Lara: Please describe what your community service project entailed.
Rachel: I was working at the FabIndia School in Bali, Rajasthan. The school is co-ed, but it has a special emphasis on enrolling and empowering girls because many families in this area would choose, for financial reasons, to send only their sons to school. I was working with students of all ages from nursery school through 9th grade. I was involved in various projects at the school: teaching English, math and geography, and also painting classrooms and constructing a bathroom for the school.
Lara: What was most rewarding for you?
Rachel: The most rewarding part was definitely teaching. It was such a rewarding experience to see the students really enjoying and learning from a lesson plan I had created. The students there were really great and made it a lot of fun for me too!
Lara: What was the most challenging aspect of your community service?
Rachel: I would say the most challenging aspects were teaching and building the bathroom. Teaching was a challenge because I had never taught a class before and sometimes it was hard to keep all the kids engaged in the lesson. Also since I was coming in the middle of the school year, it was not always clear to me what the students had learned and what they hadn’t, so I had to do a lot of improvisation. Building the bathroom was hard because we didn’t have any shovels or bricks and had to build the whole thing out of stones and hand-mixed concrete using pick axes, hoes and bowls for carrying cement. I did learn how to balance a bowl filled with cement on my head though!
Lara: What lessons did you learn as a result of your community service?
Rachel: I learned many different things from my
service project. How to teach a class and build a wall were some of the practical things I learned, but mostly I learned from the students. Even though we live on opposite sides of the earth I learned that I had so much in common with the students at the FabIndia School, whether it was our taste in music or our dreams for the future. I also gained a new respect for the importance of education. Seeing how hard the students at FabIndia worked and how much they appreciated the opportunity to go to school, gave me a new appreciation for all the opportunities that I have.
Lara: Would you recommend it to others? If so, why? If not, why not?
Rachel: I would definitely recommend working at the FabIndia School to others! The students and teachers at the school are most kind and it was great to work with them. I loved being able to work on different kinds of service projects and it was so rewarding to feel I was really making a difference for the students there. Also spending a month working at the school gave me an opportunity to learn more about Indian culture, which was also a great experience.