The Environmental Factor
It is said that a child brought up amidst violence will most probably take to it too. But we are also aware that education acts as an eye opener to many. It catalyses change in societies and ushers a future filled with possibilities. What if all of this is as true as Emmanuel Goldstein in the Orwellian state? An illusion created by a few to control the many? Seems too far fetched but I sometimes see it materialize in class.
As a step towards exposing the kids to the world outside their community, we took them to India’s best law school. The idea was to show them that there exists a very harmonious society where knowledge and values go hand in hand, where peaceful coexistence is a reality. Also, it is a great way for them to see things that they can aspire for, to experience the life of their possible future self. Witnessing things that defy what they learn at school, these kids fail to see the real purpose of education and this visit was an attempt to break that mindset.
Excited and overly enthusiastic about going out, every single kid had a unique expectation from the trip. All they knew/thought was it was a college for law and that the students there read big books. Overwhelmed at the very entrance, one particularly sceptical kid came up to me and said, “Where is the principal of this college? I want to give him a letter.” He had doubted the purpose of the visit. He thought it was just a picnic. But now, he had found a reason to persevere in class. The gate of this college itself was as big as the road leading to his house, he pointed out. This was what he aspired for now. A bigger place for himself and his family.
Finding two friends in this class of 32 is a difficult task. It is in no way their fault either. They just emulate what they experience everyday. When I tell them that being good friends is helpful in many ways and I even give them solid examples, it is difficult for them to believe it because it is not true for them outside of school. There are people vying for blood out there for them. It is but obvious for them to keep everyone at a distance. But this trip brought out a new side in them. As they all toured the campus and interacted with the many students living there, each one of them was able to see the growth education had provided. The law students too were very happy helping them figure out answers to questions ranging from “How much do I need to study to come here?” to “Why do we need lawyers?”.
Having been exposed to an environment that is filled with positive culture and enabling relations, every single kid was able to create a vision for himself/herself. There was no one who was left out. They all seemed to have forgotten their personal vendettas. They helped each other navigate through the bombardment of life skills in front of them. I saw them reaching out to each other in ways I couldn’t have imagined. They were united. They all shared the same aspiration. To grow out of their current selves and reach a modern, more happier state. May be this was unconscious, but it was true for that entire day. Some of them found their role models in the people they met, some found reasons to work hard but what almost everybody found, was a reason to believe!
A heartfelt thank you to all the volunteers who interacted with the kids! You have without a doubt achieved much more than what I have in the past 2 months. You have given me something that I needed desperately, a hope for these tiny powerhouses! I now know that I need to build a stronger, safer and more positive environment for these kids so they’re enabled not only in terms of knowledge and skills but also in terms of aspirations and dreams for themselves!