Subhas Yadav, a PhD graduate from Centre for Comparative Literature in 2021 and guest faculty at the same centre ( 2021-2022) is currently in Valencia on the Spanish government’s Auxiliar programme for English, where he is placed to teach English at a CAES (Centro de Acción Educativa Singular) named Sección del IES Doctor Peset Aleixandre in la Coma. He is the first foreign English teacher at the Centre, which also offers vocational courses, something similar to ITI and Diploma programmes in India and learning a foreign language could change the life of its students.
La Coma is the most marginalised neighbourhood of Valencia with mostly Romani or Gypsy (now a pejorative term) and other migrant populations. It is considered the most dangerous neighbourhood not only in the Valencia city but the whole of the province. Romanis, known as Gitanos, have been suffering various forms of discrimination since the middle ages and they are scarcely integrated into mainstream society. After hearing the word Spain, their music Flamenco might come to our mind, which is used as cultural diplomacy with India by the Spanish embassy in New Delhi, but their social reality is starkly harsh.
He accepts that it was a tough challenge at the beginning because most of the students come from broken, violent, crime and drug ridden families, but a person with high determination and strong zeal for teaching, he feels satisfied after seeing substantial results. He also developed a project on Caló – Hindi, as the Gitanos have their roots in India and wandered towards Europe before or after the times of Delhi sultanate, perhaps in various waves. As they entered Europe during the Islamic dominance in northern Africa, they were mistakenly called Egyptians thereby various derivations in different European languages such as Gypsy, Cigano, Gitano, Roma, Colons, Bohemians, Zingaro etc. and became Europe’s internal Others. Little is discussed about their extermination by the Nazis.
Subhas cooked Indian food for the students, tried giving the students an exposure to the Indian festivals, its cultural diversity and most importantly launched an activity called“1 minute English challenge.” Along the time the resistance toward English and an Indian teacher (he had to hear racial slurs, offensive remarks very often at the beginning) was diminished and he was able to achieve students speaking in front of camera for more than 10 minutes which were projected at the award ceremony of the contest on 31 May, 2023. The school director called it a trabajazo (a big work) and everyone was amazed at the result at the end.
Considering the respect one earns inside an Indian classroom, he accepts that it has been the toughest challenge of his life so far, and it made him realise how India is a privileged place to be a teacher. He looks forward to developing a project in collaboration with several Roma NGOs and providing free online English classes for the students of the neighbourhood in the near future.