[Editor's Note: This is the fourth installment from guest blogger Isabel Rutherfurd, who is a volunteer teacher at Shanti Bhavan.]
Volunteering at Shanti Bhavan immediately pulls you from your world at home and into a new community half way across the world in rural South India. The day you arrive, smiling faces eager to learn your name greet you to learn where you are from and how you came to be at Shanti Bhavan.
Your days begin with the whole school having coconut curry, maybe a dosa (an Indian rice pancake), and a cup of chai before dashing off to start the school day. The classes volunteers teach range from grammar to music to accounting. My personal favorite was setting up a model UN with the middle schoolers as part of their history and government coursework. Each class is different, with the personalities the kids shining through to the center of the classroom. However, all of the students value their education as thy realize it is the key to their future success, and an opportunity for them improve the quality of life for their families.
Everyday, the school gathers in the schoolhouse while students share news headlines and kindergarteners explain a virtue like kindness through a short skit they’ve rehearsed with their classmates. These always promise a few “aws” and chuckles, as well as a chance for the young ones to bask in the limelight.
Later in the day, kids get a chance to unwind while the volunteers oversee a game of basketball or soccer. The physical activity is a great break for everyone from the academic collaboration between volunteer and student that happens throughout the day. Volunteers share their knowledge and experiences with the whole community of Shanti Bhavan, and in return, grow meaningful relationships with the students who look up to them as role models. It is an incredible experience that makes every volunteer feel lucky to have had!
Want to help more girls learn to dream big at Shanti Bhavan? Come out to the GIRLS WHO ROCK show in New York City on Friday, May 18th. Check out additional details about the concert including talent line-up and buy your tickets here! You can follow along on Twitter (of course!) at @girlswhorockny | @shesthefirst | #GWR2012