Categorized | Profiles

Music Therapy Student Takes on India

By Lisa Marie Garver
Contributing Writer

While Berklee is full of talented entertainers, it’s also important to appreciate our classmates that are reaching out to spread a little joy and knowledge to those who wish to learn. Jenna Bollard, a 5th-semester vocalist from Bridgewater, CT, is following her dream to make an impact using her devotion to Music Therapy. After saving her summer earnings for two years, she left the modern world of the US to work at Arla Daycare in Palampur, India.

Music Therapy Student Jenna Bollard at Arla Daycare in Palampur, India.

Music Therapy Student Jenna Bollard at Arla Daycare in Palampur, India.

“I already had an interest in helping those less fortunate,” Jenna explained. “And I always had an interest in going to India, so I thought that going to Palampur to teach English would be useful. What better of a way to do that than with music?” With a lot of help from an organization called Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS), and a little bit of help from her classes at Berklee, Jenna was able to plan and book a one-month excursion to this totally foreign land.

While spending much time organizing an education plan and learning Hindi, Jenna discovered that she had a challenge from day one at Arla Daycare. First, she had planned to work with three to six-year-olds, but sometimes found herself working with students of all ages and varied levels of education based on the caste system; she taught a poor 13 year old who had less knowledge of English than a 7 year old that had attended private school. Secondly, she had no teaching experience, which was compounded by the lack of structure at the daycare. But, in true Berklee fashion, she improvised. “It was hard with no teaching experience, but I found that the kids were so attentive and ready and willing to learn.” The next day she came back with blocks of lessons that would help her to reach her goals and allow the students to move through them at their own pace.

With her determination and positive spirit, Jenna was able to teach the children songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and “The Hokey Pokey,” which allowed them to recognize the basic body parts, and also focus on the letters of the alphabet. But she also believes that the exposure to someone from another culture was positive for the students who were from a very rural community.

Jenna will take this experience with her in pursuit of her professional career as a music therapist. “Definitely, for Music Therapy, I will be able to use the international experience and some of the things I learned through trial and error,” Jenna said. “For instance, completely being thrown into things blindly. I’ll be able to use a lot of the skills that I picked up on this trip in my practicum classes. As far as my career at Berklee, coming home and reinforcing how lucky I am to be at Berklee is going to make me work so hard.” She says that not matter what turns her life may take, her career will always coincide with the need to use her privileges to assist those who are less fortunate. In the mean time, she will pass on her experience to other students who may benefit from it as well.

Check out Jenna’s website, and if you are interested in following in her footsteps, visit crossculturalsolutions.org or Teach For India teachforindia.org.

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