Summer holidays are over in Hyderabad and yesterday was my first Skype session in some time, with the kids at Madina Creative School SOLE – Self Organised Learning Environment.
There were about a dozen 10 year olds, half of whom were familiar from the earlier experimental sessions before the summer and the rest were new faces. I blogged here and here and here about my earlier experiences and what I’d learned from them. This time I went in unprepared and with no expectations. I wasn’t even sure whether there would be kids online since it’s their first week back at school. Fortunately there was power and a connection and sound and video. Often these are not things things that can be taken for granted! I felt more confident this time than in my first few sessions in February/March, when I didn’t know what to expect and nothing I prepared seemed to work. I chatted recently on Skype with one of the other mediators who has more experience and she reassured me that I was on the right track.
These are kids with limited English and no exposure to people of other cultures in other countries. They chatter all at once, sometimes in their own language. They don’t always understand when I ask them something and I can’t tell if it’s the language or the content that’s the issue. But they can smile and I can smile. They can make faces and I can make faces. They are as excited to interact with me as I am with them. Already we have a connection! (In a previous post, I wrote about turning the cultural iceberg upside down … )
Calling each child by name and speaking to each one individually makes a huge difference, for a start. There was Saba with the cheeky expression, vying to be in front of the computer, Nusrath and Rehana eager to have their turns to talk, Moshim a little naughty, making faces close to the webcam , Mainaaz who’s new and a bit overwhelmed, Saniya peeping from the back at this strange foreign lady (me!). I tried to ask what they had done in their holidays, but they didn’t seem to understand. I fared better with my questions about their first days in Class 6. They told me they had classes in English, Maths, Science and Social Studies. They said they liked to draw and had drawn maps of India that day. In English they ‘learnt hard words’. Most of this was conveyed without any full sentences. Just a word or phrase, sometimes they typed something… and I put the pieces together.
They said they would bring scissors and paper next time so I can show them how to make them too.
If you’d think you’d like to be a mediator and interact with kids in India for an hour a week, check out the SOLE and SOME wiki, so you can find out more. The more mediators they have, the more this initiative can grow.
I know I get as much out of it as the kids do. So much to learn!