As we bid farewell to yet another year, let’s stop awhile. Let’s close our eyes and relive the moments gone, think about what we wished for and what we achieved. What we thought we’d do and what we did.
Did we stay true to ourselves? Did we make anyone happy? Did we weave new stories? Did we give world a chance?
A volunteer from Chennai did. This is his story.
To hopes. To dreams. To children. To new beginnings.
“On a late afternoon, just like any other day, the Good Life Center was abuzz with cheerful greetings and cheeky grins; little munchkins of children were running around, filling the air with an infectious enthusiasm. This was a special brand of enthusiasm-a kind of enthusiasm none of us can boast to have possessed in the face of an impending exam, which is exactly what awaited them at the time.
Curiously enough, it wasn’t the boisterous attitude one adopts when one has lost all hope; it was an anticipatory kind: the one that gives birth to the most wonderful butterflies in your stomach, paired with a nervous twitching of the limbs as one impatiently waits. This is precisely what these kids were feeling as they waited for Shikhen 3.0 to finally begin.
Cleverly devised with the intentions of gauging the progress of each and every student, Shikhen refers to an annual event at the Goodlife Center (Chennai), an event that the kids have come to appreciate and adore. Rather than simply going by an exhaustive list of questions which is to be corrected later, Shikhen aims at assessing the merit of the students in an engaging manner, and aims to go beyond the hackneyed principles of putting memory to test; Shikhen is a devise with which their kinetic, linguistic, observational and artistic abilities are measured as well. For instance, the ‘MAD Lab’(which saw it’s origins in Shikhen) focuses on conducting science experiments in front of their eyes, and making them note their inferences and observations, while simultaneously allowing them to remember it better.
The volunteers have begun to look forward to the event as well, for it allows them to look at their students and understand better how their mind functions.
However, the most delightful thing of all that one got to see during Shiken that day is the beautiful bond they share. They proceeded in the exam as a unit, which not only boosted the confidence of the children, but also motivates them to give it their best, their innocent faces often scrunched in concentration. The volunteers also went out of their way, patiently giving varied examples of the same question, so that the kid comprehended the entire concept before answering, giving away their determination to help the kids they love to succeed on their own with the slightest of pushes.
For Shrihari , this bond that he was attempting to capture in his camera, stirred his memory of a time when he was yearning for a considerate teacher, back when he was struggling to syllabify a few intricate words. Chancing upon a kid who was struggling with the same, he immediately stopped, put aside his camera and began to help him. The kid responded by surprising him – stopping him at the third question and hitting the bull’s eye confidently on his own.
Although initially having visited the Center to cover the project through photographs, it is this experience of his that perfectly exemplifies the spirit of Shikhen. To stop every once, take notes on how you’re doing, and use it to do better: this should be the very purpose of a test. No wonder these kids look forward to such a stress free, pure learning environment – filling us all with a strange wistfulness for our own school examinations to have played out a little differently!”