Marika Viragh writes to us
My first visit to the FabIndia School fell on a day where class was not in session and there was not a student in sight. Despite the seemingly empty school ground, I felt a deep sense of excitement and energy by simply walking around the campus. The classrooms were decorated with student work, flowers and vines draped the sides of the buildings, and it was evident how much the organic setting of the school influences the student experience. The next morning I jumped on the school bus with my host brother and mother, a student and teacher at the school and we bounced along the road towards the school. Upon arrival, the kids ran out of the school bus and through the gates, dropping their oversized backpacks before playing all sorts of games before the first morning bell and I could immediately sense the harmony that existed between the school grounds and the spirits that filled it.
Each day after assembly, the six periods of the school day begin, and each of them proved to be a formative aspect of my experience. Whether I was observing, helping a student navigate a dictionary, playing charades to explain a new work, or reciting a poem to the class, I found myself continuously energized by the spirit of the students and their willingness to learn.
I spent my time working with english classes varying from grade 2 to grade 9, as well as the history, economics, and social studies classes for the upper levels. My involvement included helping the students understand new vocabulary, work through comprehensions questions, design activities and lessons, and help when ever a hand was needed. Some highlights included my discussions and lessons with 8th and 9th grade social studies classes and asking the students to close their books and simply brainstorm, connect and formulate new ideas in order to make sense of a new concept. We had engaging discussions about agriculture, farming and genetically modified organisms and the positives and negative repercussions that result from the development of new technology in this industry. Success, in my mind, was measured by bright eyes and focused attentions and the students that stopped me on my way out to ask my opinion on the matter. Days were also marked by competitive and fun games of soccer, basketball, badminton, or kickball that happened during the games period or conversations with the older girls about hobbies, dreams, interests and experiences.
One overwhelming sentiment I was left with was the feeling that the answer was always yes, to any sort of innovation, lesson plan, exercise or activity for the students. The future of the school is seemingly limitless, especially with the leadership that is constantly thinking big and challenging traditional notions of education. The positive energy of the students and their obvious love for the school and community is both exceptional and inspiring. I look forward to remaining a part of the continuous growing process and the community that is the FabIndia School.
Marika Viragh, a Columbus, Ohio native, is a 2013 graduate from Colorado College where she received a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. She was a volunteer at the school from January 6th to January 22nd, as part of her 5 month experience in India.