Journey worth reminiscing :)
It was one of the few holidays which signifies the perks of being a teacher. I was strangely in a critically reflective mode where I was wondering the impact I have created after joining Teach For India. It has been 17 months since I joined Teach For India and the reality was depressing as the scores of the children were too low and hardly satisfied my expectations. They have been a curious, exciting, naive and energetic boys who hardly had any iota of self awareness despite that being the mantra throughout this journey with them.
I was unhappy when looking at the impact I have created and even went on to question my own ideologies and beliefs which prompted me to become a teacher in an underprivileged setting. I was completely at loss to explain to my father, who asked me today, what all changes did you bring in the lives of the children you teach. Yes, I did do a flurry of initiatives with the boys and cared deeply emotionally about them but is there anything quantifiably comforting which I can share from this journey ? Yes, I grew immensely as a person and changed for the better for the people around me. Agreed, but did I better the children’s lives or just merely existed as a teacher in their lives for the past 1.5 years ? The latter thought haunted me and made me feel miserable as the stakes I left for them where high.
Today morning, I was very uncomfortable as I thought about what I had planned to do in the next 6 months with them. I even questioned my slowly diminishing intrinsic motivation. Then, I received a call from a boy’s parent and I picked up the call reluctantly as I felt it would be the usual “school epa sir ?” “Payan, epdi padikran sir ?” which used to bore me to death. Call was from the mother of the kid Vijay who spoke to me in a polite voice about when the school was reopening. I retorted immediately and planned to cut the call quickly when she asked me “sir innum oru varusham engaloda iruka laaam la sir ?”. I asked her surprisingly what made her feel in that way as there will be only 6 more months before I finish teaching them. Her son Vijay apparently wants to change the school as he could not bear with a classroom without me as a teacher after I leave by april. I was literally shocked and I even had doubts about her point and I even openly conveyed it to her. Then the boy’s father picked up the phone and told me those magical words which made my day. It was that the boy idolizes me and loves to come to school just because of me. He doesnt like anything else in the school except for me being a teacher for him. He requested me to stay for one more year as they were afraid that he might stop going to school after I leave. I was shell shocked to hear that the boy had said such words. In a cliched manner, I consoled the parents that everything will be alright even if I leave as there are equally equipped or even better equipped teachers available to handle him in the future grades.
That one call made my day indeed. It made me think deeper as a person about the impact I have made on them. I did not make the boys the best in academics, sports or any extra curricular activities etc.. but I did strive to bring the humane side out of them. I tried teaching what it is to be an empathetic human who understands the pains of others and genuinely tries to help them. I tried teaching them what it is to be an intensely self aware kid who does not leave his ambition just because a neighbouring uncle or a bully said him he cannot. I did strive hard to make them a better person and in the process I have grown to be a better human being. Time will only tell what all the seeds I have planted will finally add upto. Indeed, I am confident that they will become wonderful human beings who will make me proud of their amazing deeds they are going to accomplish in their journeys. It gives me immense motivation and strength to move further in this journey :)