Will I do the fellowship again?
“What have you done? Is it a fracture? It better not be a fracture. “ horrified seeing their daughter get down from the taxi my parents reaction was something expected. But what wasn’t expected was that how smoothly the topic started with how did this happen and ended with “I’m glad this fellowship is getting over in 6 months and you’ll stop surprising us like this”.
Something hit me hard about that sentence. A feeling started twirling my stomach like I’m losing something forever. It felt like something is never going to come back again. It took me a while to realize that what hit me hard was the fact that this fellowship had only 6 months left. In a span of 6 months I will stop going to school. I won’t be able to teach my kids again and I will never be the teacher of the school behind the jail.
“Are you okay?” asked dad and with that question tears filled my eyes. Within 15 mins of meeting my parents after 3 months I started crying thinking about my kids whom I won’t be able to teach after 6 months.
“I had told you not to get attached so much.” mom said. “Its hard being a teacher and even harder letting them go.” she said.
After an hour of conversation with my parents I realized that how much this fellowship had changed me as a person. It had made me go through a ride that may be no workplace will ever offer me but the question that started to arise was “Am I ready to take this ride again?” “If given a chance will I ever do the fellowship again?”
I started rewinding my life comparing my self with school, college, corporate life and the fellowship. While in all the other places I grew as a person but in the fellowship I experienced what exponential growth is like. I still remember my first few months of the fellowship where I was still figuring out how on earth can teaching be so tough and if its so tough how it will help me be a leader. The realization was a slow gradual process but what I didn’t realize that the effect of this learning and realization was exponential. By last diwali break I felt like something was changing about me. There was a sudden calmness that was controlling my mind and self. Obviously it had to happen when you are handling 30 high energy kids you only have to be the one who needs to show calmness.
The fellowship didn’t only redefine my idea of the education system or didn’t only expose me to the hard reality of our country but it also redefined my idea of learning. Before for me learning was something that could happen only if someone taught you, but in the fellowship learning is experiential, conversational and a function of self. It made me realize that one doesn’t need to experience hardship in life to learn about it. Sometimes a conversation with a kid in your class or a fellow in your cohort can provide you simple life changing learnings. It made me realize that everything about a leader is a strong concept of a self. You are the best person to achieve anything if you understand the concept of being yourself. Exploring yourself or just appreciating yourself.
Whether it is being out yourself in your classroom so that you put in your best or just being aware of your strengths and self so that it can help you pursue perfect career opportunities.
Soon I was engrossed in the concept of self (I still am). My work which involved me being myself took most of my time. “You are not aware of whats happening around. You just think you are smart in your own world” was something that one of my friend had said last year and that got me thinking if its true. I consciously started observing myself as a person and my opinions. I realized that the fellowship had made me question things which were important but I never acknowledged. Apart of being aware of myself I was also aware of things that one should be but due to our ignorance we aren’t. Whether it was just acknowledging the pain of an old woman or understanding the root cause of a problem which led to a business idea. Fellowship made my ‘why’ of doing things stronger than ever. Which eventually led to making crucial decisions in a simple manner and without regrets. Isn’t this that we all want?
When I think of fellowship I think about the morning 7.05am school behind the Yerwada jail where 30 kids are eagerly waiting to see me. I think about the time where I have had the most satisfying day ever. I think about my breakdowns, my success, my numerous failures, my kids parents who treated me like I was a part of them, around 150 -200 human connections that I make in my school. I think about the government teachers who are not giving up despite of any challenges. I think about the houses of my kids where I have spent days and nights feeling the safest. This is just a part of the fellowship
Similarly when I think about the fellowship I think about the diverse people I met on my day one of training from a clinical psychological student to a retired teacher. I think about the immense hard work young individuals put every single day to carry forward this movement. I think about my cohort 2016 of around 120 people only in Pune and still I remember almost everyone. I think about my flatmates whom I met accidently but are my only family in Pune. I think about conversations that have redefined my definitions so many times. I think about managers who are just responsible for our development making sure that kids develop with us. I think about every retreat, city conference, sharing circles, reflection circles, Personal theory of change sessions, Technical skills sessions, Community development sessions, Be the change project workshops, student leadership meetings, personal development meetings and everything that has been created for us to make sure that we have an exponential learning.
Without denying when I think of fellowship I think about how much effort each fellow does which motivates you to be the best out there. I think about how we are constantly evolving, exploring our selves, our values, our interests, our passions, our strengths, our relationships. I think about how we are changing the world in the process of evolving. Its very difficult to zoom out and believe but in a way its absolutely true. When I had applied I had my share of doubts about the fellowship but I’m glad that I didn’t miss this chance of exploring myself while changing the lives of our future leaders.
So will I take this ride again? Will I do it again?
My answer is when can I start again.