We are currently raising money for the Elephant Village School. Please click here to donate and keep these brilliant students in school for another year. ANY amount, no matter how small, will make a difference and help these kiddos get the education they deserve!!!
At age 13, Aasifa is the oldest student at the Saarthak English Medium School in Jaipur’s Elephant Village. She is very confident and outgoing, making her a great role model for her female peers. She is eager to contribute in class and always willing to give her best shot at answering a question, even if she is not positive that her answer is correct. She brings a lot of positive energy into the class and helps make school more fun, for her peers and teachers alike. I love her enthusiasm, and she never fails to make me laugh. She aspires to be a teacher, and my dream for her is that she becomes a teacher in the Elephant Village, even if she just starts out as a teacher’s assistant or something of that sort.
Muskan was very quiet at the beginning of the year, but now she is good at speaking up and contributing to the class discussions. Her insight is always very helpful to her peers, and speaking up has really helped her build confidence and practice her English. She is very focused when she does her schoolwork, and she finishes it quickly but is still thorough in her work and doesn’t make careless mistakes from rushing. Before I started teaching at this school, my class had done very little with regard to reading in English. So I was quite surprised when I had Muskan read to me for the first time – not only is she good at pronunciation, but she can read remarkable quickly. Muskan is an incredibly sweet girl and a very dedicated student, and I’m very glad to have had her in my class.
Sahiba [in the pink scarf] is 12 years old, and the younger sister of Aasifa. She was definitely shyer at the beginning of the year than she is now, and I’m really glad that she has become so much more confident. I started working on phonetics with my students, which was a fairly new concept for them as most schools in India prefer learning via memorization. She was always excited about practicing phonics, even when she got stuck on a challenging word. I really appreciate her enthusiasm because it helps to motivate her peers and make it more fun for everyone. She has a great sense of humor, and I really loved teaching her.
Gulapsa is extraordinarily bright and learns very quickly. Her English is remarkable, and she can recall vocabulary very quickly. She is adept at memorization in general, especially with spelling. At only 11 years old, Gulapsa still learns faster than most of my peers in high school, and so I am confident that she would excel in a higher level of education. If she gets the help that she needs to obtain more opportunities in education, I know that she could do amazing things. Her dream is to become a doctor, and despite the many obstacles in her path, I honestly think that she could achieve her dream if she’s given a little outside assistance.
Soniya has made so much progress in the past three months – I can hardly believe it when I look back at how far she’s come! Her story is so remarkable that I am going to giver her her own blog post, but I will whet your appetite by saying that her transformation has been nothing short of miraculous, and I am so incredibly proud of her! Click here to read an article dedicated to Soniya’s story to learn more about this incredible young lady!
Sabana is very good at math, which is especially remarkable considering that she is the youngest in the class. She is also great at speaking up in class, and she is always willing to give her best shot at answering a question, even if she’s not 100% sure of her answer. She is very creative (especially when it comes to art!), and this really seems to help her think outside the box. She is also an amazing dancer, and this has really helped to give her confidence. Sabana is incredibly sweet and kind, and such a pleasure to teach.
Apsana [in the orange] is Gulapsa’s older sister, and she attended the school at the Elephant Village until part way through last year. We went to her house to interview her mother about why Apsana was no longer coming to school, and she gave a variety of reasons. At first her mother said that she needed help around the house, then she said that they were too poor, after which she said that Apsana was too old to be spending so much time outside of the house, and lastly she said that she was concerned about boys in some fashion. Clearly, the mother’s reasoning is complicated and heavily influenced by cultural traditions, but all of us at school hope that Apsana can come back again. She joined us for our end-of-stay picnic, and I was amazed by how much she had retained from school. She could read surprisingly well, and her English was quite good.
Mustakeem, Sahil and Aslam
Mustakeem [right] is a highly motivated and quite smart. He excels in every subject and is very confident in his abilities. He is always very eager to contribute in class, and was the first student in his class to learn to read. Sahil [center] loves to sing and dance, and is very energetic. He is a little insecure about his academic abilities, but he always lights up when he gets something right. He never learned to read Hindi at home, but since coming to school he has been able to start learning how to read in his native language. Aslam [left] is quite smart and learns incredibly quickly. He is a little shy, so he sometimes needs a little extra push to participate, but he really enjoys helping his peers.
Sahil and Mafia
Sahil [bottom right] is tremendously bright and picks up on new math concepts very quickly. He is remarkably mature for his age and is good at looking at the big picture. Also, he’s an amazing dancer and will definitely be Bollywood’s next big star! His sister Mafia [far left] was very shy at the beginning of the year, and never raised her hand or wanted to stand in front of the class. It seems that the mindset of submissive femininity had been forced upon her, but through school she made great strides in shrugging this off. Now she frequently raises her hand, enjoys answering questions in class, and is no longer afraid of presenting in front of her class. She’s also very excited to learn, and her cursive handwriting is stunning.
This Muskan is a total sweetheart, although a little mischievous at times. Sometimes when she can’t think of the answer, she’ll close her eyes and scrunch up her face, as if she’s waiting for the answer to pop into her head. And when she realizes that she’s made a silly mistake, she smacks herself in the forehead with her palm, which is so cute than even some of us in the WorldStamp program have started doing it on occasion. Muskan picked up on phonics and reading unbelievably quickly, and she is a very earnest student. Also a fun, random fact: Muskan means “smile” in Hindi, which is very fitting for this little girl. There are actually five girls at school with this name!
Nadeem has made incredible progress these past three months; he went from not being able to recognize lowercase letters to reading simple sentences! He is very responsible and caring – the dad of the class, if you will. He is good at keeping his peers focused, and likes to help handout worksheets or assist the teacher in any way that he can. He is very mature and a total sweetheart!
For the first month, Tamanna refused to leave her sister’s side and would cry continuously if someone made her sit in class. Eventually, though, she began to sit quietly in class, although she was still very shy. Gradually she started to participate, and ended up being one of the best three-year-old students. She tried hard to do her worksheets, and learned to write several letters. Her English also improved a lot, and she loved to say to me “Good morning Ma’am” and “Thank you Ann,” among a few other phrases. Also, she is really stinking cute!
P.S. We are currently doing the annual fundraiser to keep this school open for another year! Please click here to donate to this amazing cause and help my beloved students stay in school. Any amount makes a difference! Thank you!!!