Volunteering – Let the training begin!

{This piece is a continuation of the post “Volunteer! Volunteer! Volunteer!”}

And so the journey to a place I had never heard of before began. Me and a school friend of mine, Radhika, boarded the train at Haridwar on the evening of the 26th and arrived the next day around 1 pm at Jais railway station. We stepped out of the station to a rather sunny place, and were immediately accosted by a couple of auto and tanga (horse-driven cart) drivers. So of course our curiosity naturally piked, we chose the tanga, and like all touristy things, took a couple of pictures sitting on it. It was definitely a novel experience. The driver, a very talkative man, soon filled the tanga with what I personally think was too many passengers for the poor horse to carry, but the obedient horse nevertheless persisted. All through the journey he kept relating to the other passengers how he had ‘rescued’ us from the hands of an auto-driver who was about to take us to the wrong place and how he will drop us off at the right center. And everyone listened attentively. I was amused and couldn’t help grinning throughout, and also a bit worried that I might fall off any moment. Looking back now, I think two girls dressed in jeans and a kurta (yes, we wore kurtas because it was the prescribed dress code), and travelling alone might have been an object of curiosity for everyone present.

Radhika – Stop taking pictures of me 😛

Very soon, we were deposited off at the gates of a building, and after having signed our names in the register with the security guard, we made our way straight into a building to which we were directed. It had around 18 beds, all of which were empty. In a few minutes we realized we were in the wrong room, and made our way to another building, smaller, directly behind the one we had first entered and discovered this was to be our allotted dorm for the duration of the 4 day training. Thankfully, we found a bit of company, there were two girls who were fast friends from Lucknow, and one from Gaziabad, all of them had come as counselors. As the time passed, we washed up, made more friends and discovered that the previous room we had walked into was allocated to the co-counselors. In the evening, we sat outside on the grass along with some co-counselors and passed time singing songs and just talking. More girls came, we made more friends, and I must say, spent the first night there in high spirits, playing charades late into the night. I was glad to have found such friendly people here.



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The next day dawned, and the first day of training began. We had two representatives from Voice4Girls who were to train and oversee the whole thing, Ms. Pratibha and Ms. Vandana. We were given our counselor manuals and handbooks and were acquainted with the teaching pattern. Unlike a normal classroom, the teaching method varied here and focused on activity-based learning rather than theoretical knowledge. Each activity conducted, had a moral and an ultimate goal, which taught the girls something about leadership, decision making, planning and organizing. Then we were also familiarized with the way a class is to be conducted, certain rules we stick to, how to grab attention when the class is restless, the way to start a class, and lots of other things. It was definitely an interesting methodology, one that I believe should definitely be adopted in more classrooms.

Our four days ended soon, and we were left quite in suspense over what place we’d get allotted. And when we finally were, there were a few disappointments and a few sighs of relief. Radhika got assigned to Varnasi as a lone counselor there while I got assigned to Jais itself, along with Shikha, the girl from Gaziabad. We were lucky perhaps; we ended up having the next day off, while everyone else took the day to travel to their places. And soon we got well acquainted with our co-counselors too. They were a most wonderful lot of girls, always up to some fun or the other, never a dull moment with them. We still are in contact with each other, just to know what the other has been up to, and it’s a joy speaking to these girls.


Because Shikha and snapchat!

On our day off, we had lots to do, charts to prepare and hang, discuss the next day’s lessons with our co-counselors, teach them first, organize the activities as to who will speak what and all in all get ready for the class next day. We would have to toughen up and work hard for the first camp (the first 7 days), until we can familiarize ourselves with the lessons and take it a bit easier for the next camp. Shikha was a wonderful and fun person to stay with, I really enjoyed the time I spent talking to her or just lazing around or even simply complaining in frustration. And we became fast friends with our co-counselors too, a mischievous bunch of girls, enjoying their friendship and time spent here.

Now that I look back, I am grateful for the memories, we had fun, we had our ups and downs, moments of relief and joy and our moments of frustrations when we didn’t know what to do, but then ultimately, everything turned out to be okay, as it always does in the end.

And now I realize this has become quite a long post, I shall refrain from writing more on this one and publish one last one about the camp and teaching.

Until next time then, cheers!

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