My stint here at Shanti Bhavan began on 31st August 2006 and culminated on 13th May 2007. From the time I have arrived here the facilties provided for my stay have been extremely comfortable. Every aspect on one's stay here is taken care of so that you can solely focus on involving yourself at the school. I was primarily involved with assisting the children in math and science on a periodic basis. Additionally, I was also part of the games that children learn in a formal setting during the early hours of the day. The schedule beyond class is not very demanding (depending on the courses you decided to assist in) and allows ample opportunity for involvement around Shanti Bhavan. Since, Shanti Bhavan is a little short-staffed it is easy to find out other ways to be of assistance beyond academics.

The children have a tight schedule right through the day. During class time your interaction will primarily be with the grades you assist. It’s a good idea to meet kids from the other classes during meal times and free games time. They are very respectful, courteous and easy to get along with.

Considering the background of the children it is important to understand that they are being brought up in a very protected environment. Some steps that may appear a little difficult for the children are only taken to ensure that once they are outside Shanti Bhavan they have the right bent of mind to know what is appropriate for them. In that sense it becomes important to provide them with a point of view of the privileged outside world which they will soon be joining on account of the fantastic opportunities that they have available with them while at Shanti Bhavan. The teachers and the residential staff work extremely hard to ensure that the children’s best interests are taken care of at any given point of time. Hence, it becomes important for a volunteer to back up and reinforce the value systems being taught to the children. Lest, a situation be created where the child is faced with diametrically opposite views which the teachers and residential staff would have a hard time dealing with. Any views, suggestions or observations are always welcomed and enforced based on the benefit the children can gain, and the discretion of the authorities.

The school has a huge fund of resources in its libraries for reference and other materials in storage. I would suggest getting here first and seeing what is required and then coming to a decision with regard to what could holistically help in the learning of a particular course for a given grade. In the event that one is interested in procuring materials that could be handy for the school, the wish list of the website under the donation section is a great place to start and see what the urgent and pressing needs of the school are.

The current physical and games training instructors for the children are always enthusiastic about teaching the children new sports for which equipment is available at the school. So if there is a sport for which you see that you have the material available to teach the children, this would be a great place to start. The idea is to impart to them sufficient skills so that they can eventually pursue the sport on a more independent basis during their outdoor games time.

If there are any more additional questions that you may have about spending time at Shanti Bhavan (which I strongly recommend), I can be reached at r_rishab@hotmail.com

Rishab R Shyam
Purdue University, West Lafayepte, USA


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