The heart of Shanti Bhavan is its academic building, the dormitories, and the canteen. They are the vibrant center of campus, where the children and staff live, laugh, and learn.
The central academic building where students from 2nd grade to 12th grade attend their classes is a two-story building with ten classrooms, each equipped with smart boards and individual desks. The academic building also has a big courtyard where the kids, staff, and faculty gather every morning to learn about what’s happening at the school and in the world. This daily assembly is integral to creating a sense of community at Shanti Bhavan.
On the first floor of the building, you’ll find the classrooms for grades 2-7. Brightly colored posters and decorations fill the younger students’ classrooms, adding vibrancy to their learning environment. This floor is also where the library, art room, music room, and one computer lab are located. Additionally, the first floor is home to the school nurse’s office and some administrative offices.
The second floor houses the older students’ classrooms, a second computer lab, Dr. George’s office, the chemistry labs, and the staff room where you’ll find the teachers and volunteers taking breaks to grade homework and prepare for their classes.
On many school days and after hours, you can hear the angelic voices of Shanti Bhavan’s choir echoing from the music room. Students begin their musical journey here as early as the 3rd grade as they learn to play instruments such as the violin, maracas, flute, drum, piano, and more—much of which has been gifted by our incredible donors! Students also learn to sing, and those that have a particular interest audition for the school choir that participates in local competitions.
After a long day of learning and playing, the kids retire to one of Shanti Bhavan’s dormitories.
The pre-school dorm is two stories tall and has two rooms, one for the girls and one for the boys. Several aunties take care of the kids, and each of the rooms has ten to fifteen beds, a western-style bathroom, nightstands, showers, a TV room, and of course, storage for their belongings and their precious stuffed animals. Upstairs is the preschool classroom, where students learn the alphabet and how to read and play. The aunties that teach the children also live in the dorms with them.
Kids from 1st grade to 5th grade live in one of the mixed dorms. In the mixed dorms, the girls’ rooms are separate from the boys’ rooms. The layout is similar to the preschoolers’ rooms, except some rooms have bunk beds, and instead of a classroom on the top floor, there are lounges and a TV room. Harry Potter marathons are a favorite on the weekends! There is usually a mix of children of similar ages in these dorms. An older student, along with an auntie, sleeps in the younger kids’ rooms in case the kids need anything.
The remaining dorms on-campus house the middle and high school boys or middle and high school girls. Each dorm also has a courtyard where the kids grow flowers and care for plants.
All of the teaching staff and the volunteers stay in one of the residential facilities. These are typically two-story buildings with single rooms that can fit three people and have attached bathrooms and showers. Each building also has a shared lounge where the staff can rest and relax. Since everyone eats at the canteen, there isn’t a kitchen in these buildings. There is also separate housing for the non-academic staff, such as the security guards and the kitchen staff, scattered around campus.
Everyone gathers together for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks at the canteen, located at the center of campus. The aunties serve all the kids, teachers, volunteers, and staff. There’s an open kitchen, where you can see the fresh food from the organic farm as it’s prepared. Even though there is designated seating, kids often invite their teachers to their tables to eat with them during dinner.
Where to Next?
There’s much more to see on the Shanti Bhavan campus! If you’d like to continue your journey, check out part two of this essay.