In DP1, for Tuesday service, I taught students from Equality for All (EFA). EFA is a boarding school with students ranging from 1st – 6th grade. Their objectives are to educate individuals, girls specifically, from marginalized communities, build leadership skills and promote gender equality, and provide their students with a safe environment to learn and grow. While my main objective was to help strengthen the EFA students’ language-based skills through mathematics, I also took inspiration from EFA’s goals, with a personal aim to enforce such ideals through these service sessions.
Initially, due to COVID-19, we were unable to have direct teaching sessions with the EFA students. The mathematics group decided to make a workbook with materials for the relevant grades. Effective collaboration online was a challenge, especially while working in isolated environments due to COVID. But the conversations we had during service allowed us to ask each other questions and provide feedback and feedforward as and when necessary. We collaborated and shared our ideas through this, despite the unfortunate situation.
We began online sessions with the EFA students using zoom in late January. In the months leading up to these face-to-face sessions, I became my group’s leader. I remained in constant communication with every party associated with Equality for All. I sent consistent updates to Ms. Prabha (the EFA principal), Ms. Poonam (the EFA mathematics teacher & service supervisor), Ms. Madhuri (my teacher advisor), Vania (the EFA English group student leader), Myungchan (the EFA technology group student leader), and Ms. Maya (the service coordinator). Communicating allowed me to develop relationships with each of the parties mentioned above, and the functioning of the relationships inspired effective and productive collaboration.
An advantage I had was that I had previously worked with EFA students in MYP5. I continued working with the same students in DP 1, albeit while teaching a different subject. The continuity in teaching the same group of students allowed me to continuously show integrity in my speech and actions, behave in a consistent, reliable manner, and illustrate my leadership abilities by establishing trust. At the same time, my inability to fluently speak and understand Hindi posed a long-standing challenge. My personal goal was to develop my Hindi-speaking skills. During the first few months of online teaching, I could only speak English and have a teammate translate. However, I finally got to a level where I could communicate simple sentences in Hindi. It was difficult, but if I could take anything from my service experience, it would be to try new experiences, especially if I think I might fail, and put myself out there because it is the only way to learn and succeed in life.
I knew that being considered underprivileged, most of the EFA students do not have access to materials that I am lucky and privileged enough to have. An unfortunate fact was that even though all the students in my group were intelligent, because of their status in life, many of them will find it challenging to find opportunities in life to help them grow. With this understanding, I hoped to provide them with a space to feel free to be themselves and show their interest in STEM subjects through these sessions.
Throughout my DP 1 service experience, I have grown as both an individual and EFA team leader. I feel happy knowing that I accomplished what I set out to do and achieved my goal of teaching the students in a practical yet entertaining manner. I gained newfound confidence in myself and others. When we initially started teaching these students, I convinced myself to lead the group. This meant reaching out and communicating with MIS teachers, sharing information I received with the other members, and speaking directly to EFA teachers and their principal. It was only when it registered that most people in the EFA group relied on me that I realized that I was capable of being a leader. Service has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences. Through the opportunity I was given, I hope that I have changed their lives, whether my help had a big or small impact.
Savera DP 2