I am writing today because I witnessed a very inspiring sight yesterday when I was invited for lunch at a neighbor’s home. The neighbor has adult children, and runs a home filled with his children and grandchildren, with the help of one maid. Though the work appeared to be very demanding, once everyone was out of the house, and I was there sipping some chai, I overheard, from across the room, somebody was reciting the English alphabet, in a very heavy accent. When I looked over, I noticed the maid herself was reading from a notebook aloud! It was quite surprising to see that this young maid, who doesn’t attend any school, took the initiative to start to learn English on her own, as she practiced reading the alphabet correctly from memory. Even more surprising to me was that the family that invited me for lunch doesn’t speak any English really at all: They simply enjoy my company! The maid had no access to any English newspaper, as the family only receives a copy of the news in Hindi each day, and yet the family still took the time to offer their maid English lessons. I am still surprised with what I witnessed, but it is very heartening to see that many average, middle-class people in India do want to help out their illiterate brothers and sisters in India. We should not take our own education for granted, as I never realized how precious being able to read a sign or write a message really is until I started working with Ek Koshish.
As we have been keeping up with our classes, I am posting a picture from our last lesson with the children, when we practiced dictation with the advanced class, and continued with basic numbers and letters with our beginners.
Last night, we held the second class with our newest students at Ek Koshish. The children came eagerly to class, excited to learn new material, as they had been out of school all summer up until now. With Arun, we got to work on learning all of his capital letters in cursive, as he had advanced up to this level. He was having trouble with capital G, but we taught him the correct way. Interestingly enough, the cursive script we use in India is quite different from the cursive script we are taught in the US, especially when it comes to capital letters: so, I too learned how to write the cursive letters in English when in India! Arun has mastered the first half of the alphabet in cursive, and he knows all of the letters in printed form as well. Poonam, the youngest of the children, is surprisingly advanced, compared to her older brother and sister, as she knows the whole alphabet, and knew how to add and subtract small numbers. Priya was very good in her addition and subtraction practice with us, so we gave her some more advanced practice with adding and subtracting: Soon we can teach her how to carry over numbers when adding. When I spent time with Nancy, she showed great progress with her counting numbers, on her own, up to twenty, and recognizing their corresponding symbols by heart. Badal, up until yesterday, could not draw any number besides “1,” but yesterday the director from Ek Koshish sat with him and helped him to be able to write the number “2” on his own! He drew the number several times for practice, and we hope that he can move on to more numbers in the coming lessons. Finally, Vicky is still having a hard time recognizing that letters aren’t numbers, but he has been practicing writing the capital letters “A” and “B” quite well, and can write the numbers “1-4” like a natural now. I am very proud of our bright young students, who are desperate to escape from the life of poverty they currently lead.