The session started a little late at around 10:15 since students from nearby towns, villages had to come all the way by bus (fare provided by udhavum ullangal). Initially there was a prayer song after which there was short discussion on importance of studies and mentoring from the perspective of udhavum ullangal which was academic centric and they brought out previous student experiences where students have scored high marks with their help. Then it was Bhumi’s turn to work on some activities to play with the children and have some learning part along with fun.
Team building and Communication were taken as modules and Caterpillar traverse, See Run Do were taken as activities for them respectively. There were more than 100 students initially but the college students were given mentoring advice from experts in udhavum ullangal. More than 70 students were present for the activities conducted by Bhumi. Since mentoring was going on elsewhere we had only 2 volunteers to handle such a big crowd. The groups were bigger than normal and there were loads of groups. Also, since the big hall was used by some other organization, we had a smaller class room. So, it was hard to conduct the first activity-caterpillar traverse which needed a huge place to execute. Despite such difficulties the game went smoothly, thanks to the children who were very understanding, silent and more of the listening type. It was a very versatile group with children from class 7 to 12th in the same room. This proved difficulty in terms of mingling in a group as people from different classes were unable to communicate properly within their team.
First activity was caterpillar traverse. There were 7 teams with each team having 10 or slightly more than 10 members. One group which was ‘all girls team’ performed excellently and ensured they did not by pass any rule as they understood the game well and their own teammates. Other teams had talented and creative individuals who gave ideas such as supporting each other in a team, giving commands and executing, etc. Though these ideas were present as a team they were not able to execute them since team coordination was missing. The reason for inability in terms of coordination was because of the fact that these children were a bunch of heterogeneous group from different classes and perhaps this also being the first session. At the end we gave closure on the importance of team spirit, coordination and team work- stating example of a cricket team,etc.
The second activity was See Run do. This was lot more organized as the volunteers too got the hang of handling such a large crowd and children too were more enthusiastic and willing to play another game. Initially 3 teams played with one team having done an excellent job of reproducing the diagram given and dividing the work equally among all members in that team in their first trial itself. This was a result of lucid communication with the addition of attentive listeners from that particular team. Second team reproduced the diagrams in parts but failed to connect the figure as given. Third team had difficulty in communication aspect as the person who was supposed to communicate was unable to tell to his peers who were much older than him and he was afraid. The second slot had the other 4 teams participating. This was executed better compared to previous slot as they learned from the first slot teams. One guy came out with a brilliant idea stating some parts of the diagram is understandable only by higher standard guys (cube,cuboids,etc) and he said he will give that particular part of the diagram to certain children. Despite such planning execution was lacking again. Yet, everyone was supportive and they learned a lot with regards to communication with closure from volunteers and children themselves. In the end children told what they wanted to learn from the upcoming sessions- English and Communication, Computers. Public speaking was done and several boys participated in it. Girls were shy and hesitant in speaking in front of large crowds. After this grouping were done for mentoring as part of udhavum ullangal which was based on grades such as 7th,8th,etc.
In general, it was a new experience dealing with more than 70 children. Although it was difficult handling so many children with just 2 volunteers, none of the kids were misbehaving. It was easier on that behalf. The children were very enthusiastic. Though certain teams did not perform well, other teams who mingled well within their team mates were able to execute perfectly in both activities. In the end children enjoyed both activities and they spared some time discussing what they wanted in future session and few children came and spoke in public regarding facts, recent news, etc. The joint venture with udhavum ullangal was a great experience with loads of learning.