It’s been almost four weeks since I joined Eli-Africa. When I joined in I knew a challenging task was awaiting me.I can never forget my first day/my first class. It was on the 8th may. That day, I entered a completely different world. Though mischievous, these kids are simply amazing. They do possess talents which might amaze anyone. In these 4 weeks, I have realized that life is playfulness. They reminded me of my primary friends. I am really thankful to these kids for if it was not for them I would have never got such a wonderful chance of learning. It is rightly said that formal education makes a living but self-education makes a fortune. I am really grateful to Eli-Africa. Though I know that a simple THANKS is not enough, yet I shall say thanks for such an enriching experience.
If you have a taste for overcoming challenges, you should climb aboard the ELI Africa Family. ELI Africa is a superlative archetype of mastering your skills and knowledge to communicate amid the students. Once you team up with ELI Africa, you will discern that it is an electrifying experience! I accepted the challenge of being part of the outstanding ELI Corps cohort. What makes ELI Corps members so zealous? So far, during my adventure at the Centre in Roche-Bois, I perceived that education was being acquired at a whole new level. In fact, it requires explaining in both creative and fun ways. Can you imagine playing football as well as singing your favourite song, in order to learn new English nouns and verbs? Indeed, learning would become much more entertaining!
As ELI Corps members, we are challenged to think outside of the box. As a team, we need to come up with unorthodox procedures to help the students learn. Therefore, the challenge is to find a correct method to teach to the students, while making sure that each one of them fully understands the topic. However, most of the time, this method requires altering the style to a more friendly, amusing and intelligible way, so as to suit the students’ academic digestive process. The name itself “ELI” stands for Experiential Learning Initiative, which means learning by engaging in practical activities. As long as our friends will learn through effective and innovative experiential learning, ELI Africa will be a sure-fire way to improve the students’ knowledge and expand their creativity.
At first, I was very scared to face this challenge. What if the students did not understand me? Do not get discouraged! ELI Africa helps its ELI Corps team, by providing them with excellent class schemes. These lesson plans are designed and polished by the ELI Volunteers. As a result, the topics are easier to explain and the lesson plans act effectively as a backup when the students cannot comprehend my examples. Nevertheless, when I help at the Centre in Roche-Bois, I never really faced this difficulty because my mentees are brilliant, proficient and committed (True story)! When these fast learners at the Centre understand what you teach to them, you get an amazing sense of accomplishment! However, most of the times, I am the one who is learning from these hilarious geniuses!
On this bombshell, it is time to end my blog post. Thank you for reading.
Being only a high school student, I don’t have the ability to say that I have experienced real life matters or have seen the ‘real’ world yet. As from the minute you were born, everyone around you do their best to create the most perfect and untouched image of what the world is so that growing up is an easy transition but unfortunately not all on this planet can say that their upbringing was ideal. These are the consequences of what us, human beings, have created and done. War, poverty, hunger, they all come from the fact that people didn’t know better than to do what they were told.Why is this? It’s simple…A lack of proper education. A couple of years ago I read a quote by the famous German Historian named Hegel, he said “We learn from History that we do not learn from History” and ever since I saw this I did everything in my power to do the contrary and to actually take in and understand the impacts of what has happened in the past and what can be done in the future to stop the past from repeating itself but this is easier said than done when most people around the world don’t have an education beyond primary or high school (Of which they barely even took notice). The key to a bright and successful future is education and that’s exactly what ElI Africa offers to a number of children today. It is said that this upcoming generation have a big task on their hands due to the impacts of climate change and of the huge economic downfalls that have been taking place during the last years. We are this upcoming generation that everyone seems to be talking about and what better way to make a change than to educate those who need extra help in certain departments so that not only can they strive as individuals but they it will give them to power to move Mauritius, as a nation, forward.
I teach at the Roche Bois Centre where nine very special children are under my care every friday. To see the smiles on their faces when I walk in is something that can’t really be put into words. I have grown to develop a relationship with every single one of them and hearing about their lives is something that I cherish. Last week I was chatting with the kids before we started on the “Present Continuous Tense” and I asked everyone for their end of year English exams grades and one the kids I teach yelled out “A+”. My parents always tried to explain to me what it’s like to be fulfilled and to feel accomplishment but nothing, nothing that I have ever done in my life could compare to what I felt that very moment.
Many of us will find ourselves alone at one point in our lives and that’s where we will be tested but what Eli Africa offers is a weapon and as Edward Everett said:
“Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.”
Hi. I’m Yadav.
In all likelihood, we have not met. So, I’ll give you a bit of background on what I’m about. Not enough for you to be able to track me down (unless you show up at Pamplemousses on a Tuesday) but enough for you to get a sense of who I am.
Actually, scratch that. I’ll let my classes (and class reports?) speak for me. (hey, V!) As far as readers of the blog go, that’s the only part of me that matters. The rest…well, I guess I’m just mysterious like that. It also adds this aura of coolness to my persona.
I have multiple auras. How awesome is that?
Each now and then, I will be posting about my Tuesday class at Arche de Noe. Nothing fancy. Just how things turned out, what we learned, what we did. Regular stuff.
Without further ado, I present to thee….
The last time I had been at Arche de Noe was back when I was Brittany’s aide in her art class. It was pretty fun hanging out there. My role as an aide consisted of translating Creole to English and English to Creole, helping Lauren and Britt clean up the art equipment while trying to not make a mess of everything , annoying Lauren, and generally being awesome. Easy peasy. Like tying shoe laces. Except for that one time where I nearly ruined Britt’s artwork. I’m also not very good with shoe laces. I can tie them just fine but I can’t get those cool knots down.
I’ve never been a big fan of buses. At least, not local ones. The seats are generally too small to contain my legs and I’m too tall to be able to stand without a sun roof. Good genes, what can I say? After some months of pain, I found that sweet spot in Mauritian buses. You guessed it. The backdoor. Right in front of it, is a little step, on which I can comfortably stand. Sure, my feet are still a little too big, but it’s nothing that a little tilting can’t fix.
The ride to Pamplemousses was okay. It’s not very hard for me to fall asleep in a bus. Especially if I have two whole seats to myself. The bus had some 20-ish people in it. More than enough space for the 15 school kids at the bus stop, right? But no, to the bus driver, that’s just around Rs225 less to be made. “Why pack my bus with a bunch of students when I can – hopefully – find some paying passengers a few stops ahead?” (assuming that it costs Rs15 to go from Pont Praslin to Pamplemousses) I don’t even know why this still surprises me.
The younger students didn’t turn up today but I will make it a point to discuss this with them next week. Some things I have in mind:
- How common is this?
- Is it the same drivers? (as far as I know, the same driver will be assigned to a particular route at a given time)
- Is there an underlying issue? (i.e, have the students done anything that might have angered certain bus drivers?)
- Going with the students to see what they’re up to in the bus. (I’ve traveled with them before and there was nothing insane going on)
While waiting for more of the guys to come by, Adish, Kevin, and I played some football. It became quite clear to me today why I was often the last to be picked in high school. I got rolled over by two 12-13 year olds! Still, it was good fun and if I keep at it, I know I’ll pick up a few things.
Today’s class took a while to pick up. I didn’t know who’d be there and whether there’d be new students. As it turned out, all of them were familiar faces. It was a mix of people I’d met at Mongout – Adish, Sonam, Eminem (the real slim, hehe) – and those I had met in Britt’s art class, like Laetitia and Ricardo. I brought along some children’s books but it was quite obvious that no one wanted to read about “Bubbles being honest” or “Biff and Kipper’s Magic Key (much to my dismay – I loved those Magic Key stories!). I then tried to teach a little about nouns and adjectives but the students weren’t very responsive to that either. At this point, the voices in my head were going craaaaaazy. All I heard was “Think McFly, think!” spoken in different voices and lots of weird accents. And then I heard Sal Khan (not the Bollywood actor) going on enthusiastically about which of a brick or feather would fall faster.
I wasn’t going to explain physics, but that thought did remind me of his awesome math videos! So, what started off as some geometry exercises (I asked them how to find the area of a sector of a circle) turned into an intro algebra class. It was easy to identify what they had covered in class and what they had problems with and I moved on from there. I explained integer operations “geometrically” and then played around with some find the unknown equations.
With the class being so diverse, I will have to work on different things for each age-group. I’ve talked to the students and we’ve agreed that I will be helping them with math, English and French. I’ll be back next week with an update.
(I should really think of a cooler way to end my blog posts)
Today I had quite an early start, for a Saturday. Got ready and hop! I took the bus and two hours later, reached my destination. You guessed right: ELI Africa Education Centre. As soon as I entered, enthusiastic and lively voices were heard. Some metres further were a group of children singing incessantly and enjoying themselves- and the party was not yet started! Other students were filling in the rooms of ELI, all with happy faces. Soon, the real celebration began: ‘Glooory to thee….’ I think there’s no need to tell it was on the occasion of the Independence Day. Afterwards, a group came on stage and sang their beautiful song. Some others followed later on and, spontaneously started singing sega, bruno mars and even bhojpuri! The kiosk was quickly filled with laughter, clapping of hands and appreciation of the melodies.
The day after tomorrow will be the 12th of March. This particular day, many many many years back, brought about many changes in the lives of we, Mauritians. Mainly, our nation’s freedom. Likewise, at ELI Africa, we aim to give our students the freedom they deserve:
Freedom, to have a platform to express themselves.
Freedom, to show their talents, as today.
Freedom, to discover what they are really capable of.
This freedom is supported at our centre, and should be preserved. I believe, and hope, it will help in their personal growth and for them to become independently unique…
So, owing to all of this : Hip Hip Hip Hurray, ELI Africa!
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This phrase was said by the all famous Nelson Mandela who after being released from prison went on to become the most popular leader of South Africa. His motto echoes today and unfortunately, many of us do not realise its true significance. In Mauritius, secondary schools do not educate their students; instead they teach their students how to pass the exams. The growing feeling amongst students and parents alike is that to have a decent job, high grades and certificates are required. They would be partially right but partially wrong as well. Education is a lifelong teaching and self-taught process that students have to be able to grasp at the very beginning of their school lives. If teachers do not lay emphasis on students being educated in a holistic manner, where all the different types of intelligence are reinforced and revisited, I am afraid that the future generation will not have the strength to change their country for the better good. This is where ELI Africa comes in, centre stage. Nowadays, teachers in secondary schools provide tuition and in Mauritius, taking tuition is sadly considered as fashionable. But some families do not have the means to pay for tuitions. Should their child suffer because of a financial problem? The answer is no. Education is free for everybody and that is the vision of ELI Africa.
At first, the word ‘ELI’ may keep you puzzled for a while. What does the word mean? It took me more than a while to figure it out. It actually stands for Experimental Learning Initiative and it stands true to the culture of ELI Africa by which they employ unconventional and yet fun methods of teaching. The student is challenged on a continuous basis which not only enhances his logical and linguistic intelligence but also develops his emotional, intrapersonal, interpersonal, bodily kinaesthetic and musical intelligence. These methods of teaching develop the child as a whole and do not concentrate only on specific aspects. As the President of ELI Africa, Vedant Seeam said: “It is all intertwined.”
On this 8th of January 2012, students as well as volunteers met at the centre in Mon-Gout to wish each other a Happy New Year and to introduce a pilot programme: the ELI Africa Corps Programme (EACP). In the sweltering heat, a ‘bring & share’ lunch took place at the centre. Boys, girls, tutors and the newest additions to the group all sat down at the same table and degusted a lunch that had been carefully prepared by several of the volunteers. With lively music playing in the background, the lunch seemed like a picture from a family lunch. Once the lunch was over, Vedant introduced the new programme. Before the introduction of this new programme, the students at ELI Africa had been involved in a Summer Fellows programme during which, undergraduate students from the University of Yale in Connecticut volunteered at the centre. The programme was well-received and the students at ELI Africa were overly happy with the outcome. They had learned a wide range of disciplines, from theatre to basketball to science experiments. However, the ELI Africa Corps Programme is different in the sense that this time, Mauritian residents themselves will be volunteering to help the students and to educate them in a holistic manner. The Mauritian residents will include students from Le Bocage International School, an International Baccalaureate school as well as students from the University of Mauritius pending the results of their interviews. The chosen students to tutor will be devoting a day of the week to ELI Africa and will be teaching subjects that they are comfortable and excellent in. The usual subjects will be taught alongside with new disciplines, such as: theatre, art, basketball and logic. The important advantage in this case would be that the language barrier disappears. With the earlier programmes, the students at ELI Africa were being taught by Yale undergraduates who could only communicate in English and for some students, this was a disadvantage since they were not familiar with English. The Corps Programme, since it is being implemented by Mauritian students, will be beneficial to the students who are weak in English. The tutors will be able to then communicate in Creole and gradually change to English, allowing the child to understand but also learn at the same time. In this sense, the children who come at ELI Africa will leave the centre one day with a feeling of accomplishment and in the satisfaction of knowing that whatever they have learnt at ELI Africa will remain with them for a lifetime. It will have made them a better person.
The ELI Africa Corps Programme is a step forward for a centre that many children depend upon. The dream is big. The dream is to allow all children, from whatever background they may be, to live in the world as an equal, with an education that surpasses bits of words on a piece of paper.
Last Sunday, teamwork as well as innovation were demanded at the centre. The students had to design the highest tower with the use of drinking straws and paper-clips only. They were divided into two groups of three. The team building the highest tower- which had to stand by itself- would eventually be the winner. To my surprise, nobody grumbled nor found the task as difficult as I thought they would. Instead, all of them were busily trying to put the drinking straws together and to find a solution to make their tower stand up.
After some struggle, and some amusing jokes in between, both team were able to built up their own tower. Unfortunately, there had to be a winner and the team as you can see in the lower right quadrant of the picture, won! Yet, the other team did an interesting tower as well. Joey, from the other team, had the ingenious idea of tying up the pipe to the curtain for support. And it worked because the tower was then the highest and standing up! But rules are rules, and they had to use only the materials provided. Just too bad guys. Yet, this resourceful idea should be praised.
I was glad that both team tried to do their best and, though the teamwork was not perfect, they somehow managed to communicate to complete their task. So, in the end ‘Intelligent Tower’ (named by the team) won. Both towers were put high up a cupboard. Hopefully they will not fall apart by the end of the week!
Well, its been some time now that I have embarked on an amazing journey that is ELI Africa. After my interview, I was quickly swept into another kind of world: that of helping those who have less opportunity than us. Having some power to do so really gives an invigorating feeling. Not only was I selected as a volunteer, but I also got the chance to be appointed as the Programme Officer!
Soon work started: executive board meetings every week and planning things at home. I also go to the centre each week and there I can see sweet students who have a thirst for knowledge and this encourages me even more to assist them.
The main idea for my programme is to make children aware that they can have multiple intelligences (linguistic, logical, bodily kinesthetic, spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist) and that everyone is a GENIUS in his/her own way. I hope that this will bring them better confidence to strive for more and encourage them to put in effort to achieve success, in whatever they do.
So for my class, I prepare activities that involve one or two types of intelligences. During one session,( which made me realise the talent of a particular student- continue reading and you’ll see!) the students had to write down their thoughts and feelings about what ELI Africa means to them. The writing part was quite easy but then they also had to arrange their writing as lyrics in a song that they know and sing it.
Many were uneasy which was understandable since they had to express what they really feel in their work and also because of the singing. (:p) But I appreciate everyone’s effort to have participated in the activity and for those who tried to sing: thank you! Because then a fabulous thing happened. Estelle, a really enthusiastic girl, out-shined the others in that task. Her writing and singing were just fantastic! She chose the Titanic music- ‘My heart will go on’ by Celine Dion- to interpret her work. The whole class went down to silence when she started singing and we all appreciated the beauty of it. Hats off to her!
One of the reason I am doing activities pertaining to the multiple intelligences is to discover new talents. To help children know what they are capable of. Seems like it is paying off!
Every student at the centre does have a particular talent, I am sure of it. So if you are reading this dear ELI Africa students, know that each of you has a genius in you. It may not be musical, but still there are many many other fields to explore. Cheers!
I leave you with Estelle’s lyrics:
My first day I came here with my
friend during my free time.
Day by day, it became serious.
Here I can improve my knowledge.
Make friends which later become my family.
Through the centre I can see the world.
For me its not a centre, its my house
My world is the centre.
Everyone helps another.
We said that when there is a will
there is a way.
And I will come to find my way.
Everyone here finds its way
We know that we are a genius.
In Eli Africa there is no different classification
This centre helps me in many ways
In education and friendship.
I will support it forever
This is my house.
Sometimes one moment is enough to change the whole aspect of your life. The world moves in a fast pace, where we are all competing to reach at the top of success. In getting there, we barely have any time to talk to ourselves. There came a moment in my life where I started feeling that I was too engrossed in the materialistic world, and that I needed to find myself back. That is when I took a decision.
My decision of being part of the Eli Africa Organisation has brought immense change in me. I always knew that I had the ability of teaching. When I learnt about how this organisation works, I realised that it was now time that my talent be of use to people.
After being selected on my interview, I could strongly sense that I had made the right choice in wanting to be part of the organisation. This was further confirmed after my first class with the children. They made me feel so at home that I was not even conscious that it was the first time that I was encountering with them.
I thought I would be teaching them, but unknowingly they have been the ones teaching me. The way they are, they think and they react has a great contribution in changing my perspective of life.
The knowledge and experience I am continuously gaining by being part of the Eli Africa Organisation cannot be fully explained in words. It is a level of spirituality and inner wisdom which can only be felt by contributing to the goodness of the society.
I’m Khirtee, Secretary at ELI Africa Corps and also teacher of the amazing kids out there!
The ELI Africa Corps is a programme of our volunteers in Mauritius.
‘Reading in English’, this is what I teach at ELI Africa centre at Mont Gout in Pamplemousses every Sunday.
My first time
The journey is long. In the bus, million of thoughts are running through my mind. How will I do this? Will the children like me? Where should I start? Am I good enough? Will I be able to do it? I step out of the bus and here I am, all alone walking towards the center. A feeling of peace and serenity hit me as I walk around the center. I was introduced to the children and they shyly introduced themselves as well. Surprisingly, I am feeling comfortable and happy being here, with the loving kids. It’s as if I am meant to be here, with you all.
Teaching at ELI Africa
To start with, my classroom is a mixed ability one whereby everyone has his/her own pace of reading and understanding. Time is not an issue for us! No one is timed. My students take as much time as they need – to read, articulate, understand and react. Questions are welcomed throughout the reading session. The students are passionate about learning and when they already have the motivation, things become a lot more easier. The reading session is all about general knowledge. However, I have designed an MIS (Module Information Sheet) which highlights the skills that the students will develop at the end of this module. This MIS guides me and it acts as a plan which I follow each week. As a matter of fact, my students have progressed a lot and I am proud of them!!!
A long way to go
It’s only the begining. I feel I have a lot more to share with the lovely ELI Africa students! I’m blessed to be part of the ELI Africa family!