My Experience With Poornodaya Vidyanikethan – Travel, Volunteer, Teach and Learn
As I toured South India, I planned to volunteer with Poornodaya Vidyanikethan and enhance the whole traveling experience.
I had read about Poornodaya on Worldpackers around 4 months before I even thought of my South India tour.
Why did I decide to volunteer with Poornodaya?
The first and foremost thing that caught my attention was the ideology behind the institute. The way the institute tried to impart knowledge resonated with my idea of education, which is why I decided to be a part of this family and contribute in whatever way I could.
We are in a continuous process of learning and unlearning. And as we grow older, this process gets slower, and it becomes even more difficult to amend our habits, thoughts, and actions!
With the above statement, I want to emphasize that education is not a one-time thing. It becomes a part of our life from the moment we are born to the moment we die.
What is Poornodaya Vidyanikethan?
Poornodaya Vidyanikethan is a school in the town of Kurvilangad in Kerala. But it is not just a "school" where kids go to attend a few classes and take homework with a focus on becoming well-read. It is a little more than that, a place for education, not only for kids but everyone else who is a part of it, be it, teachers, parents, helping staff, or volunteers. In Anish's (the Director of Poornodaya) words, Poornodaya is and strives to be an extended home, and an extended family, where everyone feels more comfortable and freer.
We as a society give a lot of importance to good grades in school, a good position professionally, and a sound bank balance. Sometimes in an effort to achieve all this, we tend to forget the basic ethics and shut down our curious minds, kill our creativity, forget to respect our environment, as well as our fellow beings!
As an institute, Poornodaya Vidyanikethan tries to instill these learnings in the kids as well as the elders.
How is Poornodaya contributing to the society?
Educate the future generations of the country
Our home is our first School!
As kids, we learn what we observe at our homes, and our actions are mostly governed by what we observe. A school becomes our second step in the learning process. As part of the Poornodaya program, they make sure that kids get the right kind of education. It tries to align the things that the kids learn in school, with what they learn at their homes and vice versa.
The process of education at Poornodaya does not only focus on grades but follows a more holistic approach to it. Along with intellectual development, the institute tries to develop the social, physical, creative, and spiritual aspects of the kid.
As part of this holistic approach, Poornodaya tries to make the kids more tolerant of the differences between individuals, be it their personality traits, or societal identities.
Introduce creative ways to make learning fun and easy
At Poornodaya, they try to make sure that learning is done right, but not in dull old ways of reading from textbooks and gulping it down. Instead, it focuses on including more and more creative ways, so that the kids enjoy their time in school and are eager to learn more.
I remember an incident narrated by one of the teachers in the school.
There was a kid who was finding it difficult to learn and write the alphabet. But that kid seemed to enjoy colors and drawing, and was actually good at it.
The teachers tried to use the strength of that kid, and work on its weakness.
So instead of making that kid write alphabet over and over again till it stuck in its head, the teachers made that kid draw that alphabet on a big drawing sheet. With its creative cells triggered, the kid was not only able to enjoy the activity but was eventually able to learn the alphabet.
Most of the times, we make the kids write and re-write or read and re-read something until that thing sticks to their mind. But we rarely use creative ways, that are playful and joyful to help them learn.
And in this creative process of teaching, the kids start to learn with ease as part of the activity that they are enjoying.
Provide a platform for knowledge and culture exchange
The institute invites volunteers from all around the world that work with kids (teach language or any other activity, or play with them). These volunteers also assist in training teachers and working with them to develop more creative ways to make learning easy and more fun.
This kind of environment helps the kids, their teachers, and parents to be more tolerant and welcoming to different cultures, languages, colors of skin, food, etc.
This way, Poornodaya is able to provide a platform for knowledge and cultural exchange.
The more we share, and the varied information we share with each other, the more we become aware of the world around us, and are less surprised or shocked to see and experience something new.
Instill in kids the respect for nature and fellow beings
One of the most important values that Poornodaya aims to instill in everyone who is associated with it, is the responsibility towards the preservation of the environment. As part of this initiative, the institute discourages the use of plastic and motivates the kids, and the rest of the staff to use as much of the reusable, and recyclable products as possible. This not only inculcates respect and love for nature and its preservation, but also helps everyone to find creative ways to use what is already there, and not depend on buying new products or using something that is harmful to the environment.
As they say, a healthy mind resides in a healthy body, at Poornodaya they take good care of the kind of food the kids eat. Breakfast and lunch are provided to the kids keeping in mind the essential nutrients they must have as part of their diet. Parents are also motivated to develop healthy food habits in their kids at home.
Poornodaya follows the philosophy of Veganism in their effort to promote a more sustainable way of life. The food is prepared using the products from the local market, thereby promoting homegrown food and it also helps in giving back to the local community.
At Poornodaya, they put a continuous effort to maintain a balanced relationship between the kids, the teachers, the parents, the volunteers, and everyone else who is associated with it, as well as their environment.
As a volunteer, I had so much to experience in just one week. I learned more about Kerala's culture as well as became aware of the cultures of other countries, that the rest of the volunteers were from. We taught and played with the kids and despite the language barrier, it was amazing to see these kids get so comfortable talking to complete strangers that were going to be their family for a few days.