The Hindu | July 18, 2006 | K. Venkateshwarlu
HYDERABAD: For the motley group of poor tribal youth from the remote hilltop hamlets of Visakhapatnam district who had not even seen the port city, landing straight in Stuttgart in Germany was an “unforgettable experience”.
“It was simply out of the world. The sprawling school campuses, the huge buildings, spic and span streets and vast stretches of greenery. Meeting youth from other countries besides learning creative ways of teaching children was indeed a lifetime experience,” says Gangayamma, 19-year- old teacher of a tribal school run by Samatha in Thorada.
She was among the 17-member tribal youth delegation to attend the World Youth Festival organised by the UNESCO and a weeklong orientation programme of the famed Waldorf School at Stuttgart recently.
“The delegation from India was unique in that they were all tribals, some of them belonging to the most primitive groups with no exposure to outside world. Thanks to UNESCO they could travel all the way to Germany and learn a lot from others’ experiences,” said Bhanumathi of Samatha, who led the delegation.
The festival and the school programme evoked different feelings among these youth, all of whom teach in tribal schools managed by Samatha. For Pangam Rambabu, belonging to a primitive tribal group of Vattepaka village and Varalaxmi of Atchampeta, the methodology of teaching was impressive. “What we liked the most was the hands on learning, extra curricular activities, use of theatre and the emphasis laid on vocational education.” For most of them the cultural festival was a big hit. “We learnt to play drums from the South African delegation and we gave a tip or two on our own Dhimsa,” said Venkatswamy of Nimmalapadu.
Was it a smooth and happy journey? Not at all and the first problem they faced was getting passports and police verification as they were suspected to be Maoists. Then in Frankfurt, the airport officials though they were asylum seekers and detained them till help came from UNESCO.