The New Deepam center @ Venkata Ramana School, Alwarpet got off to a great start with a vibrant inaugural session this morning at 10.30 AM. The Principal was waiting eagerly for us along with Mr.Janardhan from Rotary who connected Deepam with VRS. And when Abhinav walked in with camera in hand, it was time to begin.
Twenty select children from 5th grade were made to assemble in a small, tidy classroom. Basu gave a cute intro about Deepam to the wide-eyed kids in his bengali tamil. We shared the short term Objectives to be met by Deepam, and the Principal emphasized to the students the unique opportunity that they were getting. Over the next half hour each volunteer guided students with filling the Know Your Students Form.
It was Thilaka Ravi who took over at this point, with a very effective session on spoken English covering basic action verbs. The loud and energetic response of the VRS children charged the classroom, and even we volunteers who were watching got pulled into the exercise of structuring simple action sentences ! Her teaching skills left us feeling that the right person was in charge here ! Meantime new volunteer Pradyut supported by another new volunteer Abhishek, brought the 4 OLPCs that were being charged in another classroom. I must mention here that Pradyut had come over the previous evening after a long day at IIT, and after tinkering around with an OLPC took it home to get a proper feel of it. Such involvement is indeed very reassuring.
The class was divided into 4 groups and the session on Paint that followed proved that children’s curiosity about computers is a universal thing. Each child got a chance to draw shapes, and fill colour. Earlier we were wondering if they might need a mouse for easier navigation, but the children surprised us with their quickness in learning to point, click and drag the cursor with the touch pad.
Two hours just flew past, and when we were leaving, almost every child came forward to shake our hands with a smiling Thank You or Happy New Year. A great start it was this morning ! Another chance indeed for Deepam to empower deserving children !