A little about yourself (origin, education, past work experiences)
I am Sudhir Kandasamy, 21, born and bought up in Chennai. As I believe that a proper education is crucial to one’s mental and emotional development, I was fortunate enough to have obtained quality education right from childhood. After my time at SBOA, I hopped on the bandwagon of pursuing an Engineering Degree, not too sure if it was my calling. While it took me some time to realize that engineering definitely was my field, I am thankful to my family for leading me in that direction when I was younger. Speaking of my family, I had an incredible childhood with loving p
arents and an over-protective intelligent sister (as most elder sisters are).
How did volunteering with Bhumi happen (including beginning, which project you volunteered for)?
I came to know about Bhumi through a friend and fellow volunteer, Sivakumar Selvaraj, and I wanted to give it a shot mostly because I had time on my hands to spare over the weekends. I initially wanted to join the Science Team because I felt more comfortable with their experiment-based teaching methods as compared to the theoretical book-based ones. However, the science centers were far from where I live and as a result, I had to take up LE-Math and I was mapped to STEPS Korattur. Looking back on that decision, I have no regrets as the way we teach Math is primarily activity-based.
What change did these experiences bring in your life? How has Bhumi altered you, personally?
Before Bhumi, I was not much of a children person. I never really had the chance to interact with children on a regular basis as we do at Bhumi. This interaction turned out to be a stress-buster. I would eagerly wait for the weekends to meet the children and spend two hours of quality time, educating them while having fun! On a personal front, my social-awareness has heightened and Bhumi has further emphasized the importance education especially in a child’s foundation years. Bhumi has also given me a sense of responsibility as teams are assigned roles and deadlines. The feeling of satisfaction that comes with meeting the deadlines always leaves us with a smile.
One most memorable incident in your life as a Bhumian.
There was this one time, in my center STEPS, where there was a warden change-over and the children were left lenient for a couple of weeks. And by all probabilities, I turned out to be the only volunteer who turned up in the center that week. The kids were all having a wonderful time going crazy without a warden. While I did try, I still couldn’t control them. Just then, this adorable little girl, Divya, from 2nd grade came up to me with a book in her hand and asked me to teach her, in spite of all the shouting and playing around. Puzzled, I asked her, “don’t you want to like play like them?” She replied, “We can play any time we want, but you come to teach here only twice a week and I didn’t want to miss that”. From that day forward, her words have been ringing in my mind and I believe that the motivation and will to learn has to be replicated in every child and adult alike.
Tell us about one Bhumian, who you think is a very good inspiration for you
YES! This is one part I would love mentioning! The one person who made me join Bhumi and was always around the corner whenever I needed help. He is Sivakumar Selvaraj. You can barely see him without a huge warm smile on his face. He has been the one friend I can rely on unconditionally. He’d present himself with a steady hand to offer whenever I need any help with Bhumi or my personal issues. Even though he wasn’t in my Math Team, I would constantly pester him for suggestions and questions to improve our programme. He never gets angry! I would say that he is a blessing – the best kind of best friend and fellow Bhumian one could ever ask for!
Any specific, special moment with kids or volunteers you would like to share with us?
When you go teach children on a weekly basis, they tend to bond with you. With time, the children start to feel more comfortable and they start playing with us. During such instances, you will find yourself at odds over making them study as they tend to use the closeness as a leeway to escape the studying. In my case, I had only been to the center, Avvai, a couple of times and talked to a few kids. While they were very interactive and engaging, they started calling me names and getting overly-candid after some warming up. One of the girls was annoyed and educated them, saying, “stop with the name-calling, can’t you see that he is human too?” From that moment, the girls went all silent. Soon after, they began co-operating and we had an effective session. That girl’s words even though small, felt special!
A message to every volunteer at Bhumi?
We, as Bhumians, have taken up this volunteering activity with the common goal of giving back to our society through providing quality education. It’s not just about teaching for a couple of days a week and seeing this as another weekly activity on your schedules. It is about taking up responsibilities! The more ideas we contribute to this, the more effective our teaching will be! We need to work as team to steer these young impressionable minds to impact to their thought and knowledge. Enjoy volunteering, keep smiling, and always keep sight of the bigger picture – of helping build a more influential, equal, and socially conscious society.