I teach English to 18 girls and 2 boys under eleven. It is awesome to watch my plans hatch and grow as I instruct my receptive pupils in various adventures. I spend an hour or so everyday brainstorming how to fill their heads with English using only my small Hindi vernacular to assist me. I dramatize my stories and mime most of our vocab words, but for 'beautiful' all I need say is the name of the Hindi teacher, Usha. I was particularly amused when one child incorrectly labelled the illustration of teacher as 'beautiful' on a classroom objects test weeks later.
From Jen's class I heard another charming story. Jen and I have both been struggling to have our names pronounced correctly. She has mostly corrected locals from calling her John, but when one day she used herself as an example in a lesson, there was ferocious objection to her spelling. 'Jen' suffers from being very similar go the common last name and caste, 'Jain.' Her students were adamant that she'd spelt her own 3 (or 4) letter name wrong. After previously defending the incorrect spelling of 'tomorrow,' she had lost her spelling cred and was nearly forced to submit to this new identity. Fortunately there is one goat in town that has eerily perfected the pronunciation of Jen. The goat often tricks her into thinking someone is calling her when it repeatedly bleats 'Jen.'
On Saturdays all the girls come together and we teach them a special interest topic. With the diversity of English abilities, I find these the most intimidating to plan; however they have also been the most rewarding. We've learnt about phalanges and resuscitation through colorful life size tracing of our body systems and treating imaginary injuries. We've travelled through the western calendar year to celebrate Christmas, have it stolen by the Grinch, only for the Easter Bunny to return the gifts after trick-or-treating and carving a desert melon.
The best was the magical Sambhali Trust Talent Show that we hosted in an long room above the school. Enormous windows without glass invited sunshine into the space which we had draped in blankets and old saris. The children of all castes came together to show off traditional twirling Rajasthani dancing, recitation of Hindi poems, yoga-style push ups, and clapping the English preposition song I had made up. The highlight was a 5 year old boy, Moolchandra, leading everyone in a repeat-after-me English rendition of the 'P for peacock' alphabet; belted out from on top of the table-made-stage we placed him on.