TAUGHT FOR INDIA. LEARNT FROM IT.
They'd call me Didi (Hindi for 'sister'). This is my journey of becoming their Pratibha didi, from the moment I walked into that classroom with no desks, no chairs, no fans (except for those twinkly-eyed ones of the teacher). Volunteering for Teach For India as a Teaching Intern, I didn't know I'd end up learning more from the kids than they'd learn from me.
One of the most striking memories is of the day that I was asked to conduct and record their "English Conversation Skills Test" as the language had only been introduced in their curriculum last year. I was to ask them a fixed set of questions, and was clearly instructed NOT TO HELP by translating it in Hindi or it would defeat the purpose. Their answers, ranging from happy to profound, were quite eye-opening.
The very first discussion was about the problem of water shortage in their respective localities—with some of houses receiving water only once a day or once a week. And to think how often a school teacher would tell scold a student for coming to school looking “shabby.” Here, everything usually taken for granted, was precious.
A WORN OUT QUESTION. A REFRESHING ANSWER.
Here's another insightful incident. I asked one of the kids to come up to the board and draw the standard symbols for the sexes. They were confused as to what kind of symbols? So to drop a hint, I drew the female symbol on the board (not specifying the sex.
That was part of the question.) So, one of the girls confidently drew the above.
Her naive perspective on gender appearances notwithstanding, it makes you think and brings a smile to your face. Whenever I have writer's block now, I try to think like a child.
This child in particular.