02 August 2015
For the past two and a half months, I’ve taught health education to the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 11th graders here at PPES. At first it was a real challenge trying to communicate with them without me speaking Hindi and without them speaking English, and for the first few weeks of my stay, I was always on the lookout for another teacher to translate for me during class. After about a month, I began pushing through all the classes without a translator, and while it was painful at times, it ended up being really fun. Every time we understood each other, the entire class would get excited and we’d celebrate by doing a cheer that involved us miming animals ranging from lions to peacocks (with none of us truly knowing how to mime a peacock).
If there’s one thing all the students desire from the volunteers that come to PPES, it’s for us to dance for them. If I had a rupee for all the times a student interrupted a lesson or randomly said, “Ma’am, please, dance. No ma’am, dance.” I would be a rich girl. For the times we would dance together and I would wow them with my superb dance skills (the sprinkler, running man, and lawn mower) they would laugh and join along, except for that one time a 6th grader wrinkled her nose at me and said “Ma’am…no.” Though it’s safe to say the Macarena is a huge hit with ALL the students. It’s also cool to see the imprint past volunteers left on them, particularly with their English. Many 11th graders love the opportunity to say “I’m awesome!” instead of “I’m good” (thanks, Mikey) and are eager to learn new words (I supplied them with “splendid”). One of my favorites was when I went to my 7th B class and one of the girls told me my hair was “Messy hair, don’t care” – not sure which volunteer taught her that but I laughed pretty hard. All the students are always really well kept, with their hair tamed and braided, and I always tend to have messy, yesterday’s ponytail-hair. Which leads me to one of my favorite things about teaching here – taking advantage of their incredible braiding skills and letting them braid my hair almost daily. It was a win/win for all of us; having your hair braided is awesome, and they always had fun doing it.
The students at PPES are absolutely amazing. They are beautiful, intelligent, inspiring, and eager to learn. They are your typical pre-teens and teenagers and love hearing about America and other places that are different from India. They’re also incredibly forgiving of how horrid I am at pronouncing anything in Hindi, and for that, I am forever grateful.
-by Cate Green