Let me tell you a story, akka.

The doors and windows of all the buildings in Chennai were rattling because of severe and much anticipated thunderstorms. There I was, clamoring around the street in pursuit of an auto-rickshaw. Amidst all this confusion, Shruthi, my fellow Edu-Cater/Treasure Trove volunteer, called me up. Hey, where are you? I have reached Beach station. Whoa. I was running late for my Saturday errand as a volunteer, and Voila! I finally caught an Uber taxi to reach my destination — Sri Sathya Sai Mat. Hr. Sec. School, Tiruvottriyur.

After months of planning over coffee and biscuits, collecting books, sorting each book, and opening our own first mini-library at this school- Project Treasure Trove finally became a reality. We planned to visit the children and conduct reading sessions for the children during the 1st, 3rd and final Saturdays of every month to plant the habit of reading and to channelize their thought process.

We have had a couple of successful reading and storytelling sessions, where we had the children listen to a story by Pratham Books — The Boy and The Drum, to celebrate the joy of giving and kindness. BUT, today’s session was very unexpectedly different. Why so???? Here goes…

CUT-SCENE 1- Prelude

By the time I reached the school, it was heavily pouring with slippery water clogs everywhere on the road, but the session was already active, thanks to my fellow volunteers Shruthi, Vivek and Arihant. They had already summarized the gist of the The Boy and The Drum story to a bunch of 36 ever-vibrant and smiling Class V girls, had asked them to form smaller groups and come up with their own version of the story and enact it to the rest of us. The kids flabbergasted us with their eidetic memory about our team. They were able to identify us and asked about those volunteers who weren’t present today. We thought, the best is yet to come, and it did come.

CUT-SCENE 2- The act

Roughly around 15–20 minutes into the session, the kids were ready to enact their version of The Boy and The Drum story. Post the discussions and rehearsals, each team came forward to the centre of the room and started introducing each of them. ‘Sairam, I am Divya. My role in this story, is a shopkeeper’.

There was a director in each group that prompted the dialogues to the rest of the members in that team, in case if they have forgotten what to say next. With much conviction in their script and concept, each team came forward to voice their mind. Each and every child perfected her role with excitement and a little nervousness. At the end of each skit, the teams trumpeted their idea to the rest of them synchronously.

The Real Surprise

Little did we know that the children would expect us with the same excitement and enthusiasm, even if it was raining like crazy. They were eagerly looking forward to having the session with us, it was so evident as the energy level of these kids was 100% throughout the session.

One other interesting thing about today’s storytelling session, was that the children used props in their mini-skit. Apart from the regular gestures and imaginary props, the teams tried to use a slab for drum, a paper for money, a stick for fruit, etc. Each team had a music teacher role-player, who literally sang songs(as their role called for it), and THAT kept the entire audience dumbfounded and engaged. As each and every team finished their play, the others shook hands with and clapped for their peers.

The Climax

Children of this school have redeeming qualities, like — maintaining decorum, listening carefully to what others say, clap for their peers. I think THIS is the base for them to become an impeccable team player in the future. It was a delight to watch the kids enacting the story with little or no reluctance. These kids are really game for any kind of challenge. Fine tuning the capabilities of these children will take them places. I am really happy that Treasure Trove is igniting the habit of reading in the minds of an otherwise dexterous bunch of children.

As I was preparing to leave, one kid, Akshaya, came forward and asked me — Photo akka, last week why you no come? — Yes they try their best to converse in English. Then I thought, Lekha Y U NO try to go to the session every planned Saturday?

The monsoon thought that it could play spoilsport through its heavy downpours, but our kids’ energy level and unconditional interest in our project patronized the rains per se.

Thank you, Edu-Cater, for making my Saturdays as exciting as today’s session! I truly look forward to having more such sessions with all my fellow volunteers in the near future. Thanks guys!

We are Team Edu-Cater — An initiative to encourage innovative methods of teaching! :)

Originally published at freethinkerlek21.blogspot.in on November 13, 2015.

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