Published: 15th November 2017
This Vellore Physics professor taught a class of tribal 12th-graders in rural Assam for a week and now he's lost his heart to them
Noah Eastman is a professor at Voorhees College and an MCC alumnus, and was invited to teach a school in Assam for a week and he can't wait to go back
Twenty-nine-year-old Noah Eastman is a professor of Physics at Voorhees College, Vellore but when he was invited to tutor a class of 12th standard children, he grabbed the opportunity. But why would a college professor be excited about teaching a bunch of 12th graders?
These 12th graders belong to a small school in Karimganj, Assam and they are a diverse lot. The children come from remote tribal communities in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and even from Bangladesh. The Makunda Christian Hospital in Karimganj supports this school and invites volunteers from across the country to tutor the students for their exams, this time one of those people happened to be Eastman, who graduated from the Madras Christian College.
This was not the first time he was getting invited though, "I have been getting invited for the last few years but I haven't been able to go because the College I work at has exams around the same time. But this time, the exam dates were postponed, which was why I was able to take this up." Eastman said he first got to hear about Makunda from some friends who had also volunteered with the hospital.
Getting Physics right: Noah Eastman conducting experiments with the students at Karimganj
"I had heard that since it was quite a remote area, the school didn't have too many teachers and the students could do with some help with Physics. So I decided it would be a good way to do something useful for these children," he explained.
"Doing the same for school children that live close by would have also been useful but there was something about going all the way to Makunda. Especially because students there lack very basic facilities and for some subjects, they don't have a single teacher. The students don't get a chance to learn about experiments or have practical classes, so they required training in these areas," the professor said.
"Since I'm there for such a short while, the students were with me throughout the week. They didn't have any other classes. So I was able to give them my full attention," Eastman said
A lot of the teachers who are invited to teach usually stay for a year but Eastman could only take a week off. But there was an advantage he had, "Since I'm there for such a short while, the students were with me throughout the week. They didn't have any other classes. So I was able to give them my full attention," he added.
The young professor said that what surprised him the most was how despite coming from such diverse cultures, the students didn't seem to feel differently about each other at all. "They were a unit, they didn't seem to think they were in any way different. That truly amazed me, usually in other parts of the country, children are very aware of their difference but here all the children wanted was to study and help each other," Eastman proudly said.
He was especially appreciative of how the Makunda Hospital was running their practice as well as how much service they were providing to the residents. "The people there are economically and educationally backward, their primary occupation is selling pan leaves and bamboo. They barely have any shops and lack basic facilities. But the hospital there takes minimum fees and even with barely any funding they conduct surgeries, they deliver 5000 babies in a year. It was so inspiring to see them work," Eastman recalled.
So will he go back? He promptly replied, "Absolutely!"