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Teaching season in the sun

As the mercury soared, sane students decided to stay indoors, go for an occasional movie or a cooling swim. But here we were — 102 obviously insane Interactors — daring the sun and heat. Schools were closed, exams were over, what better time to get cracking with some real work'

Leading the squad was president of the Interact Club of St Joseph’s Collegiate School, Mayank Shah. ‘Each one teach one’ — a project where members of Interact would help underprivileged children from non-formal schools with their studies — was his brainwave. Support was strong, as students from six schools decided to come on board. The contribution made by all the students, including Siddharth Jain, Mohit Agarwal, Sonali Sehgal, Anoushka Pramanick, Anurag Gadodia and Vedika Sipani, was invaluable.

Don Bosco Park Circus, St Thomas’ for Girls, St Joseph’s Collegiate School, Welland Gouldsmith, Pratt Memorial and St James were some of the schools to sign up. The plan was to teach around 150 students at three different institutions across the city in four batches over a period of four weeks. The schools covered were part of the Nabadisha chain, which works in association with the Calcutta Police and is actively supported by CRY and Vikramshila Education Society. The Rotary Club of Mahanagar agreed to take care of all expenses involved.

One of the centres chosen for the project was in Dhakuria, run by the Lake police station. Thirty eager faces assemble here every morning, waiting to learn something new. Equally enthusiastic are the group of eight volunteers teaching them. Seven students of Future Hope School were helping out here. “We are really enjoying our time at Nabadisha with these dadas and didis. It is so much more fun than staying home and playing by ourselves,” grinned Shubhodeep Haldar and Rupa Mondol. The students were divided into three batches according to age and educational level. Apart from maths and English lessons, dance and drama sessions are also conducted. Toddlers were taught nursery rhymes and told stories to engage their interest.

The Interactors also worked at a school in Beniapukur, called Devendra Vidyapith. The group here was larger, with 80 students on the rolls. They were taught poetry, art, maths, English, dance and drama. “When the holidays are over, I will be very sad as we have our old teachers and lessons back,” mused Tabassum, one of the tiniest in the batch. The third of these institutions was in Bowbazar, where the students were mainly working children, speaking Urdu and Hindi. Besides English, Hindi and maths, Christine, a French lady, pitched in to teach the youngsters how to dance.

As a grand finale, a movie show has been organised for all the kids on June 6, giving them a well-deserved break from academics. This will be followed by a cultural programme at St Joseph’s on June 15 where the youngsters will display their talent and perform the nursery rhymes, songs, poems, dances and skits that they have been taught during the summer.

For all of us, the project was rewarding and enjoyable and involved ‘interacting’ in the truest sense of the term. “It was an amazing experience,” said Mohit Agarwal of Don Bosco, while for Shagufta from St Thomas’, it was important to “make a difference in someone else’s life”.

In fact, we were all glad that we could reach out, teach one and touch one.

— Surjo Deb

 

Youth power

The Agragami Tarun Dal of Amherst Street, including around 20 students from City College (day), organised a youth festival on June 1, on their club premises. The socially conscious fest featured a voluntary blood donation camp, a medical camp for the underprivileged and the launch of a mobile medical unit to operate within city limits.

The social welfare committee of the club decided to explore avenues of public life where youth could play a greater role. As part of this agenda, it has also taken a decision to start an old age home in the future.

While Mukul Sengupta, deputy inspector-general of police (vigilance), West Bengal, did the inauguration, ex-Olympian Sailen Manna was the chief guest at the day-long event. Leading professionals from the fields of medicine, development, media and the law were in attendance.

Doctors dropped by to give free medical check-ups and advice, after which a discussion was held on the social activities planned by the committee. Society must take a supportive stand, was the consensus, and youth “has a greater responsibility to fight injustice”. “More people should come forward to donate blood and help fight the killer thalassaemia,” said Tamoghna Ghosh, a young member of the committee.

The day ended with a cultural programme, with a stunning magic show conducted by D. Surojit and teen performances, upping the tempo.

— Sutirtha Sengupta & Srinwanti Das

 

Smoke alarm

Students of Don Bosco Park Circus were out fighting the smoker fire on May 31. If ignorance is a nicotine junkie’s bliss, the Interactors were determined to do away with it.

The boys took to the streets, armed with posters and pamphlets, taking on those smoking on the streets, asking them to put out their “cancer sticks” if not for good, at least to honour the No-Tobacco Day. The awareness rally covered Camac Street, Park Street and Shakespeare Sarani, spending around three hours spreading information about diseases like lung cancer.

While most people the patrol encountered were very positive in their response, others who did not know of the ill effects of tobacco products like cigarettes and gutkha, refused to consider what the student activists had to say.

— Siddhartha Saraogi

President, Interact Club, Don Bosco, Park Circus

 

Dream grant

In aid of “organisations supporting the use of technology to improve the lives of youth and helping bridge the digital divide”, Samsung Electronics has pledged US $ 600,000. Live Your Dream is the Korean electronics major’s theme for year 2003, and the focus is the youth all the way.

India, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore are the countries participating in this scheme. To choose the recipients of the grant, Samsung is forging bonds with youth agencies across the region, with the help of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap). An independent judging committee has also been set up to evaluate grant applications from charities, NGOs, educational bodies and development institutes. Both on-going and new youth projects will be in the running, with all awards to be announced on August 11.

 

Make a wave

If you think you can carry a tune better than most, here is a chance to prove your musical worth. All India Radio is all set to organise its annual nation-wide contest to find and encourage new talent. The primary level competition will be held at all centres of AIR, Calcutta. Selected candidates will be taken to Delhi for the finals in the Hindusthani music category and to Chennai for Carnatic music. Participants will have to be in the age group of 16 to 24 years on June 30. Approved artistes of any AIR station are not allowed to participate.

The disciplines for the competition include vocal (classical, semi-classical, light), Carnatic (classical vocal, instrumental, light, devotional) and choral. Winners in the finals will be rewarded and listed as AIR’s B grade artiste. Forms can be obtained from Akashbani Bhavan on any working day between 3 pm and 5 pm. The last date for submission of completed forms is June 6. Entry fee for the competition is Rs 100, to be sent by money order.

 

Figure it out

Imagine doing a tough “long multiplication” in a variety of methods — from left to right and right to left, by adding, subtracting or dividing. In other words, in a way other than the “tedious procedure”. Well, that’s what Vedic maths is all about — increasing speed, accuracy and analytical power. One calculation done through several methods, with room for more. A three-day workshop on the subject will be held at Padatik, on AJC Bose Road, from June 9, from 4 pm to 6 pm. All those interested are free to enrol, irrespective of age.

Karmic moves: The students of Soul Symphony will be presenting their annual show on June 8 at Gyan Manch at 6.30 pm. Dubbed Rhythmic Karma, the show will have students showing off what they learn round the year at the Chakraberia Road school for contemporary western fusion dance.

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