Was Tamil the language of the Dalits

Name of the place of work: Loyola Higher Secondary School Kuppayanallur

Carrier: Chennai Mission (Jesuits)

Place: Kuppayanallur, Tamil Nadu

Country: India

Institution / department size: two school buildings, two hostels, a center for alcohol and drug addicts, Jesuit residence

Number of employees: 60

Beneficiaries: Dalit population of the surrounding villages

Offers of the institution: School education from 6th to 12th grade, hostel for boys and girls, JAMAAD center for alcohol and drug addicts

My tasks: I looked after the girls in the Girls Hostel during study times and in their free time. I often made music with the children (especially singing) and every day I taught sports and games in the afternoons. At school I supported the teachers in "Spoken English" for 8th and 9th grades, practicing conversation, tongue twisters, songs and simple sentence structures with them. As part of the English faculty, I helped shape the English Language Teaching Program (ELT) and prepared songs, plays, dances and speeches in English with the students for the ELT meetings.

What are the special challenges for me: It was a challenge to adapt to the Indian school system because it is very different from the German system in terms of learning methodology and pedagogy. Learning the language "Tamil" was not so easy either, because I had no real lessons, but had to get an idea of ​​the language from all possible corners. Learning a language without a structure was very difficult for me. Another challenge was not to label situations and behaviors from the outset as “that's how Indians are”, but to question and honestly try to understand the origins and advantages of certain traditions and character traits.

What difficulties / fears are there: The Indian Jesuits have always been very concerned about my safety, which is why I was never allowed to leave the campus alone. Sometimes I felt a little trapped, even if of course I knew that they only wanted the best for me.

What do I enjoy most: Practicing dances and plays with the school children was always a highlight, even if it could be very exhausting. But in the end the students always presented a very good result because many of them are really talented. In the hostel I was very happy to give math and English tuition during the study times. At the weekend I also enjoyed the rubbish collection campaigns that we started in the Manual Work period. They were supposed to raise awareness among the girls and at the same time the area became cleaner. Otherwise, I simply enjoyed the time with my hostel sisters and laughed a lot when we played and made nonsense in our free time.

What could I learn: I have learned to work with children, to make myself strong as a woman in the male-dominated culture, to question my consumption and our western world from a new perspective and to be spontaneous. In addition, since my assignment I have been more open to new people and environments because, as the only foreigner, I naturally had to make many contacts (which was a great pleasure). I was also able to take away a lot from the Tamil culture. Hospitality and sharing with others are very important values ​​and I also realized in India that some problems seem much bigger than they actually are!