TO ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS, WE MUST NOT ONLY ACT BUT ALSO DREAM. WE MUST NOT ONLY PLAN, BUT ALSO BELIEVE!
TEACH FOR INDIA FELLOW, PURVEE CHAUHAN, SPEAKS OF WHAT MOTIVATED HER TO GO THE EXTRA MILE DURING HER FELLOWSHIP.
The unique Fellowship experience in Kuber Nagar English School No. 4 Ahmedabad, a dilapidated government school in a community of illegal alcohol brewers, auto-rickshaw drivers and food cart owners, has had a great impact on my personality and mindset. Amidst an innumerable number of challenges, I made an immense amount of effort to get my kids to where they are today. It is with a lot of passion and a lot of love that I taught them.
Initially, it was difficult to balance work and self and to also keep up with the pace at which everything was happening. It was a lot more difficult to create and grade assessments until midnight whilst still waking up at 6 AM to go to the school, open the lock and clean the facility all by myself. Gradually, I began to see happy faces coming to school and my dream for student leadership coming to life. Now Anjali, a mere 6 year old, has started to teach her mother at home and 7 year old Avchal instructs big boys and girls on how to keep their classroom clean. From running around the classroom to taking ownership of their learning, our students have come a long way. My whole life revolved around these kids. Around Sagar who would wave ‘hello’ as he saw me approaching the school every morning. Around Raju, who would help me pack up the class after school and only leave after I had. I have loved them for who they are.
There were many times where I was struggling to figure out what to prioritize and how to multi-task, but through this journey I have changed in ways that are inexplicable. The kids have been my friends and my strongest supporters. I was their first subject as they wrote about “My Favorite Superhero”. I remembered to smile back at them. I was overjoyed and danced when they accomplished something and I talked to them if they were going wrong. As I planned my lessons I kept in mind that children must be taught how to think and not what to think. I listened. I understood. I believed.
I gave them a lot of freedom to explore, because that’s how they learnt the most. Riya likes to sit under the table and work; it is her favorite place. Shivam does not like to go home at the end of school, so don’t force him to go – please understand that there is no one waiting for him at home. Meera and Gyali will pretend to be extremely attentive, but make sure you check on them during the lesson…time and again. A couple of times I saw Ritik and Roshan sitting at the windowsill during recess, peeping outside the window – this served as a reminder to me to take the kids out for some time and just play with them. Anjali and Neha are always to be found engaged in reading or solving sums – I made note to take their help to teach the other kids in class!
Through my Fellowship, I just believed. I kept on telling myself – “If you have made it this far, you can make it anywhere. Believe in yourself, believe in your capabilities, believe in your dreams. Because you will become what you believe in.”
As I step into the new phase of my life and embark on a new journey with courage and determination, I would just like to reflect on what Rudyard Kipling once said –
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Written by Purvee Chauhan