< U.P. Blog

Mumbai Day One

LettersFrom IndiaLate last night we landed in Bombay and this morning I awoke to realize I have completely lost my voice. Blaim it on transcontinental migration, from shivering cold snowstorm to sun-drenched seaside…or perhaps an overdose of that Goan specialty, Feni. whatever the case, I am now mute as a mule.
The first day in Bombay was action packed nevertheless. We set out for Akanksha to be welcomed by an enthusisatic and excited staff. I hadn’t seen Shaheen (Akanskha’s founder) and Vandana (the director of the School Project) in over a year, when I met them in New York, where I had first told them about my Uniform Project plans to aid their cause. Today, 8 months into the wearathon, $50,000+ later, it was a joyful reunion from all sides.
The highlight of the day was certainly the afternoon class we sat in on at the St. Xavier’s center, where Shaheen was doing a special workshop on the ‘Gives’ and ‘Gets’ of the world. The approach to teaching immediately struck me as light years ahead of what I had experienced when I was a public school kid in southern India. The focus here was steeped in analytical thinking and the development of coherent reading skills as opposed to the typical regurgatation of random dates, names, factoids and formulas that I was taught with as an adolescent. Perhaps not so unusual, you might say, if you come from a good school in a relatively progressive country. But what struck me as singular and revolutionary about Akanksha’s approach was how the teachers framed their lessons within a contextual framework unique to the environments these kids were living in, and how they used this method as a catalyst to strengthen the kids’ social and moral codes, where social position could be viewed as an advanatge rather than a burden. From this vantage point, it was more than evident that these kids, while underprivilged, were anything but victims and that the goings on in an Akanksha classroom were a cause for celebration. Celebration of spirit, of talent and of a bond that is undoubtedly akin to that of a surrogate family.


ModLife » Blog Archive » The Uniform Project says:
[...] proceeds from the Uniform Project are going to the progressive Indian school Akanksha. What was your trip there like? [The kids] were really excited to meet me. They already knew about [...]
2010-04-30 13:01:40
Radhika says:
Having been a Teach India volunteer for Akanksha in Pune, it feels great to see your effort in the direction of helping these kids. Good job! :)
2010-01-14 07:16:34
ammakke says:
OMG!! Felt so proud & thankful about the awesome U.P.Project helping such a wonderful organization called THE AKANSHA & it is so inspiring & challenging their teaching methods..I particularly was touched by the slogan on that boy's T shirt"BE THE CHANGE"..Yes, we do need to be changed in every way!! All the best U.P& Akansha!
2010-01-12 14:45:24
Ann Marie says:
How great to see the fruits of all your hard work! I am glad to see you there. I am sure the students can look to you as a role model and mentor! Congrats and thank you for all your hard work! You have become quite the role model for us too!
2010-01-12 12:06:50
Daniel Timothy Edmundson says:
come to south india! there's a girl's school here that knows your story and would love to meet you!
2010-01-12 01:10:15
Kathryn says:
Terrific update and a welcome change of pace from lamenting marginalized victims who allegedly have no agency. It's exciting to see how these kids can be empowered. When you get a chance, take a look at Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I think that you'll get a lot out of it.
2010-01-11 19:53:01
Sharon says:
I love the purple shirt's slogan "Be the Change" how potent and powerful.
2010-01-11 19:00:39
Sharon says:
I am so excited to read about the school and lessons. I am a middle school teacher and I too believe in framing what you are teaching to a child's reality, because then it is "real" and useful in their opinion. Wish I could be there! Your photos and updates are great. I will be sharing them with my students.
2010-01-11 18:59:19
scary. says:
nice post sista, coincidentally i woke with no voice today either. pure annoyin whispering away here. agh!
2010-01-11 18:36:08
Wendie says:
Thank you for the update, especially on the lessons the classes are learning & how the wonderful teachers are meeting the needs of this unique group of children! I'm a former teacher myself, in an underprivileged area, and always love to hear how teachers meet the needs of diverse or different groups of children. How exciting this must be to see it firsthand! Can't wait for more updates! Thank you for all you (and Akanksha) are doing!
2010-01-11 17:31:56