Emile, English teacher in Civic Service for nursery classes at Shanti School from September 2017 to August 2018
My name is Emile, I went on civic service as an English teacher at SEVAI Shanti School. I arrived in September 2017, having recently obtained an English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teacher training, I was looking for a work experience in the teaching and the mission offered by Objectif France-Inde (OFI). seemed perfect to me. I also really wanted to discover India, which I knew to be a fascinating country. The school is in a very remote and very rural location in Tamil Nadu, a hot and dry state in southern India. But that didn't scare me… anyway, that's what I said in the interview, of course.
The truth is that spending a year completely immersed in a foreign culture is a bit scary, especially in this case where the immersion is total.
Finally, the remote aspect affected me little; in India, it is very difficult to feel cut off from the world, in the sense that there are people everywhere. I live and work in a school with 2,000 students, in a 'village' of ten thousand people near a city of a million.
I also had the chance to be easily integrated fully into the local community, as well as within the school. Tamils are very sociable and came easily to talk to me, invite me to eat at their place or to visit the surroundings. They also have a great sense of humor, love to laugh, tell stories, and even make fun, always kindly. It made me feel very comfortable and created a sense of belonging to this community which I think will follow me long after I am gone.
The mission assigned to me by OFI was to give engaging and fun English lessons to kindergarten children, as well as to promote an education promoting more understanding and less memorization. So I arrived at Shanti School full of ideas: visions of crafts and plastic arts, decorating the school with the classes, gardening, reading stories with attentive children sitting around me, all with dramatic improvement. their level of English. Reality hit me hard when I got to school. Kindergarten students are in classes of forty, and the lessons seemed to consist mainly of oral repetition and written copying to memorize and learn to write, all kept in order by very strict discipline. The courses I used to prepare were unsuitable for these conditions, and many of my ideas could be put aside.
In addition to this, you need to know more about it.
Since June, I have resumed lessons on the same model as last year, with the new students of UKG, who are just 4 years old and are progressing very quickly. I dread when I will have to say goodbye to them in 30 days, and to all the friends that I have become very close to during this year. Of course, I will also be happy to find my family and friends in France. I especially feel a lot of gratitude towards OFI for allowing me to live this experience, and for their support throughout the mission; and to SEVAI who welcomed me so well.