Jean has just finished four weeks as a volunteer on the Book Bus India Project. Read what she says about her experience at school.
“Ma’am, ma’am,yeh?” asks a child holding a crayon and wanting to know if it’s the right one. It’s a question we’ve grown accustomed to in the last four weeks as children seek confirmation that what they are doing is right. After a tentative start, our mimes, songs and visual aids have scaled the language barrier. Our routines are now so familiar that many children dive into activities such as wordsearches, or labelling a diagram of the body without much prompting.Listening to their chatter as they help each other complete tasks is a joy; and very rewarding to notice that they are remembering new words and phrases and making connections with concepts we taught previously.
String has been in great demand to tie to fluttering rainbow fish and twirling snakes, as are urgent requests for smiley faces for work well done. Teachers, some reticent at first, have joined our activities, translated instructions, and kept our visual aids displayed in their classrooms.In our Monday school, village teenagers turn up and delight in reading alongside their brothers and sisters. Adults from the village also drop in to classes and smile their approval. The sense of community is very strong and we are always warmly welcomed.
Teaching is not just one way – we’ve learnt a few everyday phrases, to count to ten in Hindi, and the names of basic colours and animals.I shall probably remember forever that margermunch, our favourite word, means crocodile.
Jean Ashbury. Volunteer Book Bus India March 2013