UNITED SIKHS Oxford University Travel Aid Volunteers teach English in Punjab
Sep 10, 2006

They taught, they learnt
Sanjay Bumbroo

Two Punjabi-speaking British graduates along with four Oxford University students, under the United Sikhs Oxford University Travel Air English Language Teaching Programme, interacted with the students and teachers of Khalsa College, Amritsar, and learned about the rich cultural heritage of Punjab. Inderjit Singh and Ramanpreet Kaur Baath, Sikh British students, and four Oxford University students—David Whiteside, Aiman Leung, Annie Mcdermott and Miranda Jones—led by Ms Harsharen Kaur, co-ordinator of the programme, interacted with the Khalsa College students and also taught students of the Standard Public High School in the village of Dhulka during their stay in the holy city. Annie Mcdermott told TNS that she was amazed that the students at the school wasted a lot of time memorising words but did not know the meaning of what they were learning. Initially they found it difficult to interact with the children, but were able to convey their message with the movement of their hands. She said the students in Khalsa College and at Dhulka were excited to meet the group and wanted it to be back again for teaching. She said teachers here had never expressed appreciation for the good work done by the students and reprimanded them on small mistakes. Aiman Leung said the team had an amazing and immense experience, as the people here were social and opened up to the strangers. She said, compared with the students in the UK, the children here were more disciplined and gave more respect to their teachers. The students here were ambitious and wanted to study in England and other countries. She said she liked Chandigarh as it was like another European city, free from pollution and the rush. The group also visited Dharamsala, Dalhousie and Anandpur Sahib. David Whiteside said the visit to the city had given the group an insight into the life in Panjab—its food, people and culture—which had broadened their knowledge through a cultural experience. The guests from abroad attended music classes and did community service at the Pingalwara charity. The team experienced the village life on the field trips. David found the students here to be intelligent, but shy of speaking in English. Ms Harsharen Kaur, co-ordinator, described the CAOF (Change Agents of the Future) and STARAE (Scholarship as a Tool to Accelerate Rural Academic Excellence) programmes under which students of Khalsa College, Amritsar, and Standard Public High School, Dhulka, had received tutoring in the English language. She said the students from the UK had acted as mentors and role models for the students here. She further said the programme would open the minds of the students in Panjab to education opportunities in premier institutions like Oxford University. She hoped that more students from Oxford University would come here next year, as the present batch would have good experiences to share with their friends in the UK.

Ms Surjit Kaur Khanna, Head of the Department of English, Khalsa College, said the foreign guests had motivated her students to learn more about the language and programme had been successful as it had the support of Dr Daljit Singh, Principal, and the staff of the Department of English at the college.

Article by Courtesy of http://www.tribuneindia.com
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