PPES Blog Post
By:- Maya Bedge
I have always been passionate about promoting girls’ education, and in July of 2017, I decided to channel that passion by making a trip to (Pardada Pardadi Educational Society) PPES. For the past four years, in my hometown of Portland, OR, I have volunteered with REAL: Youth To Youth, a non-profit organization that provides grants to rural schools in order to promote literacy among underprivileged students. Our organization has been supporting PPES with substantial grants for the past few years and this trip was also an opportunity to see the work PPES does for the girls of Anupshahr, and identify resource gaps at the school that REAL can help address.
Speaking with Mr. Sam, Mr. Jose, and the other staff at the school was compelling because they have a real passion for serving these students. When I first arrived at the school, the excitement of the girls to see us was contagious! The respect the students give the volunteers is humbling and their sincere interest in learning is inspiring.
During my trip, I spent time in the math lab, english lab and art classroom. In the math lab, I helped some of the students solve homework problems and clarified concepts by answering their questions. At the English lab, I taught geography of the world—the major continents and their major geographical features, as well as the oceans of the world—with some blank maps brought from the US. That class was the first time both the 6th and 11th graders had ever heard about the concept of a ‘continent’. Lastly, in the art room, I conducted an art project—also with materials brought from the US—in which the girls designed and decorated their own poster detailing their vocational goals for the future. Over 40 posters were completed and will be hung up in the school for everyone to see!
On days the higher grade students were testing during their classes, I and some other volunteers would walk to the primary school and substitute in for teachers that needed to take a break. With the youngest kids, we would teach them songs in English (“head, shoulders, knees and toes”), practice simple math skills, help them expand their English vocabulary, or teach them simple dances (Macarena, Cupid Shuffle). Though sometimes tiring, being in the classroom leading activities for the students was incredibly rewarding when I saw the smiles of pure joy on their faces when they learned something new or understood a concept.
Other times, when I was done conducting lessons, I would speak with teachers about what they need most in their classrooms, or learn about the curriculum they prepare for the students. I plan to take these requests from teachers back to the US and determine how our non-profit can help fulfill these needs.
As an American student, it can be easy to take for granted the education we are provided and fall into the chasm of indifference for the institution that gives us so much. The girls at PPES reminded me that the opportunity to attend school is one that should be closely cherished, not despised. During my eight dayvisit to the school, not once did I ever see a student that looked unhappy. When I was leaving the school, many of the girls said that I became their role model, but looking back on it, the students at the school are truly my role models because of their persistence in obtaining a valuable education, especially in an environment where girl’s education is not a priority.
My visit to PPES was extraordinary and I will return to the school very soon. I can’t wait to see the girls again one day and the progress they’ve made in their education.