Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day One

Finally, after two months, we led our first Youth Empowerment class on Thursday. We accomplished the main goal of the first meeting, which was to have fun with the students and for them to get comfortable with us and with speaking English. But we have a lot of work to do from here. The students' English is about the level I expected, which is to say not as high as I hoped. After the class Liza and I made some immediate adjustments to our plans. Our job is made easier by the fact that the Social Awareness Program is already tackling local issues and it is comforting to know that our students will be engaged in analytical discussions regarding these issues in their native language outside the classroom. We will focus on the tangible skills of photography, computers, internet, and the construction of a digital story. The leadership activities, which cover confidence-building, teamwork, communication styles, public speaking, etc. will be executed in the form of simple and fun games and activities at the beginning of each class. English skills will be developed during class discussions, writing the script to the digital story, and online blog conversations with other students involved in Bridges to Understanding. In this fashion we will cover listening, speaking, writing, and reading skills while providing the students with an English vocabulary to match their activities in the Social Awareness Program (SAP). There is also preliminary talk of our students giving biweekly presentations at the SAP meetings. Additionally, we could even have the students create two versions of their digital story, one with English narration and one with Telugu. This would be especially useful when it comes time to present their movie to their families and the villagers, most of whom do not speak English. The other benefit of working alongside SAP is that when it comes time for our students to develop an activity or project in response to the issue they have studied, they will have a group of enthused and socially aware students and teachers ready to be mobilised! For now, Liza and I need to break down the intentions of our program into clear, simple ideas and the most basic goals and build up from there.

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