Leah Dawson will be arriving in Bakhel next week to start a seven month internship. Here she explains what she will be focusing on during her time at Hunar Ghar.
Hello! My name is Leah and I will be going to intern at Hunar Ghar at the start of 2016 for seven months. Since graduating from Manchester University with Psychology, I have been working at a secondary school in Bristol as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA). My project for Hunar Ghar centres on this experience of working with children with special educational needs (SEN). During my time in Bakhel I will be working with the school to establish practices that support the learning of students who find it challenging to learn in the same ways or at the same pace as other children.
I hope to pursue a career within educational psychology and have always been keen to travel. When I discovered Educate for Life and the incredible work that they do in providing sustainable education and healthcare in a marginalised community, I was instantly drawn in. I have no doubts that it is going to be a huge challenge for me; adjusting to village life (having only ever lived in inner-city Bristol and Manchester!), learning Hindi, building new relationships, being away from home and seeing the project through so that it will run successfully and sustainably in the future.
What exactly do we mean by ‘Special Educational Needs’ within the context of Hunar Ghar? This is something we are currently working on establishing. In the UK there are clear government guidelines and a wealth of multidisciplinary public services in place to assess, diagnose and intervene where children’s learning needs are greater. At Hunar Ghar, we are working without this infrastructure and our definitions will be more simplistic. The project will focus on developing ways to overcome three broad categories of potential learning barriers: the children’s rural marginalised backgrounds, teacher training and support, and children’s cognitive, behavioural or emotional difficulties.
I am currently making all the necessary preparations before I fly out next week; final vaccination appointments, visa forms, project plan alterations and lots of Hindi learning (this now includes watching one Bollywood movie a day!). I am hugely looking forward to meeting the children at Hunar Ghar and getting to know the people and the village of Bakhel, as well as the team at Educate for Life. They have all been so supportive in preparing me for my internship, so I hope I can make a valuable contribution to the school and community. By developing ways of supporting, encouraging and scaffolding learning, I hope we can overcome some of the barriers within education to ensure all children have an equal opportunity to succeed and flourish.