What is “ven”?

I was hoping that you could tell me that…


Over the coming week we are going to post some stories from our times on Action Teams. These stories will be random and hopefully funny, but I hope that you will get a sense of what Action Teams is like through them.


Okay so I’m going to set the scene for this here story –

We had been in India for a few weeks and were now teachers of our own classes in the school. It was a boiling afternoon and Cody had started her lesson not knowing what was coming. She had the youngest class, ages 3-7, so as you can imagine their English was more or less non-existent. To make matters worse our Hindi was almost as non-existent as the kids English. So that is how this story came about…


Cody was still finding her feet in her class and was trying to gauge their level of English. The lesson planned for the day was recapping the alphabet before getting the kids to name something that began with each letter of the alphabet. They almost made it through the alphabet without incident. Then came V. The letter of nightmares.

Class 1a. Everyone would say that their class was their favourite, but we did leave a piece of hearts with our classes.

Cody turned to her class and said “V is for…” A tiny pause before one kid shouts “ven.” You can imagine the confusion that followed. “You mean vent?” Cody asked. All the class then replied “No, VEN.” The look upon Cody’s face must have said it all. A kid with a flair for the dramatic then started to mime. He spread his hands shoulder width apart, them turned them from side to side. Cody was still lost. Some of you at this point probably know what it is the kids were trying to say at this point. If you’re not the sharpest tool (like Cody) then you will have no idea, but all will be revealed shortly.

The kids were so passionate and joyful in everything they did.

The class erupted with a roar of “Raju, ven.” At this point Cody was doubting her own knowledge of the English language. Was it possible that these kids knew of a word that she didn’t? Well she supposed that they might. She picked up the chalk and etched the word “ven” that the children then all copied into their books.

Playing games was some of our favourite times.

School finished and the kids all went home happy thinking “ven” was a word. That night Cody was chatting to Amy about how weird her class were that day. She exclaimed “They were saying that ven was a word, and they said something about Raju.” Amy took one look and Cody and laughed. Amy knew what they had meant.


It should have clicked with Cody. Raju was the team’s driver after all…


All that time the kids were meaning “van”.  And Cody learned that day that she was a numpty.


On Action Teams you often make a fool of yourself. You go out to your country expecting there to be a language barrier, but not expecting that language to be English. Whoever did let Cody teach a class anyway?


Keep a look out for some other stories coming your way this week!