I am a Fellow with Teach for India, spreading joy to and sharing woes with 33 gracious kids belonging to Grade 7 and 8 housing at Lallubhai Compound, a “vertical slum” in the Govandi area of Mumbai, India.
Coming from a melting pot of backgrounds of Computer Science, Consulting and Art Direction, I found my luxury in teaching these beautiful beings.
In the classroom, I strive for an excellent educational ethos for my kids. While textual knowledge serves as a base to excellence, I intend to bring much more to their lives; I swear by ‘learning by doing‘.
Something that took me aback on the first day of my visit to the community is the amount of insensitivity towards societal disorders, especially from the kids. They are too used to the violence in and around their homes to consider it unnatural.
And I was sure, this is not how the story of my kids will be read.
So, I began focusing more on values than a bunch of formulae and story-tell episodes exhibiting a variety of mindsets more than dictating of notes. Moreover, I hate to latch my kids indoors when it comes to learning, and we often camp out for a lesson or two, for exposure and access.
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have ‘chosen’ this path.
All these words written to each of you, give me immense joy in announcing the flag off my baby project, Design a Smile…
This project (DAS) got its name long back when I decided to quit a full-time concrete jungle job at Deloitte and joined a TEDx Global team. I almost cannot believe that this project has reached its curation and is ready to be funded.
My vision for these kids is that, they will make informed decision at any stage of their lives.
While this seems to be an ordinary statement for any of us, it looks quite the opposite and goes on to become a statement of hope for my kids, if you think about where they’re coming from. When you are welcomed in your community with threats and subjected to constant motivation to quit school, you know what a courageously taken step can do for you.
We are undertaking the Project Based Learning (PBL) framework while working towards this vision and under the DAS project, my kids will execute the following projects, besides PBS aligned to their curriculum:
- Humans of Lallubhai Compound– A weekly project based on ‘Humans of New York’ to learn ‘People Photography’, respect community and have the courage to see lives beyond mundane experiences so as to understand how biases effect us while making a choice.
- Vamos!– A weekly project to learn Spanish language and culture so as to respect various forms of traditions that may exist elsewhere and understand how information that we may otherwise overlook effects the decisions we make.
- Rendezvous– A monthly project that helps my kids connect with people belonging to various professions and walks of life in order to be develop a quest for as many fields as they can before making an informed career choice.
And I need your help.
Besides logistics and (a lot of) stationery, I need finances for educational resources, classroom amenities and field trips.
Through your contributions, at the end of my two years, I would not only have helped 33 kids reach their reading levels and solve grade-level Math problems but also grown in them a resolution to achieve their dreams, instilled in them a faith in their own community and planted a seed of hope to live a better life.
33 is a small number, and I do not disagree. But, this small tweak of fixing educational inequity is leading all of us towards a big change. And one day, all the children across the globe will receive an excellent education.
Did I forget to mention the perks involved?
While I really cannot afford to buy you a return gift, I promise you letters and pictures from my kids, those of gratefulness and of reports as to how your valuable contribution is being harnessed.
Are there any other way in which you could help me out?
Of course, yes! You can write to me and we will see what we can do together towards Ed Equity. May be, you could bring your own strengths to my classroom. Feel free to ask as many questions and/or give suggestions through mails at email@example.com.
Hoping to design many smiles with you, and helping my kids design a few more than all of us.
Love and Light,
[Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org]