Alexis is a rising sophomore studying International Relations. Here’s an example of a typical day hard at work as a volunteer at AGN School!
Through my eight weeks, each day has offered a mix of surprise and routine. Little things sometimes go better or different than planned, however, there is some order to all the chaos.
8:00 AM: The sun is up and the roosters are crowing- quite literally if you open the kitchen window large enough. Give or take a couple snooze presses, for a Dosti volunteer, the morning begins around this hour.
8:30 AM: Unless we are getting dressed in our saris (which take quite an amount of time and safety pins for any beginner to assemble), I am usually out the door and off to the Mess hall to eat breakfast. The quick five minute walk across campus is a nice energizer as we see all the kids arriving from their school busses.
9:00 AM: Morning assembly has begun! Each day the students and staff assemble for their daily meditation and prayers. The aura of unity and serenity is breathtaking. Similarly, the entertaining skits and didactic performances set a good tone for the day.
9:30 AM: Classes have begun. A typical day teaching at the AGN or APPU classes is anything but typical. From teaching 4 and 5 year-olds in LKG rhymes and consonants to reviewing poetry analysis with teenagers in 10th standard, the only things that remain constant are the kids zeal for knowledge and infectious curiosity. One thing that will stay with me forever is how genuinely interested the kids are to learn. Some days, I found myself not even completing the intended lesson plans because I was sidetracked exploring the kids questions, or “doubts” as they refer to them.
11:00 AM: TEA BREAK! Coming back to Stanford, I will definitely have to talk to someone about incorporating chai breaks into the daily schedule… back to class!
1:00 PM: Time to see our friends Rasama and Master back in the canteen. Lunches are quick, but a good time to compress and see a different group of kids. Once again, back to class!
4:05 PM: ~ Caution: Flood Gates Opening~. Each day, following the final ‘ping’ of the school bell, there’s a distinct sound of approximately 2,000 pairs of feet shuffling down the stairways and out the hall to the playground and the busses. Some of the local kids from LKG to 8th standard stay after school voluntarily to play, but for 9-12th standard evening classes are mandatory. This means about 2/3rds of the campus leaves around now and the other third are either in class or at the playground.
4:25 PM: Quick chai and tiffin break to gather energy, then its game time. Volleyball, duck-duck-goose, cricket, badminton, hot potato, hop-skotch, skipping rope, football- it’s an intercultural affair as we exchange our favorite games and activities. This evening period has also been a great way to learn about the kids personal identities. In between sweating and laughing, our conversations go deeper into the kids aims and their ambitions.
6:00 PM: Another bell and it’s the saddest part of the day for me. One by one each of the busses peel out of the parking lot and campus is once again silent.
6:15 PM: The day is not over, but it’s time to start thinking about lesson plans for tomorrow. An hour or two of Pinterest scrolling and idea mapping later- voila- something is sketched out.
8:00 PM: Believe it or not this is considered an early dinner here in India. We usually arrive around the same time as the hostel boys, with the hostel girls following quickly behind. Lots of engaging conversation comparing American and Indian culture, and lots to teach and learn from the kids.
8:30 PM: Minutes after eating the boys insist on playing kabbadi (imagine wrestling but with less rules and more kicking).
9:00 PM: 13 hours of movement and things are starting to slow down. This is the time to reconnect with the world and relax. Feet up, bug spray on, Gossip Girl channeled, it’s time to decompress and prepare for another day.