the kids were intensely competitive, trying to do everything as efficiently and intelligently as possible. Almost all of them got everything right and I knew I had to make stuff a little more challenging. That class was definitely one of the brightest. They were all really helpful and honestly made everything so much less scary.

I think the class that I probably spent the most time with though was the fourth grade. They were the polar opposite of the much better behaved seventh grade. There were only about twenty of them but honestly it felt like there were at least fifty. The first thing I did with them was to give them worksheets with the alphabet and an object beginning with that alphabet written next to it. They traced over the words quite peacefully albeit slightly noisily. And then to make it a little more interesting I put up an alphabet chart with pictures of objects from A to Z. But I left out the words underneath it giving them pieces of paper with the word on the pieces and told them to stick it onto the chart. And that was when all hell broke loose.

Everybody wanted to stick his or her word up at the same time. I think a couple of kids started crying, whether in sheer frustration or because they actually got injured in the mad rush towards the chart I will never know. But after a while we managed to get all the words stuck up there and everyone was really really happy. Yet again their drive and sheer joy in learning and doing something a little different completely surprised me. I think out of all the grades fourth standard were probably the most affectionate, hugging me every time I came and generally being absolutely lovely.

The class I particularly remember when I taught the sixth grade was the one with the (animal) flashcards. I divided them into three teams and the team that could recognize the most number of animals won. There was one boy literally knew the names of almost all the animals on the flashcards. I did the same thing with the fifth grade and when I told them to divide into two teams the boys rushed to one side and the girls to another.  The girls absolutely decimated the boys and were incredibly proud of their victory.

Another particularly memorable class was when I took a chart with the lyrics of a song on it but with some words missing. I gave the kids (seventh graders) the missing words, played the song and they filled it up. Then I played Hello and Goodbye by the Beatles to teach them opposites.

The most fulfilling part about this whole experience though was probably the way they talked to me and asked me how I was. Despite the fact that I don’t really understand Kannada they would talk to me before I left and ask me when I was coming next.

I had a really good experience and I would definitely do it again if I could.

(Medha Bhattacharya is bright 17th year old studying in Indus International School. She volunteered for 10 days and spent a total of 15 hours volunteering at a Government School. She loves to volunteer because she enjoys being with children, she feels that she is lucky to have so many opportunities and would like to contribute something whenever she can)

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