Check out the new blog entry from our volunteer, Renee, as she discusses how her 2nd week on the job went!
My second week in Kolkata and at CCH has flown by. I already feel settled and at home here. I am excited about what each day brings.
My second week at CCH has been fantastic. The girls are getting to know me better and there is a real buzz when I arrive at the gate- the younger ones run up and yell "Aunty.. english english??? " ( Aunty is a respectful term given to teacher etc) As I have the young ones after lunch I can tell they are a little disappointed when I have to stop hugging them so I can get the older girls for their lesson .
The one thing that really hits home with me every day I'm at the shelter home is how much the girls need love and affection. They absolutely adore the hugs you give them and when you pick them up they don't want to come down. There is hardly ever a moment when you don't have a little hand in yours. Love and belonging has to come before any learning of english can take place so I am really trying to develop close relationships with each of them. The attention that I give each of them is very special and I want the girls to feel like they matter and that they are important.
I have already noticed that the little girls have bonded quite quickly. They want to show me everything, they have their books ready and waiting for class and some of them make sure they put their cleanest and best dress on for the lesson. ( it is so cute!!! ) Its actually been quite sad leaving them everyday.
I'm a high school teacher so it has been a real learning curve for me to teach english to small children who know virtually nothing in english. As there is a mixed range of english skills I have 2 of the older girls who help me with some of the translations. This has been extremely effective for both. The older girls feels special because they are helping me and they are also getting to practice their english skills which is increasing their knowledge. Last week we looked at colours and simple greetings and the girls ended the session with drawing pictures using the colours they learnt. we also played some rhythm games which had the entire room giggling and having fun.
My lessons with the older girls make me laugh. They are just like the teenage girls I teach back In Australia in the way they talk about love and romance and fashion. They have started to open up to me about boys and who they would like to marry. One girl even told me she was going to marry an Australian boy and have their honeymoon in Melbourne!! I told her Perth was a much better option as it rains all the time in Melbourne). It worries me a little bit that they have an unrealistic expectation about getting married and moving out of the shelter home. I really want them to place more value on getting a solid education, as this is whats going to help them. There are a few girls who go to bed late so when I get there in the morning I have to go up to their room and wake them up. When they make it downstairs we have a discussion about goals and why education is so important. ( sometimes I think this sentiment alone is more powerful that the actual words they learn) I want them to have the desire to learn and I hope more than anything that my presence helps inspire that in them.
There is one girl who is extremely bright and we have an hour each day together. She reads the newspapers I bring her in the day before and we discuss current events and politics. I asked her about the future of India and what she would do if she were in charge……and I was extremely impressed by her response. She quoted a minister who had said that Kolkata could be the new London. She then went onto talking about poverty and inequality being the first issues that need addressing… not beautifying the buildings. I can really see this young woman going a long way. The reason why I bring her up is because she espouses hope for a better life in the future she knows that diligent effort in study and education now will reward her later on. I am definitely encouraging her to plant this important seed in some of the younger girls around her.
On another positive note- A few friends back home donated some money to buy some learning resources for the girls ( A huge thank you Kate, Ozzy and Dee for being so generous) so I bought some new reading materials on the weekend. Some excellent first learning books, some spelling and grammar games and some picture books that encourage english through colour. I also got lots of activity books and pencils. I'm going to buy a couple of " magi doodles- or sketch a thins" today ( you know the ones you write with a magnetic pen and wipe clean ) they will be excellent for the girls to practice their writing in a fun way. I can't wait to use them all this week.
As I write this I am again reminded of how lucky we are in the western world to have the access and opportunity to have a good quality education. Every child and person in the world should have this universal right and I truly believe that education- particularly girls education will be one of the most important factors in alleviating poverty and the problems that arise from this poverty. ( such as human trafficking and slavery).
Well thats my news for this week so until next time abar dekha home x