It was a sunny, 40 degree Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) morning as I made my way to the Eklavya Future School in Hyderabad. The roads were uneven and filled with potholes as I approached the school. The school was neat and organized. I was hosted by Superintendent Ravikanth Ganti and the principal, Asiya Begum, who both showed me around the school.
As I walked through a narrow corridor, I noticed a blackboard with the new word of the day, “wend.” The word, its meaning, and an example sentence were neatly written out on a blackboard so that the students can read and think about it as they moved from one class to the next. The students had access to computer facilities. The school’s collection of books was a small locked cabinet which the students could borrow from.
I visited the class that was collaborating with St. Mary’s School, where my son Navin is a sixth grader. The students from Eklavya and St. Mary’s were engaged in a global video conversation through Level Up Village. They exchanged recorded video messages about leadership, community and global issues. The Eklavya students were happy, cheerful, and bright-eyed. After brief introductions, I FaceTimed my son Navin so that he can listen and ask questions. The conversation was slow at first but everyone soon opened up. My son learned that students in the Eklavya school read about Akbar and Birbal and were not into reading about Harry Potter, unlike most students in the US. Students at Eklavya spoke three languages: English, Hindi and Telungu. Their conversation soon turned to sports and computers. Eklavya students enjoyed playing cricket and football (soccer) as well as virtual chess. My son was also interested to learn about what the Eklavya students were doing to address pollution in their town.
I visited a few other classrooms, including a preschool class. The students greeted me and sang songs. After taking a few pictures and videos I said goodbye to my hosts.
As I reflect on my trip it is apparent that the students of Eklavya strive to make the most of the learning opportunities provided for them. The interaction will positively impact and influence students from both schools and help further their understanding and perspectives about each other and the world around them.