Three Cheers for Uma Rani!

Yesterday was my final class at Bansilalpet School. I’ll reserve a separate post for their final project but just for now I want to highlight one student in particular. We spent the class preparing for today’s final presentation and party: making a snack list, finalizing and retouching all the videos, and deciding who would give the welcome address to fellow students, the entire faculty, and the headmaster. Almost before I could finish asking for a volunteer, Uma’s hand shot up.

“I’ll give the welcome,” she quipped.

My co-teacher Geetha and I were both (pleasantly) a little shocked. From the beginning, Uma has been excited about the class and eager to learn, but also slow to raise her hand and very prone to blushing. She never quite got comfortable in front of the camera, but, slowly, she did make strides: first volunteering to be camerawoman, than to direct, and finally, to take the lead on writing our last fiction story and recording the voiceover. Still, if someone had asked me whom I would have pegged as a willing public speaker back in July, I would never have guessed Uma.

Maybe Uma’s transformation stems from the fact that, as a class, we’ve all gotten more comfortable with each other. We’ve worn insane costumes and had too many spontaneous dance parties to count.  The girls and boys have not only learned to work together, but have found that they enjoy it.  Maybe it’s simply that she’s six months older now. But whatever the reason, in the video below she proves herself to be an incredibly confident and articulate young woman.

I’m missing my students at Bansilalpet already, but it’s no small comfort to have walked away knowing that Uma and her classmates, who taught me so much over the last six months, truly are confident excited and excited about continuing to tell their stories.

  1. Piya

    December 10, 2013 - 10:29 pm

    I love this story! It’s amazing the kind of transformations you can see in people when they have a true community in which to explore and form their identities. All of a sudden Uma thinks of herself as someone who can raise her hand and volunteer to speak in public! I think this is the true purpose of education. Congratulations!

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