Education in Sarnath
The last week we have been working with an education project in Sarnath, India. The project was started by Dr. Abhaya Jain and is targeted towards low-caste and low-class students who do not have opportunities for a quality education. While officially illegal in India, the caste system is still highly prevalent in rural areas and very disenfranchising for individuals from Dalit (low-caste and untouchables) families. Our group primarily worked with preschool students, which mostly consisted of playing games, drawing and the occasional dance party.
Dr. Jain has told us that the most important impact we can bring each year is not to teach lessons in English, math or science. Rather, it is to give affection and show the children that we are all equals. For much of their life they will be told that they are inferior in Indian society. Dr. Jain believes a way to prevent children from internalizing this mindset is to have contact with the international community that does view them this way. And a perfect way to communicate equality through a language barrier is with games and play!
While in Sarnath, we also did homestays with Indian families in the community. We are continually amazed by their graciousness and kindness as hosts for our students. They are incredibly welcoming and work hard to make us feel like we are simply another member of their extended family. Their hospitality has really impacted people in our group and something we hope to adopt in our own lives back in the US.
Hope all is well back home and we will be in touch soon,
Charlie and the IVS group