Brianna in class  ©

Brianna Biggins 

Brianna is currently working as a teaching assistant in Kurukshetra in the state of Haryana, about three hours from Delhi. 

I arrived at my school, Amatir Kanya Gurukul, in the beginning of August 2016; having just completed an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at the University of Kent in the U.K. 

I had no formal teaching experience and had never visited India before. 

I’d been told to expect anything and everything and after three and a half months these words of advice couldn’t have been more prophetic. 

Having lived at the school, alongside the girls and other teachers, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the strong work ethic and determination held by those around me and the impact the teachers here have on their students. 

Kanya Gurukul is still relatively new; it was established in 2002 as a place of protection for young girls, especially those from under-developed communities, offering them an education that places discipline, tradition, awareness and creativity at its core whilst instilling the philosophy that their girls are capable of anything they put their mind to. 

While no doubt you could apply the statement ‘no two days are the same’ to any school worldwide, this phrase couldn’t fit Kanya Gurukul more perfectly. 

From the array of festivals the school celebrates, as they promote and endorse all religions, to the creative passion held by both students and teachers, the school forms a diverse and committed environment. 

The Principal, Dr Priti Pathak Ojha, and other staff members at Kanya Gurukul actively emphasised the importance of other disciplines such as the arts (dance, theatre, fine art, music, paper making and quilling) to not only invoke creativity but to offer girls the chance to express themselves freely, exploring central cultural and social issues as well as exposing their students to opportunities in other career prospects. 

Artwork by Brianna's students 
Artwork by Brianna's students  ©

Brianna Biggins

During my time at the school I worked alongside these programmes, introducing the girls to painting, sketching and 3D work by using a range of different mediums and encouraging drama exercises in Spoken English in order to build the students confidence and critical thinking skills. 

Despite the school’s significant accomplishments, there is no escaping the fact that the school faces a number of challenges, in particular with regards to resources. 

Staff and students overcome this by being innovative, motivated, patient, and importantly, creative. I found that what I have learnt from both the staff and students at Kanya Gurukul has been equally as valuable as the knowledge I can share.

There was a unique charm at Kanya Gurukul, from the way that the children welcomed us into the school’s community and their consistent eagerness and determination to please and succeed, to the teacher’s hospitality, openness and drive to make a difference that inspires me to overcome any challenges that may be faced.

Learn more about the Generation UK - India programme, and find out how you could study, work or intern in India.