Meera in India

Meera is a first-year computer science major in the Lyle School of Engineering who is a Dean’s Scholar and Engineering Fellows Scholar, among other awards. During summer 2011, she was named a Maguire & Irby Family Foundation Public Service Summer Intern by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at SMU. She will be interning at Swasraya, a school for the mentally disabled in India, where she will design a curriculum and help students in order to promote inclusive education. She also plans to help raise awareness by updating the school’s website and creating brochures and fliers.

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Learning English with Scrabble

Today I was told to look after a class with cerebral palsy for a few hours. There were only three children in this class, who were about 8 years old.

During English class, I noticed that they had a lot of difficulty copying the simple words I gave them, like “cat” and “dog,” but their social skills were much more advanced than I would have expected. One exceptionally talkative boy somehow convinced me that they had done enough work for the day and that they should be allowed to play a game. I looked through the cabinets and came across Scrabble. I figured this could pass for teaching them English and set up the game.

Five minutes later Scrabble pieces were flying across the room and into the hall. Before I could get angry, I was informed that they were not intentionally throwing the pieces, but that children with cerebral palsy do not have control of their muscle movement, which makes it difficult for them to use their hands.

After putting the game away, we spent the rest of the day working on their conversation skills. At the end of the day we managed to have a 2-minute conversation completely in English. Though they might forget what they learned tomorrow, it was still very rewarding to know that for those three hours I was working with them, they were actively learning and applying their knowledge. This also made me realize that though I resented homework all through high school, it is important to practice what you learned in school at home as well to improve progress.

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