This is the fifth and final interview from the “Reach the World Kids: Field Notes” series. All photos in the series are courtesy of the traveling interviewers.
Traveler Bio: Angel is a University of Tennessee student and a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipient studying abroad in Bangalore, India.
I volunteer in an after-school program in one of the largest slums in India. There, I meet children your age who come to the program after
their regular schooling lets out. I help them with English and other subjects, and we sometimes just hang out. The program is held in a small school and is always in need of volunteers. There are more students than there are seats or supplies, but still children are happy to come.
Students there come from all over India, representing many ethnicities, religions, and languages. Sometimes it is difficult to communicate, because most have had very little practice learning English. One such girl in the fifth standard (fifth grade) named Rakshitha was more than happy to help me answer a few questions while others looked on and listened. Occasionally someone would jump in and help translate a few tricky words, but for the most part, these are her exact words.
This is Rakshitha.
What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
For breakfast, lemon rice. For lunch, vegetarian pulav (rice). And for dinner, rice and dal (lentils or peas). Notice any themes?
What is your house like?
Rakshitha lives in a small house with a big family, including all her siblings, her parents, and her grandparents.
What chores do you have at home?
Her chores includes doing homework, taking the garbage out, and washing clothes. Many homes in India, like Rakshitha’s, do not have washing machines, so they do it all by hand and let it air dry.
What jobs do your parents have?
Her mom is a housewife and her dad is a printer. Many families do not own a personal computer, so they go to a public facility to use computers, printers, and copy machines. Rakshitha’s dad is in charge of one of those printers. It is also common for wives to stay at home to take care of the house, so that is what Rakshitha’s mom does.
What time does school start, and what time do you go home?
School starts at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 3:15 a.m. Like Rakshitha, many students leave from school to attend after-school programs for an additional two or three hours.
How do you get to school? Are you allowed to go to school by yourself?
Many kids walk to school by themselves from a young age. Some walk with their parents or in large groups. Some schools provide buses, but most do not. Rakshitha rides on her dad’s two-wheeler (motor bike) to get to school.
Walking in lines on the way to and from school.
Where do you eat lunch? What is your favorite food?
All students from elementary school to university get an hour in the middle of the day to eat lunch. Rakshitha meets her mom off campus, where they eat a meal together that was prepared at home. Rakshitha’s favorite food is vanilla ice. (I believe she meant ice cream.)
What language do you speak at school? How do you say “Hello” in your language?
Rakshitha speaks English and Kannada at school. Kannada is the state language of Karanataka, where her city of Bangalore is. Most schools also speak in Hindi.
What are some common kids’ names at your school?
Her friends’ names at school are Reshma, Neha, Keerthara, Kavya, and Ramya.
Young students peeking in the classroom.
What subjects do you study in school, and which one is your favorite?
Rakshitha studies English, math, science, and Kannada at school. Her favorites are math and English.
What is your homework like?
Most of Rakshitha’s homework is reading
Angel working in the classroom on homework with students.
What do you like to do after school? Do you have a favorite sport or game?
After school, Rakshitha goes to tuition (the after-school program) and plays with her friends. Her favorite games to play are racing games!
Who is your favorite famous person?
Rakshitha’s favorite famous people are her mother and father. I think she may have been confused by the word “famous,” but that’s okay. Now we know her two favorite people!
What kinds of music do you listen to?
There was also a language barrier for this question. We established that Rakshitha does like music, but she could not tell me which kind. She does like “sing and song” music.
What would you like to be when you grow up?
When Rakshitha grows up, she wants to become a doctor. Many other students her age want to be doctors, teachers, and scientists, and many want to work with computers.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If Rakshitha could go anywhere in the world, Rakshitha would want to go to the Indian city of Kolkata, which is where her parents are from.
What do you know or think about the United States?
Rakshitha did not know much about the United States, so I let her ask me questions that maybe I could answer. I told her about the foods we eat, our diverse geography, our school system, and some other differences. Some of the most common things Indian children tell me about the United States are that Obama is our president, we eat cows and pigs (which seems strange to them), we are all white, and we are a rich country. What do you think about that description of the United States? Would you change or clarify anything?
What questions do you have for kids in the United States?
Rakshitha was curious about what kinds of music you listen to, as well as what your favorite foods are!