Fresh out of college, I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, as does everyone; I just didn’t know what it was going to be. At this confused stage, I heard about TFI and knew that this was it! Their unwavering faith in education and their belief in how it could impact each child’s future echoed my sentiments exactly.
Our journey began in May…
I felt that now was my chance to do something for the less privileged part of society while receiving huge dividends in return, and TFI was the perfect means to achieve this end.
During Institute, we had an opportunity to interact with some of the best minds and hearts that anyone could offer. Their views gave me something to think over and accept or reject as I saw fit. This experience helped to broaden my outlook to a great extent.
Although some sessions at institute brought out the irate poet in me…
Sleeping at 2 and waking up at first light,
Devika and Vijay blurring out of sight:
Into our sessions wholeheartedly I have dived,
But now I am desperately sleep deprived.
Talking about geogo, civics and history,
To me it is an absolute mystery;
Explaining in greatest detail the mind maps,
All of my energy it totally saps.
The value of this session I can’t fathom,
Though for a moment there I thought I had ‘em;
Though I’m trying hard to keep my eyes open,
It feels like in the dark I am just gropin.
More than half the Pune team has bunked this class,
To me it seems like a great and complete farce;
The second hand on my watch just seems to creep,
Really, I wish I were in bed and sound asleep.
…By and large Institute was one of the most enriching experiences I have had the opportunity to go through. It equipped me with skills I would not only need in school but through life.
To be Patient: Teaching children who didn’t understand a word of English, I thought I knew what it meant to be patient… Till I realized how patiently those children were listening to me blabber in a language that was alien to them.
To Persevere: Teaching children who were more than 2 grade levels behind, I thought I knew what it meant to persevere… Till I realized how much those children must have persevered to cover a 2 month curriculum in 2 weeks.
To Love: Teaching children who were covered in snot and filth and who I still adored, I thought I knew what it meant to love… Till I realized how unconditionally those children loved a total stranger for no apparent reason whatsoever.
To have Humility: Teaching children innovatively and watching them make huge headway as a result and yet remaining grounded and modest, I thought I knew what it meant to have humility… Till I was truly humbled by an angelic smile and a shy ‘thank you didi.’
To be grateful: Teaching children who had 3 sets of clothes and no family, I was appreciative of what I had and I thought I knew what it meant to be grateful… Till I understood true gratitude when I saw it in the eyes of a child accepting 2 biscuits from me.
I realized I wasn’t a part of this movement because I wanted to make the world or our country a better place, but because I wanted to live in a better place.
All the lessons I learnt, the sense of possibility, but also the sense of urgency that was instilled, made me enter my new school thinking “How can I afford not to make this work??”
Five months into teaching at Rashmi English Medium School…
Throughout this period I have been making a constant effort to try and make my children more competent and less helpless. At the same time it was a struggle not to overestimate my students academically or underestimate them intellectually. All of this with the ultimate goal of not only allowing, but helping them to stand on my shoulders and look much farther and higher than I ever have.
While I’m reflecting about everything I’ve done and how much I am investing in the experience, I am reminded that time and time again, almost every single day, I am receiving from my peers, from the people around me and most importantly from my students, more than tenfold of what I am giving.
The journey so far has been very challenging and even more enriching and I am looking forward to a meaningful, fulfilling and fun-filled one and a half years.
Fellow, Teach For India.