This summer I have traveled to Bangalore, India on a research grant from WFU to volunteer and conduct research within the Sheila Kothavala Institute for the Deaf, a school for deaf children from kindergarten to 10th standard. I mainly helped with the younger students and taught them their ABCs in sign language and helped them learn new words and how to count. I also got to help with the older students as they train for a volleyball competition. Besides helping the students, I often helped create new teaching materials for the teachers. As for my research, I interviewed teachers about their experience teaching in the school and interviewed students about how the school has helped them become independent individuals capable of navigating through life and society, especially since many come from homes where the student has no way of communicating with their parents. More importantly, I have tried to learn more about their thoughts and feelings about their own hearing impairment. It has certainly been an amazing experience to learn from and work with these amazing children and see life from their perspective.
Besides my work in the school, I have been enjoying exploring Bangalore and living with several other international volunteers. I’ve experienced some unforgettable cultural events, such as the Hindu wedding of one of the teachers from my school, and have seen some amazing sights, such as Hindu temples and Muslim mosques, historic palaces, Indian gardens, and the markets of Bangalore. I’ve eaten some amazing Indian food and learned how to deal with the sometimes very irritating rickshaw drivers! Outside of Bangalore, I’ve explored a dancing village and am preparing to travel to Mysore, a city famous for its temples and palaces, and I will travel to Hampi as well. Overall, it’s been an awesome experience and such a wonderful learning opportunity.