Not just another day at work

1st October 2011

I got up early in the morning at 0400 Hrs and I knew that today was going to be special. So with great enthusiasm I tied the lace of my Adidas shoes and grabbed my iPod (Loyal Companions) and left out. The combination of these was supposed to keep me going for the day. It was still dark. I had to walk a nice 2.5 Km to catch the bus which was supposed to come at 0540 Hrs. Unsurprisingly the bus was late which came at around 0600 Hrs.

So then the journey started, picking up others on the route. Soon the morning sun came out and there was some light. Slowly the bus left out the city with the buildings initially becoming scarce and then only smaller ones were seen with the green fields increasing on the other hand. The bus was taking me to a route (NH4) which I have like travelled for past one and a half year more than fifty times, but had never travelled it during daytime. I was travelling a long distance during daytime after years. We had breakfast in the bus itself, and then made a short stop for tea. we travelled on NH4 till 1100 and then took a left(instead of my usual right to village). We were in Karad. Our destination was Vita some 40 Kms from here. On the way I found a signboard to Bijapur. It said 100 km. This was the place where I spent some of my early childhood days.

So we reached Vita, got the message that the second bus was broken down, so instead of two volunteers in a class it would be one. It didn’t actually matter to me much. Having taken such sessions for three classes previously, I was pretty much confident this time. The only anxiety was about which class I would be getting. I always prefer higher classes, since they understand bit easily and pay more attention. This time a  Engineering College was chosen, where students from nearby school would be attending it. We were as always welcomed like celebrities in the college. Each one of us was given a rose by an engineering student.

As I entered the class, there was a pindrop silence. Well I expected atleast a Good Morning Sir or something like that. Anyways, I kept my bag and Rose on the chair. I took a nervous look at the class, took a deep breath and started. Immediately I noticed that the class consisted only of girls. No doubt there was so much of silence. The uniform they wore was red Salwar Kameez. Unlike my other rural visits these students were looking much well-mannered and well-dressed.

I started with my brief introduction and the sponsors intro(Infosys). I had to speak in Marathi. There are some advantages in taking such sessions in Marathi. The students are less frightened of us and it helps to reduce the barrier between the teacher and the student very quickly. I decided to start with some ice-breaker questions. As to what is Computer etc. No one answered anything. Given a class of girls and an unknown person(ME) asking questions, that was expected. I went on ahead explaining about computers. An electronic device used to do mathematical calculations accurately and quickly. Followed were some examples of bank, library, shops etc. I explained them exactly how using computers in such fields is not only time saving but also efficient. I explained the parts of computers viz. Input and Output devices. Now I asked questions and the students answered. I started to feel much more confident.

The task here was not to give bookish definitions to the students, but to make them understand and tell them exactly how much fun it is to understand and use computers. I then started to explain the idea of Internet. And as I explained it I could see the anxiety in the eyes of the students. Mostly they were thinking like “Whoa, A thing like this also exists.” I asked them if they have heard anything like google.com or rediff.com or yahoo.com and the answer was no. So it was another task to explain them this.

Whenver I ask a student to answer my question, I ask him/her to say his name aloud to the class. This is a great morale booster. As the students started answering, I noticed those were the ones who came out of their comfort zones and started asking me questions. In short MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I answered some queries of the stuedents. Even though it was late for lunch break they were still listning with patience.

The lunch was great. Actually the arrangement was pretty good too. So after lunch, we were supposed to give students the hands on session. The agenda was Microsoft Word, Excel, Paint etc. Its really bad to see the expression of the students who dont get a chance to do a hands on session. So I have requested the organizing committee that next time we have two PC in a class instead of one. When you see students asking for a chance you can’t deny them too.

At the end of the day, the feedback from the students goes as follows.. Almost 40+ Thank You, 30+ You teach really well, 10+ Do come to our school once. I was almost at tears with the last statement. Such a day never I will forget. Nor the faces of the students.

Sorry for the late posting.

Another visit to school (As a Teacher)

This is the second time I have entered in an remote school as a teacher. All thanks to Infosys for their immense support and initiative. Under the Rural Reach Program(RRP) of Spark, it identifies remote schools with no access to computers. The Computer department do the work of setting up computers in each class before the event. Our(Volunteer) job is to give the basic idea of computers to the kids.

Advantage to the kids:

The kids who have almost no idea about computers, get to see and operate the computers in front of IT professionals. We give some really good examples in which they are indirectly using computers. They get a platform to raise their curious questions such as how are cartoons made, what is hacking 🙂 etc. etc. They have heard the terms but never got a good knowledge about it. Above all, this helps in shaping their future. They can think about this career right from the start. The Spark is ignited.
Another advantages include free food for the day, day off from hectic studies and rather a fun and great atmosphere to learn.

Advantage to us:

Right when we step foot in the school, we are being looked at us like stars. Most of the normal days are spent by an IT professional sitting in his cubicle. Visits like this refresh you up. For us it is very simple to introduce computers to the kids and at the same time take some difficult questions from the them. When you step in the class, it reminds you of your school days. Maybe you will find a smaller version of yourself in there. Our school days may never come back, but we can re-live those in moments like these. You realize how the teachers have to work hard to impart the knowledge upon you, without which we wouldn’t had been here.

Moments:

There are many moments which really warm your heart up. Mostly, the assembly before and then after school. Even though the kids are so mischievous( I won’t blame them for this 🙂 ) and full of energy, the discipline they show during this time is simply amazing. And I really can’t put it in words how it feels to be there at that particular moment.

Message to all my friends:

India, as a country will improve only when we take some small steps in our life. Kids are the future of our country and in order to achieve the “Vision 2020” by Abdul Kalam we should all work towards it. Even if get any slightest chance of doing such great deeds; never hesitate and at the end of the day you will surely have the feeling that “You have done something to make India better”

What do we need to do further:

Its time for the Indian Government to come out of their comfort circle and give more priority to education than sports. I don’t say remove sports but it should be secondary. The primary aim should be education. If we can spend 100 Crores on a cricket match(where only 20 people get the money); just imagine how much just 1 Crore worth of amount will do to develop the infrastructure in schools.

The only reason I am against excessive government spending on foolish things like these is that I don’t like the phrase “80% of the wealth is with 20% of the people”

The choice is up to us “If we want a handful people to enjoy or the whole of country to move ahead”

So go ahead and create a difference.