GPM volunteers and staff introduced the children to the American holiday of Thanksgiving, offering a special lesson comparing it to the recent Indian festival of Dawali. The classes discussed the histories that formed each holiday – gratitude for bounty among the Americans and gratitude for light over darkness for the Indians – and then explored some of the traditions of each. When the teachers explained that Americans have the custom of eating turkey on Thanksgiving, the children were perplexed. “What is a turkey?” they asked.
“Well,” GPM Haley Dsouza Educational Director said, “it’s like a very big chicken.” The children were amazed. “Think of it like four or five chickens stuck together,” she added, and the children burst out in
The lesson was part of the informal education program that GPM brings to children studying in the REAP schools in the slums of Mumbai. GPM volunteers teach the children, ages 4-14, subjects such as astronomy, geography, hygiene, English, and more. In a program on life-skills, the volunteers have recently taught classes on a variety of topics such as inventions, body language, and telling time. “We learned about inventions like old telephones, telescopes, and The Wright Brothers,” Haley said. The children also play games and learn songs, which help them with English language acquisition.
“The children learn so much from the volunteers,” Haley said. “So do I,” she added with a smile.