Ajey Balaji: His Unflinching Love For Teaching French | Aga Khan Academies

Ajey Balaji: His Unflinching Love For Teaching French

Ajey Balaji, who hails from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, joined AKA Hyderabad in 2013. He is a French language facilitator, form tutor for grade 11 and the Academy’s fervent Francophile. Ajey holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and did his post graduation in medical microbiology until finally deciding to pursue several specialised certifications and degrees in French. Currently, Ajey is a PhD scholar at the University of Artois, France. 

Ajey’s professional journey into teaching French at the Academy happened much later in life. He moved to Hyderabad in 2000 after having found work at a laboratory. “When I moved to this city, I was working for a lab producing vaccines for cattle. As a matter of fact, my first friends and colleagues in Hyderabad were hamsters, rabbits and sheep!” Ajey recalls with a smile.

He channeled his spare time by successfully completing an advanced diploma in French language and civilisation in 2003. However, Ajey being a man of determination and dedication didn’t quite stop there. His journey towards mastering the language gained traction at the University of Nantes in France, where he obtained a master’s degree. His master's dissertation on “The linguistics of medical evaluation forms in French for doctors and nurses aspiring to work in francophone countries” is now a textbook on the subject. And, in the midst of this whirlwind French romance, he secured a position at the Academy in 2013. “I had finally found my calling,” he says.

Today, Ajey is one of the most adored members of the teaching staff, praised for his abilities in pedagogy and for his abilities in baking in equal amounts. “Having worked all my professional life with adults, I was uncertain of rising to the challenges of teaching at a school. However, Ms. Meenakshi Joshi (MYP coordinator) set the tone for my MYP journey. Thanks to her unfaltering faith in my abilities, today, I have discovered the innate paternal instincts in me. This challenge has taught me a precious lesson that it is important to nurture equally both, a child’s emotional and academic well-being.”

His innate talent for French has garnered him many exciting opportunities. One such recognition that he cherishes the most was his appointment as an official interpreter for eight senators of the Republic of France who visited Hyderabad on a diplomatic mission. One of the meetings he translated for was with the activist Ms. Sunitha Krishnan, a co-founder of Prajwala, an NGO that rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates sex-trafficked victims into society.

The academic year 2018-19 has been fantastic for Ajey as he accomplished many professional titles and international recognitions. For instance, this year saw his selection by the Embassy of France in India for the teacher training program at the Centre for Applied Linguistics in the city of Besançon, France. This position enables him to be trained under a pedagogical expert from the International Centre for Pedagogical Studies, Sèvres, France which will help him soar higher as a master teacher in French at a national level.

Also this year, Ajey has had the distinction of working as a teacher-mentor; being a referent translator-interpreter; and working as a jury member of the examiners of the DELF-DALF exams of the Ministry of National Education, Government of France. These are benchmark achievements in the field of French language acquisition. Reflecting upon the year, Ajey states, “The unconditional love and acceptance I receive from my students is the best testimony to my professional accomplishments.” 

Should you find yourself in the dining hall during lunchbreak, you would find Ajey walking ahead followed by a trail of grade 7 students. The convoy travels from Senior School like an excited atom with Ajey as its nucleus and orbiting around him are a bunch of recent Junior School graduates, all immersed in deep conversation. At their lunch table, students will sit flanking Ajey on either side and sharing key insights of the day.

Post lunch, the crew may take a couple of minutes to test if the tree outside the Commons is still sturdy enough to hold a few 7th graders. On a hot summer day, Ajey will join them at basecamp under the benevolent shade of the tree, deeply invested in both, the safety of the children and to see just how far they can go.