Travel Bursary Sarah Bailey

BA (Hons) Fine Art alumna, Sarah Bailey, applied to complete an internship at the Oberoi International School in Mumbai.

We caught up with her to find out more about her time there:

“I had no idea what to expect when I moved to Mumbai to begin my internship with Oberoi International School (OIS). I had travelled a fair bit in and around Europe, but I’d never been to Asia, much less to the culture shock that is India – and particularly Mumbai. And while I was beyond excited to go, I’d also been told it would be dirty and noisy and crammed and possibly unsafe to go out alone (and what was the point of going if I couldn’t go out by myself?).

I’d been obsessively checking the weather forecast, dreading the monsoon heat and humidity. But as I descended through the clouds and into view of the city, what struck me was how colourful and vibrant it seemed. The city is almost an island, surround by mangroves and crammed full of lush foliage in the monsoon season. As I drove to the apartment provided to me by the school, I saw the dirt and the noise and chaos I’d been warned of, but it was so energetic and exciting that I was simply fascinated by it.

Everything grows and happens organically here: the shiny new skyscrapers sit on top of the slums; the road markings are ignored in favour of making the most of every inch of tarmac; and cats, dogs, monkeys and leopards jostle for space with their human neighbours. It was unlike anything I’d seen before. And the food! The food is amazing!

Neha greeted me on my first day in the city and made me feel at home straight away. She is an incredibly kind and generous person and within the first week of my stay I felt like her baby.

Everyone at OIS is so welcoming and helpful that I never felt alone or overwhelmed during my stay, and they made the entire experience a lot of fun. I also had a fantastic roommate who was student teaching at the school at the same time as I was there.

I had lots of opportunities to attend social events, go on beautiful hikes, help with charity projects, eat lots of food and enjoy the city. I also made sure that I visited as many places outside Mumbai as I could, since travel within India is fairly cheap (you can catch a flight to Delhi for about £25!)

The school itself is also impressive, containing every grade from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, and the students are intelligent and engaged young people who are a lot of fun to work with. In my case, I worked closely with the IB students in 11th and 12th grade throughout my stay, and the small size of the classes and their interest in art made them a delight to teach.

I planned a whole series of workshops with them, from plaster casting to life drawing, and it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. The students have for the most part responded well to every lesson I’ve led, with a lot of them developing these new skills into completed studio works.

In the five months that I interned in the Visual Arts department, I was able to plan units, teach every grade from 6 to 12, collaborate with other departments, and observe lessons in other subjects. The school day starts at 7:30am and finishes at 4:10. On a typical day I would have time to plan my lessons, observe other teachers, teach a class, and assist the art teachers with various different tasks like putting up art on display around the school.

I became familiar with the IB, IGCSE and MYP curriculums for Visual Arts and I was also able to see how the PYP Art teachers taught and managed their classes with the smaller kids. I had so many opportunities to learn and participate in art and non-art-related activities that it honestly feels like I wouldn’t be able to get the same quality of experience anywhere else.

I have had the freedom to make suggestions to Neha and the other Visual Arts teachers on what I’d like to learn and achieve, and they’ve always been very accommodating and encouraging. I can feel the progress I’ve made planning and delivering lessons appropriate to the age and abilities of my students, and I’m much more confident in my teaching approach.

I have learned so much not just about teaching, but about how to approach my own professional and personal development for the future. Before this internship, I hadn’t been aware that teaching internationally was an option, and now it’s a path I fully intend to pursue.

I would whole-heartedly recommend this internship to anyone with an interest in teaching as it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow as a person while travelling at the same time.”