Response Magizine Online Logo : Seattle Pacific University

Response Autumn 2007

From the President



Books, Film, & Music



My Response

Letters to the Editor

From the Editor

Response onScreen



Response Home

Seattle Pacific University
Autumn 2007 | Volume 30, Number 2 | Features

Teaching and Learning Among Dalit Children

“One lesson I hadn’t anticipated learning while in India was the value of education.” — Micaella Verro, SPU Junior

Dalit children in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Through the Dalit Freedom Network’s Good Shepherd Schools, children learn self-worth for the first time.
A lot can change in seven weeks — including your understanding of the world. For seven Seattle Pacific University students, a SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout International) trip to the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, in July and August 2007 introduced them to a culture utterly different from their own.

As teachers in the Dalit Freedom Network’s Good Shepherd Schools, the SPU students say they “fell in love” with their pupils, the shy, loving, and generous children of India’s Dalits. Junior Micaella Verro (top left photo, far left) describes the power of education to liberate young Dalit boys and girls from the bonds of poverty and an ancient caste system:

“One lesson I hadn’t anticipated learning while in India was the value of education. I never before realized the rarity of the education with which I have been blessed.

“The movement for empowerment of the most oppressed people in the country, the Dalits, is still in the beginning stages, and education of their youth is the focal point of the movement. Dalit children are normally denied access to education, as well as other basic human rights. But due to the work of the Dalit Freedom Network, schools for these children are opening around the country. I feel so lucky to have been part of this movement. Maybe one of the kids we taught will be the next leader for India!

“The schools focus on teaching the children that they are loved, special, worthy of every right, and can succeed. Before coming to the schools, the kids were taught to believe that they were below animals, sub-human, with no hope for the future, just because they were born into the Dalit caste.

“If you ask Dalit children with no education what they want to be when they grow up, they typically won’t have an answer, because they don’t believe they can achieve anything. But the kids in our schools all had an answer. Many of them want to be doctors, engineers, teachers, or policemen. That these kids even have a dream is a victory.”

— Photos by the SPRINT team

Back to the top
Back to Features Home
SPRINT team members played with Dalit children.
Most of the younger children speak Telugu, not English, yet loved to play games with their SPU teachers.

For more photos, visit the Photography Gallery.