This summer, two teachers (Judah Lakin and Ambri Pukhraj) from the U.S. volunteered their efforts and taught the children at JMC.
The transcript of the audio is given below the image. You can click on the image below to listen to the interview.
Judah Lakin (JL) – hello, my name is Judah Lakin and I am a high school teacher from California.
Ambri Pukhraj (AP) – My name is Ambri Pukhraj, I grew up in Chandigarh, but I’ve been in America for the past eight years and I just finished my third year of teaching.
JMC – What motivated you to volunteer for an activity such as this in your vacation time?
JL: Normally during summer I try to travel and if I am there for about four weeks, I try to do some volunteer work. When we planned on coming here, we thought of doing some volunteer work. It just worked out in terms of the place that we could do it. It is usually in an attempt to learn a bit about the educational system wherever we are travelling.
AP: it was similar for me. I volunteered more in America than in India. On the trip back, I really wanted to do the same here, and work with low income students here. Judah and I both teach low income students in America, and it was interesting to see how that population is in India.
JMC: what is your teaching methodology with kids at JMC and how do you determine this?
JL: we had to goals. One was to try and make it as interactive as possible, because we understood that a lot of the time, they just sit and copy stuff off the board. We did some of that, but we also tried to interact with the kids more. We had only eight days, so we wanted to have a final product that they could use, and we figured out what that was and figured out all the steps we had to do, to get there.
AP: from my memory of going to school in India, I remember most of classes involved just sitting and taking in the information that teachers gave us. I think it’s important to both of us that our students also have the ability to participate and speak out and practice within the class period. I think that was something we were able to accomplish, every class we tried to have time when they could work with us and practice what they had learnt in the first half of the class.
JMC: what has your interaction with these children taught you as teachers and what have been the highlights during this period?
AP: I’ll take this one first. The most exciting part for me was just how enthusiastic the children were about learning. I think I speak for the two of us when I say that we often teach students who are very reluctant to learn. So, it was very motivating to have students who come to class so excited and really just want to learn all that they can. That was the highlight for me.
JL: I feel the same way. What I was most impressed by was that they had already been to school and this was an extra thing on top of school and they were generally more interested, motivated and generally liking school more than the average American student. It is always interesting to see such things, in Ghana as well, where they have such limited resources and they are still much more interested and much more motivated. I can’t image an American classroom where twenty kids would sit on a floor with mats in a really hot room and be totally motivated to try there hand at a few English words. I didn’t think that would happen.
AP: that and they were really just very affectionate towards us and that made us feel really welcome.
JMC: do you have any lessons that you would like to share with us at JMC that would help us in the future?
AP: I think one of the most important lessons for any teacher and anyone working with students who are at an academic disadvantage is the scope of how much needs to be taught, the number of skills, the amount of contents can be sort of overwhelming. I think with the limited time we had, it was really important to narrow it down to the most essential information.
JMC: how would you like to keep in touch with us at JMC?
AP: we’ve been promised monthly letters and photographs so we are really looking forward to that and we’ll be really good about responding to those as well. But we really want to hear from the students as regularly as we can.
JMC: is there anything else you would like to say?
AP: I’d like to say thank you for letting us do this. We came two weeks ago, and by the end of the week, we’d been given this opportunity to volunteer and we had complete freedom to do what we wanted. And that was really nice.
JL: Thank you so much for this chance. It’s been lovely.