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St Mary's and Stranmillis Students Teach in India

 

 

Aoife McGirr of St Mary’s University College with two pupils from Sneha

Aoife McGirr of St Mary’s University College with two pupils from Sneha

 

This term a group of five St Mary’s and five Stranmillis BEd students travelled to India to teach in the Sneha Doon Academy in Dehradun. The Sneha school, a remarkable institution staffed by a team of enormously dedicated teachers, has succeeded in the last twenty years in helping thousands of Dehradun children to transform their lives through education.  The students from St Mary’s and Stranmillis had the opportunity to work with one another in planning and teaching lessons for the children as part of the Colleges’ Diversity and Mutual Understanding programme. The entire project was initiated and overseen by Dr Christine Burnett of the Saphara charity, which has worked with Sneha to fund building projects, to pay teachers’ salaries and more.

Students participating from St Mary’s were Aideen Murphy, Aoife McGirr, Maeve Quinn, Maria McLarnon and Ryan Farrell. Students from Stranmillis were Ashlea Whann, Hannah Barnes, Jennifer Coll, Jill Porter and Sarah Hillis. The student teachers were put into teams and tasked with preparing active, hands-on lessons for the children. The results were tremendously successful as the children were clearly energised and engaged by the content and teaching styles of the lessons the students prepared.

The children of Sneha were also able to teach our students a great deal about life in India and about the unique challenges facing learners in a materially deprived community. Third Year St Mary’s student Aoife McGirr said of the experience, ‘‘My Saphara trip has been filled with laughter, tears and inspiring stories, but it is the smiles of the beautiful children I have met that I will never forget! Their love for learning and life has touched me, and I will treasure all of the special memories forever.”

The group also travelled into the foothills of the Himalayas to visit Kaplani High School and to work with these children in their more rural, remote setting. Of particular interest were the sessions run as part of the Saphara “Girls Flourishing” programme designed to address issues of self-esteem and academic ambition and achievement in the young female pupils.

Dr Matthew Martin, a Senior Lecturer from St Mary’s and Dr Gillian Beck, a Senior Lecturer from Stranmillis, accompanied the students to assist with planning, to support the students in their teaching and to run professional development workshops for the teachers of Sneha.  Dr Martin said of the experience, “We have so much to learn from the work of the Sneha School and the Saphara organisation. The true power of education to change lives and transform society becomes vividly apparent in an environment such as Dehradun. As well, we learn from the staff of Sneha and from Dr Burnett of Saphara the need to be relentlessly dedicated and patient as we do our best to assist young people everywhere with their educational challenges.”

The students compiled a blog of their time out in India which can be found on the Saphara website.

 

 

St Mary’s and Stranmillis Students lead an Assembly in Sneha School

 

St Mary’s and Stranmillis Students lead an Assembly in Sneha School

 

Sarah Hillis of Stranmillis and Maria McLarnon and Ryan Farrell of St Mary’s with the pupils of Sneha

 

Sarah Hillis of Stranmillis and Maria McLarnon and Ryan Farrell of St Mary’s with the pupils of Sneha

 

The Teachers of Sneha Doon Academy

 

The Teachers of Sneha Doon Academy