Yep, I finally took a nose-dive into community service and Deepam gave me a one-way ticket. So, on a balmy Saturday morning, with the whispers of the adjacent Bay Of Bengal casting a smile on my face, I found myself at the Olcott School with a bunch of 20-odd teens raring to take on the world with their lofty dreams. All they needed was that little reassurance, or an acqueising smile to show them they were headed in the right direction; that someone actually cared- and we were there to do just that.
The first class, two weeks ago, was mostly about breaking the ice and reaching out to them. This wasn’t a problem- after all these were urban kids who seemed quite knowledgeable about issues that Chennai teenagers care about- Kollywood, cricket et all. They were so much into grasping what we intended to offer them that they forgot to give us nick-names (!). Though I found them innocent and unfazed by the journey to adulthood that confronted them, they had a mature side to themselves in that they had concrete plans for their lives, beyond castles in the air that every city teenager loves to build at their age. So much so, that most of them were intent on breaking into the admin/police service while the majority wanted to become software engineers. Of course, the few girls who aspired to be housewives had second thoughts when peals of laughter broke out in the crowd 😛
The first class- we took on groups of 4-5 and asked them to quiz us and fill out a form on our behalf and then make a presentation to the class. Quite neatly done, within the schedule too.
Then followed a game of antakshari when we tried to break the routine and all of us were pleased when we realized we could sing without remorse ;). Lastly, we got them to fill out personal forms with their role model and ambition and read them out in class- giving each student his due. In the second class, we carried forward the learn-through-games idea and settled on a simple vocab-building game, which we will expand eventually as they get into the mood. They loved to learn all the states and their capitals (with occasional help from the Atlas) and meticulously wrote them down. They did, of course, stumble with capitals of North-Eastern states, but come to think of it, didn’t we too?
So time flew by and before we knew it, four hours had come to an end. One of them asked if me he’d be able to use the laptop soon and I smiled assuringly when he proudly showed me his work-register with his time-table and weekly agendas. The Saturdays, though blank, were pencilled with “Deepam class” on the side- so that’s when I realized that we’d sunk our roots firmly at Olcott…now it’s time to grow!