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March 10, 2015

Written by Jessica

I’m no stranger to being a stranger in a new country, or entering a new location and being an obvious visitor or outsider. I must admit that one of the things in life that I have found generates the most joy for me is walking into a classroom and being received in the very manner that I have since arriving in Goa. I occasionally feel uncomfortable about causing a stir, not wishing to be a spectacle or have attention drawn to the fact that I look so different from the general population here and certainly not wanting to seem a backlash from a colonial history. But that’s not at all how it feels when I enter a classroom​. Many times the children suddenly spot me waiting outside their classrooms and poke their friends and neighbours to look, waving, grinning, and being slightly shy. They suddenly feel at ease as soon as I return their grins with a smile that never seems to leave my face when I am in these places.

​The excitement that seems to radiate from the children is certainly infectious. Some of the highlights of my few weeks in Goa so far, working with some of the most challenging and also most delightful children, from both the MOP and LiS sites:

  • Being kissed on the cheek and asked to return by a lovely girl at Chimbel
  • Students asking me to write my name and signature​in everyone’s notebooks
  • Being asked questions about England, about my life and my favourite things
  • Being asked to take pictures of groups of students, and pictures with them
  • Always being asked my name, what colour my eyes are, and being read to from their library book for the week
  • “Good morning miss, good evening teacher, goodbye teacher, thank you teacher”, and every hello
  • Being shown with such pride their classrooms and the work they are doing
  • Their constant trying to catch my eye and smile, and knowing just how much that smile seems to mean to them
  • Holding my hand and following me back to the car
  • Holding my hand and asking me not to leave



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It is moments like this, among many others, that make me feel so happy to be a teacher and also so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to come and observe here in Goa with Bookworm. These kids are amazing, and it’s wonderful that they are being exposed to the joys of reading when they may not otherwise have been. Not ignoring the daily challenges that these kids face in their lives, and the immense amount of work and dedication that each teacher puts in to passing on the joys and importance of literacy, I must say that I haven’t met a single group of children here who hasn’t tugged at my heart strings in some way. I genuinely wish the best for all of them, and hats off to the teachers who are doing all they can to instil the passion for learning and reading.

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