Volunteer Den – Lavanya Jagannathan

Lavanya JHow did you come to know about Bhumi? and what made you become a part?
Bhumi just happened to me! I wasn’t exactly looking out for volunteering opportunities. My friend had signed up for Nakshatra (Siragugal, back then) and used to constantly share her experiences with me. What she shared made me want to volunteer. So, I decided to give it a try. And here I am 😀

Why Speak Out? Also, tell us about the change you see in the project/ fellow volunteers from the day you first started and today.
Children from Non-English medium schools look at English as a subject that they have to learn to pass. They don’t look at it as a tool that can aid their communication skills. SO aims at changing this perception and I strongly believe that every child must be given the opportunity and resources to learn the language. I’ve seen the project evolve over the past two and a half years. We have experimented a lot with the syllabus, learnt a lot. It’s a lot more structured. And I think we’re going the right way.
3. What were the initial challenges you faced as a volunteer and how did you overcome them?
I vividly remember my first day. I was super nervous. I had to handle a bunch of 12, 6th std kids all alone. And I had absolutely no previous experience with kids. I didn’t know what to expect. But to my surprise, the kids were trying so hard to make me feel comfortable. They were very friendly and were super excited to get to know a new akka 🙂

There were a lot of challenges initially. My class kids would be completely out of control. There have been times when at the end of the class there would be only 5 out of the 12 kids sitting with me. I understood that the problem was with the way I was handling the class. I started incorporating games, activities to get them interested. It wasn’t easy, but with time, I learnt the knack of handling a big bunch of kids.

But, every bunch is different. Every year is a challenge!

Any specific, special moment with kids or volunteers you would like to share with us?
I can just go on and on about special moments with the kids. Something as simple as a kid being able to differentiate between ‘b’ and ‘d’ gives me so much happiness.

I’ve had a couple of kids calling me up during summer, just to keep me informed about how they’ve performed in their exams.

Last year, I did not attend the last class of the academic year. Apparently my class kids were asking my co-volunteers why I hadn’t come. My co-volunteers recorded a video with their messages and sent it over to me. A very simple gesture, it just made my day 😀

Tell us about one Bhumian, who you think is a very good inspiration for you.
I really can’t pick just one person. Over the years, there have been so many people who have inspired me, encouraged me to do more.
Every single Bhumian is an inspiration. We’re all here, working towards achieving a common goal.

A note about your personal front (education, job, hobbies, passion etc)
I completed my undergrad in Biomedical Engineering from SSN and recently started working. I love the beach! I love music. And I have this compulsive need to watch new films within the first week of release 😛

A special message to your fellow volunteers.
Bhumi will groom you as a person, it will give you inner peace. You’ll learn so much more than what you teach. Enjoy every moment and love what you do! 🙂

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