|4 Mar 2022
|Old Girls' Association
Celia Fisher runs a school in rural India which she and her husband established in 2009. The school stands as a model for making a positive impact at the local community level in a country where students learn only by heart and are not taught to critically assess their learning or form their own opinion.
Celia moved to Australia in 1973, where she and her Australian husband brought up their five children. The whole family first travelled to India in 1995, and Mark and Celia have lived there on and off for the past 23 years.
Celia’s husband built the classrooms and the playground area of the school in the state of Megahalaya in the north east of the country. It now educates 60 students up to year 5. In addition to integrating the local curriculum with phonic-based reading and writing tuition, art, craft, song and dance, Celia also mentors former pupils in their ongoing studies and trains her local teachers.
Although now officially past retirement age and with six grandsons, Celia still finds reward and fulfilment in imparting learning with understanding. Of her pupils, she says: Their homes are very basic – they don’t have running water, an inside bathroom or the finances for proper nutrition – but their warmth and enthusiasm captures your heart.
In the 1960s, Celia found at St Swithun’s a rewarding and enriching environment. She says of that time: I met so many wonderful girls and formed lasting friendships and good memories that have never faded despite the years. An important lesson I learned at school was to keep going whatever, to always aim to do your best and to stay true to yourself. You learn and grow by your mistakes but no-one should ever feel like a failure. As a Christian, these have proved to be the best principles for me to live by.
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