Teach for India's first rural fellow, Aditya Bandari, has always been civic-minded. His experience volunteering with a political party in college inspired him to explore where mindsets are formed: an...
Tisch Summer Fellows at Bodhi
Highlights from the experiences of Tisch Summer Fellows, 2017 (created by Claire O'Donnell)
Teach for India's first rural fellow, Aditya Bandari, has always been civic-minded. His experience volunteering with a political party in college inspired him to explore where mindsets are formed: an exploration that he believed he could best undertake in the field of education, after he realized that it is not organization people lack but education.
Aditya has an intriguing background and diverse interests. While studying aircraft maintenance engineering, he simultaneously completed a BBA from Osmania University via distance education. He is proficient in French and Italian, with a B2 in French from Allianz Francais. He cites participatory governance and public administration as his main interests. Well-read and humble about his accomplishments, he strikes you as the kind of person who is always learning.
Exactly the kind of person you would want to become a teacher.
Aditya became a Teach for India fellow in 2015. Through Teach for India, fellows are assigned to ‘under-resourced schools’ in ‘low income communities’ for two years. Aditya started out in secondary education in a government school in Hyderabad. In his second year, he took the opportunity to transfer to Bodhi to explore a rural setting and a younger set of students.
Aditya is observant and proactive, and always has a number of projects in the works. He has begun shifting textbooks to SCERT, the state syllabus, because he believes they have a strong and application-oriented curriculum. He has implemented teacher training programs for the other teachers and aims to bring them to a level where they can independently enhance themselves. He has classified the books in the library, pulling out relevant and useful materials, which has resulted in a library period for all the grades. With him, students have begun a farming project, growing vegetables. Aditya also wants to “co-teach” – have teachers assist and teach in his classroom so that he can share his experiences and collaborative learning can happen in a non-judgmental atmosphere and teachers can take that learning back into their classes.
Aditya is inspired by Vigyan Ashram’s concept of work-centric education. He wants students to learn on three levels: academics, values and mindsets, and access and exposure. His vision for his students is for them to be curious about themselves and the people around them. Children, he says, show interest in learning only when it makes sense to them. Education should equip children with life skills.
“Being in the TFI structure has given me a lot of space and time to spend with the kids, to learn, to teach, to understand those interactions. Bodhi has given me the space to learn from students in the rural environment.”
“I want to be a doctor. My parents are uneducated and face health issues because of that,” says Jaya Mangala, a vibrant 10-year-old who enjoys conversation and cursive writing. Like the other girls, she is dressed up for Children’s Day, wearing ethnic clothes instead of her uniform, bright blue bangles and a pretty necklace with a big locket. The mehendi on her arms is on full display in the pose she strikes—one hand demurely under her chin, the other supporting it.
Mangala’s parents never finished school, and make a living through subsistence farming. Mangala believes that we should study so that we may get good jobs and help people like her parents, who had limited opportunities because they dropped out of school.
Mangala particularly likes how studying at Bodhi includes hands-on projects and “drawing work” and that she can play in the large and lush playground. Her favorite subject is English, and her favorite teacher is Rajeshwari, the English teacher. Her love for language seems to have given her confidence and poise – she is as ready with her answers as she is with a pose for the camera.
Nandu’s shining eyes and wide grin reveal his happiness at being in Bodhi. When someone cracks a joke, he throws back his head and laughs, not conscious of anything except how funny he finds the joke.
Looking at him, you would be hard-pressed to guess that the path hasn’t always been smooth for Nandu. He lost an entire year of schooling because his father was ill. Now he lives with his grandparents, away from his parents and brother, so that he may go to Bodhi. He misses his “beautiful” family. His grandmother leaves at the crack of dawn to work on a farm, leaving twelve-year-old Nandu alone. He is eager to come to school each day. Those expressive eyes light up when he sees his teachers and friends. He likes to read and dance and adores his Math teacher, Venkat. This gamut of interest reflects in his career choices – he wants to be an engineer, teacher or photographer!