Lara: Where did you serve, what was your main role, and what motivated you to take this on?
Gayatri: My community service experience involved teaching in a village school in Lesotho for around 10 months this past year (2011-12). I taught "Business Education" to 8th, 9th and 10th graders and “Guidance and Counseling" to 8th and 9th graders. My students were very curious about things and particularly enthusiastic about participating in class discussions. I also tried to coordinate with local aid agencies to provide medical support to our visually challenged students. My main motivation for choosing this community service opportunity was to understand how education is delivered in a developing country and to teach economically disadvantaged students who are in a high school system similar to my own.
Lara: What did you experience during your 10 month stay that you would not have in a shorter time?
Gayatri: The 10 month (as opposed to a shorter) time period gave me the opportunity to get to know my co-workers closely and understand and contextualize the political climate of the country, which was particularly exciting given that I happened to be there during what is considered a historic election.
Lara: What are your thoughts for bringing about lasting change and how will you keep in touch with your students?
Gayatri: From what I've observed, lasting change can be brought about by gainful employment and a transparent governmental system. For Lesotho specifically, from conversations with my coworkers and reading the newspapers etc, I believe that job creation is required immediately in order to provide employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled workers. I do hope to keep in touch with coworkers and students. Facebook has been useful to keep in touch with some coworkers. As for my students, I have been receiving phone calls from them but unfortunately the connectivity is never enough for us to talk to our heart's content.
Lara: What impact has the experience had on you?
Gayatri: The experience of teaching has, I hope, made me a more patient individual. The few times that we went without water has given me a new appreciation for limited resources. The entire experience has made me value resources such as internet and technology much more than I did earlier.
Gayatri Jayal’s Ten Months at a School in Lesotho
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