Vacation time for students! a time for visiting families, friends, for ‘having a good time’ was spent in a very different way by the 83 boys and girls of standards X,XI & XII of Wayanad Dt. of Kerala. They were at Pawana- the Pastoral Center in Manandwadi, attending an Intensive Course in ENGLISH cum LIFE SKILLS from April 14 to 29, 2013. The participants came from nine parishes of Kottayam Diocese of Wayanadu Dt to attend the program

The students were privileged to have a wonderful team of SCNs : Geeta, Vandana and Marianne, as ‘Friend- Philosopher – Guide’, to accompany them in the process of learning, unlearning, discovering and finally budding forth into orators, poets, dramatists, expert Quiz Competitors , and good communicators in English .

The parents were invited for the Grand Finale when the students put up a two hours’ Literary Program giving a glimpse of some of the things they learned including three Plays . All the parents were amazed to see their children on the stage with so much self-confidence , discipline, performing in English with so much ease and courage.

This was achieved through the carefully designed interesting, creative and activity based curriculum of the course. So within such a short period they acquired skills in Comprehension as well as in Speaking English. The course provided ample opportunity for the participants to develop their immense potentials dormant in them and to free themselves from many of their inhibitions, bad habits and fears in the use of English Language.

The day began with Exercise, Yoga, Pranayam and Meditation which set the tone for the whole day. It created self-awareness, control of body, mind and they learned to calm their wandering minds, and to commune with God in stillness and silence. Slowly they grew in an attitude of gratitude to God and to all people to whom they are indebted for all what they receive daily.

Sessions on Etiquette and good manners were part and parcel of the program as Personality Development, Character Formation based on good human values

Leadership Training and Carrier Guidance also were the goals of the course besides English

The first class each day was a Quiz Competition. The students were very happy with this creative method of revising and learning. Each day sitting with new partners in the class and group learning were entirely new experiences for them. Outdoor or indoor games, supervised group study in the evenings and before evening prayer daily Written or Oral Evaluation were part of the daily time table. In their final evaluation they expressed that even though this course was tight and demanding,, but it was very transformative and challenging.

Fr. Stephen Cheekapara, the director of the Pastoral Center as well as the Director of Needhi Vedhi at Kalpatta was the Organizer of the ENGLISH CUM LIFE SKILLS course with the wonderful cooperation of all the priests of the Vicariate. Fr. Gilesh, Br. Tinesh, Srs. Alphy, Leema and Jubi took turn to look after the students whenever they were not in the class as this was a residential program. For most of the students it was a first time experience to be away from home, rising in the wee hours of the morning to do yoga, taking personal responsibility for washing their own clothes and doing chores, etc. The parents were delighted with the positive drastic changes in their children and requested for refresher course so as to keep up what the children acquired . Plans are made for those who are interested to spend one day each month at Pawana to renew and revive all they learned.

For Vandana, Geeta and Marianne it was a delightful challenge calling us to practice patience like mother earth. In giving birth to a child how much pain a mother goes through , only a mother knows. But we felt ours was more difficult a task as we had 83 children of various capacity and to create interest within each one was a mammoth task. Yet we were not the ones to give up or leave few behind . We had set our goals, planned and evaluated our strategy each day. Though there was a lot of weeding , pruning, and digging around daily in the course of teaching –learning, we were delighted with the end result as a gardener rejoices at harvest time! We are grateful to God for the loving relationship we built with each child, and for the seeds of curiosity, determination, joy in learning and enthusiasm germinated in them.

Sister Marianne Puthoor SCN

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