Even in the glaring heat of the afternoon, the ground is never empty. They are distributed all over; some chasing each other, some skipping rope, some bouncing an old volleyball across a strung net. The disruption only starts when we enter the compound, when the first child sees us. Her eyes light up, but she’s too shy to come over, so she settles for a tentative wave instead. The word soon spreads and the ground soon resonated with shouts of “Hi!” and “How are you?” The bolder ones come up for handshakes and pats on the back, while the quieter lot are inclined to peek out from behind pillars and shyly grin upon being greeted. We make our way to the empty classroom, dusting off tables and opening windows. The students soon pile in and class has begun.
This trip every Thursday to the Sarjapura School is more than just an attempt to ‘give back’ to the community. Structured through the B.E program, the aim is to help the students learn and develop the skills and qualities required to become entrepreneurs. Presented through the Box of Skills, we try to take the students through an understanding of what each skill means and their relevance to everyday life. Through stories and activities, we try to show them how these skills can be incorporated into their own lives in the hope of empowering them to start their own businesses. Each class is a new experience, each story a lesson, each activity an event. The story of three girls who set out to put their town on a map brings out the importance of questioning. The drawing of calendars to mark out special dates highlights the significance that planning plays in helping organize one’s life. With each session, it’s our hope that the students take something back with them each week, something that inspires them to take charge of their lives and not just accept what is dealt to them.
We all come here with the same aim – to teach these children, these children so alike to us, with the same dreams and goals but such different lives. Lalith who aspires to become a policeman; Snehapriya who dreams of one day teaching science in a big university; Masoon, who is not quite sure what he wants to do yet, but assures us that for now, he is quite content just playing with his sheep Macha. In a way, we all just come to learn from each other, to bridge this divide, where the only thing separating us from them is opportunity. Nothing makes them happier than understanding new things and in turn, nothing makes us happier than when they understand what we are trying to teach them. Though to be honest, it’s not only us doing the teaching. The same teacher pride that arises in us is just as prevalent in them when they watch us attempt to converse in Kannada, using words that they taught us. It’s in this mutual admiration that we feel proud of working with them. Although we may not have many budding entrepreneurs at the present, if at least one student can use what he or she has learnt, to determine their own future, then we will know that we did our job.
On behalf of students of Grade 12A