Young women at a rural college in India are missing out on vital learning experiences because of the Covid-19 pandemic - and this is how you can help them.
The Jayaraj Annapackiam College (JAC) for Women is located in picturesque Periyakulam, Tamilnadu, southern India, a two hour drive west from Madurai.
It offers typical undergraduate courses across a range of subjects, and has long been supported by the University through the Global Hope international volunteering programme.
In recent years Hope has sent a contingent of students and staff to the JAC to deliver 45 minute activities or lectures designed to promote English skills - and to help them understand all the quirks and nuances of the English language.
Due to the global pandemic, however, this year’s summer trip has been suspended and put on hold until 2021.
And now Global Hope is appealing for volunteers to deliver these English language sessions via virtual ‘Zoom’ talks instead.
Laura Seddon, Residential Life Coordinator at Hope and lead on the JAC - Global Hope partnership, says the virtual sessions can be on anything the speaker feels passionate about - whether that’s sport, local history, food, or life at the University.
She explains: “In the past these sessions have proved really helpful to the young women at the JAC, and we don’t want them to miss out just because of Covid-19.
“Having a strong understanding of the English language could be vital for students as they look to make a success of their chosen careers, particularly if they plan to work or study internationally.
“They’re particularly interested in the stress and intonation of the speaker and learning about certain idioms or phrases that are alien to them.
“Most of all, they really enjoy learning about different cultures, too.”
Laura has herself visited the JAC - which is run by the Tamil sisters of St Anne’s Convent - on three occasions, immersing herself in the vibrant and colourful world of southern India.
She adds: “The College is located in one of the most rural regions of India,
“And it’s been impacted in a number of ways because of Covid-19. Some students who live on site haven’t been able to get home to their families.
“Meanwhile the Sisters who live on campus have been working hard to safeguard local people who’ve been affected by the pandemic.
“That includes things like feeding the homeless, making their own hand sanitiser and masks to give to locals, and even making sanitary products for the local girls.
“Meanwhile the virtual lecturers are available to anyone at the College who’s interested.
“In previous visits, we’ve found local students are just fascinated to learn about what life is like in England. Many of them have never even seen a white person before.
“They’re interested in our lives and eager to listen.”
There are actually three schools in the JAC group - all run by the convent - with the other two institutions comprising a primary school and a special educational needs (SEN) school.
Meanwhile Global Hope supports a series of projects across the world, in countries such as Peru, Sri Lanka and Brazil.
Many of these initiatives require extra support through the global pandemic, with Dr Peter Angell, a member of the Global Hope Committee, recently commenting: “Whilst it’s important to look after those close to us, it’s also important to remember those in the world who aren’t afforded the support that, far from perfect, we are fortunate to have in the UK.
"Many other countries have no capacity to support furloughed staff, a medical care system that is free to all at the point of need, or even a medical system that is fit-for-purpose.
"So Global Hope is asking that you remember those less fortunate, and in particular our global partners, by helping to provide whatever support you can during these hardest of times."
If you’re interested in providing a virtual talk for the students in India, please email Laura Seddon on firstname.lastname@example.org
To make a financial donation to the Global Hope appeal, click here.