Asha Deep has been blessed to have had the help of many volunteers over the years. In 2007 we had our first long-term volunteer, Mahima, an American woman who helped teach English to several classes for a year. In the same year a Swiss woman, Rosie, helped with fundraising and developing the school’s first brochure. We’ve had volunteers come from several different countries for periods ranging from a few hours to two years. They’ve come from all over the world including Korea, Canada, The Netherlands, Spain, Australia, the UK, Singapore, and more. They’ve helped kids practice reading, taught computer skills, designed a database, played games with our students, taught dance, taught guitar, taught photography, taken photographs, created a video, built a treehouse, repaired our fence, done storytelling, organized the library, painted backdrops or built props for our drama presentations, made presentations (on music, on the environment, on being confident), taught karate, supervised arts and crafts sessions, done teacher training, helped with social media posts. Several people have come with Performers Without Borders (www.pwb.org) to teach our students circus skills, clowning, and dance.
Our school is much richer because of the involvement of so many who have brought new perspectives, new skills, and a lot of joy to our school. Most of our students’ whole lives have been lived in a two kilometer square area. They get around by foot and have not even had the opportunity to travel across town, let alone out of our city. They almost exclusively associate with people who are just like them. Their exposure to people from all over the world at Asha Deep is their primary avenue for understanding that there are other cultures, other climates, other languages, and other ways to live and make sense of life.
This year we have a new volunteer, Andrew VanDuinen from the US. Having recently obtained a master's degree in social work from the local Banaras Hindu University,
There are so many stories I could tell, but here are some snapshots of some of the volunteers that were with us in 2019-2020.
Rani! Returning for a second volunteer stint with us, Rani taught English grammar in 7th and 8th grade, but her primary role was that of director of Masti ki Pathshala (Cool School), our after-school program. It's no easy task arranging for and keeping in contact with the variety of teachers that we need to make this program a success.But Rani did a great job this year making sure that our classes, including Zumba dance, mehendi design, guitar, a beautician course, craft, photography, storytelling and games, happened.
Bailey! In addition to helping Rani with the after-school program, Bailey, from the US, had a full-time schedule teaching English in grades 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8.She was a dedicated and caring teacher, going the extra mile to come up with creative ways for our students to learn what is for them a third language.She enjoyed being with the children, especially out of the classroom where she could encourage them on a personal level. Her smile brightened up our school!
Dorothy! At an age when most people are slowing down, Dorothy flew to India (her first time in our country) and started her year with Asha Deep. She managed being here incredibly well, navigating a very different culture, language, and food. At school she jumped right in as our librarian. She got busy cleaning and repairing books as well as updating our book catalog. She managed to get funding not only for the purchase of several hundred new books, but also for badly needed new library shelves.She instituted a new book basket system which makes sure that each classroom has a basket of books for students to read whenever they have a bit of free time.The students loved it . . .
and they started reading a lot more! They also loved "Nani" (Granny) because she came into their classes and read them stories. On top of that, she gave each child a bundle of love.Besides her work at school, she also took on the evening responsibility of tutoring a few of our graduate students as they prepared for upcoming 10th and 12th class exams. Her upbeat attitude and incredible work ethic pushed us all to do just a little bit better.
Donna! Donna accompanied Dorothy on the long flight to India. She spent a month with us helping Dorothy organize the library. She also did a great job teaching English writing to our 7th graders.
Nicola and Lawrie! This British couple wanted to combine travel with service and asked if they might help out in our school during their time in Varanasi. We said, “Sure!” During their month in our city, Nicola joined in classroom story & craft times. Lawrie found an online site by which he created several custom wordsearch and crossword puzzles for our English teachers to use in teaching chapter-related vocabulary. He also continued the work started by Donna, going in to 7th class each day to teach English composition. It was a real treat to have them at Asha Deep.In addition to making a real and lasting contribution, they brought joy and enthusiasm to our days!