Volunteer Abroad 2014
What We Did
We worked at the Vidya community center in Okhla Phase I for 7 days (over the span of two weeks) teaching the children there English. We focused on having the children learn and understand the meaning, pronunciation, and spelling of important English words in the categories: nature/outdoors, animals, clothes, verbs, transportation, and common indoor objects. We achieved this through making flash cards, playing memory games, hosting small spelling tests, and playing spelling games like “Sparkle.” We also used common English songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” and “Old McDonald” to teach them common English phrases. In the mornings, we would work with the boys and in the afternoons we would work with the girls.
We have left behind a hard copy of all of the songs, words, and games we taught the children. We continue to keep in contact with a few of the students and teachers at the Vidya community center through social media sites like Facebook. One of the teachers informed us that the students still love to sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “ The Wheels on the Bus.” We hope that our time at the school has also inspired the children there to pursue further education and lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty they’re currently in. Hopefully there will be more people volunteering in the future and providing resources for them to be able to do this. This volunteer experience will hopefully help future groups understand how to approach engaging the children and teaching them. Also, for any future groups of University of Michigan that are planning to volunteer on a similar project, our group is able to help advise them on how prepare an effective lesson and how to make the most of your experience. We are also able to Skype with groups outside of UofM to provide similar guidance. Additionally, Vidya has a better idea of what volunteers are able to help with and what to expect when a group of college students from the U.S. come to volunteer.
Actually seeing and occasionally experiencing the challenges that people in India face on a daily basis gave all of our volunteers a perspective that they’ll be able to take into all their future efforts in social work or other. Because of this perspective we’ll also be able to influence that of others, hopefully inspiring them to action as well.
Overall, our volunteering experience was incredible and it will be one of those events in our lives we will never forget. The passion for learning and genuine interest the lessons from the children was so inspiring. We rarely saw them not smiling or laughing. It was so touching to see them really put in an effort to learn the material and make progress with that learning over the course of the two weeks. It was so neat to see us begin to better understand each other, with us learning a few basic Hindi phrases and the children picking up a variety of English words and phrases, even beyond the flash cards and songs. We also thoroughly enjoyed the National Independence Day celebration put on by the center – what an incredible show! Even though we couldn’t understand the speakers, we really appreciated the passion they held for their country and the energy in the crowd’s responses. Above all, we loved seeing the children sing, dance, and act. Overall, seeing the children’s concentration and dedication to learning throughout the two weeks (as well as seeing how patient they were with our limited Hindi) is something that will stay with us.
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