In 2008 when I was studying in my first year of Bachelors in IR, I got my first student. His name was Aditya and he was 5 years old. His parents told me that he was having difficulty in understanding anything that was being taught in the school. I thought he was not interested in studies so I thought of just spending a nice time with him for a few days and then starting.
In those few days I came to know that it was not that he was not willing to study. He was having problems in understanding the alphabets, reading and writing. It was my first challenge in life and I didn’t have any clue how to deal with it. I started with drawing pictures and using a lot of bright colours. I kept doing it for a month. It seemed to work. He started understanding the alphabets by drawing them gradually. I did the same with the words and numbers. After a few more months he started recognizing the words by drawing them. I made him listen to their audio pronunciations and it helped. I told him to count chocolates as he loved them a lot! On weekends we would go out to play cricket and while playing I would ask him how many times did he hit the fours and he would gladly answer without knowing he had actually counted them. By the end of the year he was a child who knew how to read and write using letters and numbers.
After meeting Aditya I realized this is what i want to do! I wanted to be around the children who were facing difficulties like this and wanted to help!
Fortunately my aspirations brought me to encounter the HOLE IN THE WALL Project. I came to know about SCHOOL IN THE CLOUD website and applied for the job of the Facilitator in one of its labs at GOCHARAN, West Bengal, India. The first thing that came to my mind was Aditya! Because here also I would not know how to deal with the situation and what the challenges would be coming. I would have to work them out!
I worked there for one and a half year under the guidance of Suneeta Kulkarni, the Research Director of the project. She was a real friend and guided me throughout my journey. I came to know about the idea of self-organised learning environment where children use technology and try to learn on their own through computers. It was like watching lots of beautiful butterflies changing and growing on their own.
I felt strong and lively as a motivator in their presence. This was my second challenge as my work was not to teach but to inspire them towards the right way. I had to learn to find the ways of engaging them in searching. Sometimes I would crave to tell them the right answer and then in the next moment control myself and think about how to make them sort it out on their own.
I learned how to organise granny sessions and SOLE based BIG QUESTION sessions. I saw the difficulties which were faced by the grannies everyday. Be it a connectivity problem, language problem or anything else, irrespective of any difficulties they would buckle up their strength next day and start with a BIG SMILE again. The grannies taught me how to laugh through every difficulty of my life and carry on no matter what. Unfortunately due to my health issues, I had to leave my wonderful job.
It is then that I decided to apply to be a cloud Granny. I always wanted to experience what is it really like to be on the other side in the GRANNY SESSION ROOM! I do not know if I will be able to become a good cloud granny but I believe I can help to make a difference. If I get to share my vision with this organisation and learn to discover myself as a granny I think it will be one of the best life changing achievements for me to remember in future.