The University’s Outstanding Student Contribution Award (OSCA) aims to recognise exceptional student achievements and is a celebration of individuals whose efforts have made a real difference and a significant contribution to a community.
We are pleased to announce that OSCA has been awarded to Hasan Suida, a former volunteer and associate of the Warwick Laksh Programme. Hasan, who recently was awarded his degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, has undertaken two placements in India at the Laksh Foundation on behalf of the programme.
During these placements he worked within community schools, teaching young Indian learners between the ages of 5 and 16. As well as this, he worked with the Laksh teaching team, helping them to improve their knowledge and teaching skills. Hasan took his role as a teacher, volunteer and mentor very seriously, helping the teachers to implement useful systems to help them manage the daily challenges they face and by demonstrating reflective practices to enable them to continue to develop themselves after he left. His sensitivity and natural empathy enabled him to develop meaningful relationships with those he worked with.
Rather than be quoted himself, Hasan requested that a piece he wrote, based on an interview he carried out with Leelam, a learner within the Alumpur community be published instead to offer a real insight into the work of the Warwick student volunteers and the Programme:
It’s 2017 and it’s raining. Not the pitter-patter attrition of the UK. Thick, wet, spheres, like static from a television – blurry, heavy and thunderous. This is India’s monsoon season. I find myself in one of the outdoor classrooms that the Laksh foundation has established, providing afterschool tuition (primarily in English and Maths) to young learners in rural area near Delhi. The rain begins to settle, creeping ever-forward towards my feet, the rooms begin to flood and the teachers take their mats to new positions as the children follow, looking longingly at the falling torrents with hints of wry smiles. The sun moves by a few degrees towards its resting place and the traces of attack disappear like treacle into the sky; pools turn to veins which condense to droplets of dying reflections. A girl comes and sits down with the program coordinator, Madan, and I on the concrete floor, away from the others learning. She wears a metal brace to hold back her dark glossy hair, just like the one gifted to me. A shy smile. Her fingers twist over others. And suddenly she is speaking, gestures overflowing outwards as if releasing the rain into a river, and my eyes widen. I am a listener and an interviewer, conflicted.
Leelam is 13 years young and curious. I ask her of her free time on weekends. She speaks lucidly listing all of her weekend tasks. The first involves strenuously collecting the cow dung in the early hours of the morning. The thick, glutinous patty used for cement and paving with fantastic anti-mosquito properties, the methane hidden within used as fuel. Next: cleaning clothes by hand, bucket showers, making chai, cleaning, cooking lunch, doing her homework. But what about khali time, the free time! She gives me a dubious look of confusion momentarily, face creasing for a second. Then she talks of feeding the birds, playing carrom (a tabletop pool-type game) and watching cartoon network on the little shared TV. Energy emanates and we talk; we talk of school and teachers and educational games. She grateful to her teachers, you can see in the way she speaks highly of them. I know how hard they work, training in the morning, teaching in the afternoon, helping with chores and tasks in the evening and studying for themselves in the late night. She learns in different ways here at Laksh; English is a little more fun when it’s applied to your surroundings, rather than reading out-loud to a silent class. She likes poems and I ask her to recite one. Her eyes flick from left to right quizzically, then she breaks out into a full smile and sings:
Telling a lie?
We giggle, young and care free, but suddenly return to serious whispers about important things. What does she want to be in the future? A lady pilot. I feel the intelligence in her like a muscle waiting to be flexed so I ask her what she would do if she ruled the world. She takes a few minutes to ponder in content silence. I use this time to reflect on the maturity of her response, the zeal of her vision and pillars of community experience which she grounds herself in. She speaks, with hands that cut the air, of the environment - and the litter pilling up in the centre of the village and all around her. “Plastics should be removed”. '
Despite the clear affection for her community, she tells me there are a few great problems. Children roam around aimlessly instead of going to school. Their old men don’t work and sit around smoking shisha pipes and play cards - gambling money away they don’t have. In the night the alcohol fuelled violence sometimes strikes, leaving its scar like the shedded skin of black cobra. All the while the women’s double burden involves working on the farm and attending to the household. It is not a future she always looks forward too. How to solve this? It’s difficult we agree. How does one manage the family and work hard and be independent? These are questions we can all ask of ourselves. We look into the distance at all the other learners and teachers, sharing knowledge and concentrating away the hours – striving for a better tomorrow. The answer remains to be answered another day.