I arrived at Shanti Bhavan June 11 th 2006 and will remember every moment I spent at Shanti Bhavan until I left July 21 st. I heard about the school through an old teacher, Mrs. Law, who is now the principal of Shanti Bhavan. I was so excited at the opportunity to work at the school, though I did not quite know what to expect upon arrival. I was to teach piano and music class when I arrived, but did not know what my other responsibilities would be.

When I got to campus, I quickly grew accustomed to the daily schedule of classes, assembly, mealtimes and snack times, and sports/music activities. I was responsible for teaching English to eighth grade, geography to ninth grade, assisting with music class for the young kids, piano to students ranging from fourth to ninth grade, as well as organizing the second library of the school and reading stories during the younger childrens’ bedtime. Although I wish I had known specifically what I would be teaching so that I could have brought more appropriate teaching materials with me, it was an interesting as well as challenging experience to acclimate myself as best I could to the classroom.

The accommodations were clean and comfortable and very close to the school building. I soon made friends with the two little gecko lizards on the walls of the room which ate up all the mosquitoes. There was a telephone in the building I was staying in on which I could receive phone calls or make phone calls if I bought a phone card. Additionally, for volunteers who plan to use cell phones, Airtel service provider provides service on certain parts of campus.

There was ample time in the day to prepare teaching materials, as well as spend time with other volunteers or staff members, or with the children. Although at first I felt as though I didn’t have enough to fill my day, after speaking with Ms. Beena, a vice principal, I was given more responsibilities. Perhaps my favorite time of each day was when I was in the classroom or working with piano students. The children are very respectful but also playful, and interested to learn about their academic subjects, but especially about volunteers’ life experiences, stories, and anything new and different.

I arrived at Shanti Bhavan nervous but excited, and left full of questions and so sad to leave students and staff that I grew close to. The teaching experience that I was lucky enough to have has made me eager to return to Shanti Bhavan after I graduate, and I am happy to share my experience more fully with prospective volunteers. Thank you to Mrs.Law, Dr. George, and all the students and teachers at Shanti Bhavan, best of luck, and God bless.

Tara Gonsalves
Brown University , Rhode Island, USA

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