|Miss Shermila taught me when I was 5. Today I returned to her classroom not as a student but in an effort to open the minds of the next generation|
|A section of my discerning audience.|
|Talking about BIG things like blue whales (I was sweating profusely because I was having so much fun)|
|Props are important when talking to kids. If my silliness drives them to follow their hearts - so be it!|
|Listening to stories, answering questions|
Today I returned to the classroom of Mrs. Shermila Rajaratnam - my teacher at Ladies' College when i was 5 years old. Since then she has opened up a school of her own, where she grooms the future generations of our world. I was extremely excited and honoured to be invited back to give two talks. The kids ranged from age 3-6 and were incredible to be around.
Luckily for me I am a hoarder and have a number of sea creature stuffed toys that make great props. It also helps that being silly is partly my thing. Flip flopping around in my mask and fins may be the only thing that these kids remember - in which case, I will not have failed.
A few of the memorable moments included -
1. when a kid told me that whales had holes on their heads and water comes out (I showed him a photo of a whale blowing and explained how the hole was its nose and that it was his breath), then he got up a few minutes later and told me that dolphins also had the same hole on their head that they breathed through and I was so pleased and then he stood up a third time and told me that tigers also had a hole on their heads through which water came out...yes I did correct him on that one.
2. When a little boy stood up and told me that his dad had gone to the sea and seen a shark and the shark had eaten a turtle and a fish and a tortoise and a dolphin......that must have been one HUNGRY shark!
3. When one little boy told me that he had had a dream of a whale...and the whale was really big....and it was green! (I did tell him that imagination was important and it was fine that his whale was green especially in his dream)
4. When a little girl told me she had seen a sea snake and about 15 others also put their hands up and started telling me they had seen sea snakes
5. When a little boy told me he wanted to be a marine biologist when he grew up and another immediately told me he wanted to study planets
6. When one little girl told me she had lots of fish and when I asked what their names were...she thought long and hard and said.... gold fish!
7. When I told them that the sea horse was the only animal in the world that the daddy carried the babies and this little boy put his hand up and said 'when I was small I was in my ammi's (mother's) bundy (stomach) and then she went to hospital and they cut her stomach and took me out'. I told him that if thats how his mum said it happened, then thats exactly what happened.
8. When, at the end, this little boy came and gave me a truly beautiful bouquet of yellow flowers.
What a day. My whale journey began at the age of 6. I hope that today I have inspired at least one of these kids to join me on my quest in the future.
Thank you Miss Shermila for the great opportunity and for playing a role in who I have become today!