I applied for Teach for India 2015 fellowship and was lucky enough to get selected for the same :) I had to write three essays for the application in the first stage of the selection process. Out of the three this is my personal favorite. Please read below the topic and the essay :) Happy reading!
Topic Given :
Topic Given :
Please tell us about a substantial commitment you've made in the last 4 years (but from no earlier than undergraduate level). This commitment should be one which at times presented you with challenges and it should be a commitment lasting for no less that one month total. Please ensure you explain: - The commitment you made and why you feel it is substantial (this may include the amount of time it took, your specific role, input/actions required etc.) - The challenges you faced - How you felt about these challenges and what you did as a result (please be specific about related actions taken, if any) - The ultimate outcome and how you felt about this.
Working on all weekdays, I ensured my weekends were fun filled- outing and partying with my school and college friends. (Of course, this is not the substantial commitment I am going to talk about!) I managed to plan the get-togethers so well that I was convinced I mastered the art of planning. But BOOM! All the castles I built about my planning ability collapsed terribly. There were so many clashes, last minute cancellations. Most annoying among them were my juniors. One called me to inform that she was busy on Saturdays and other buzzed me saying she was booked on Sunday mornings. Passed fresh out of college and waiting for call letters, I wondered what on earth kept them busy. A sneak peek- WOW! They were volunteering in various NGOs. The bulb in my mind glowed. “Why don’t you give a try?” my mind echoed. “Huh? You just have 24 hours a day and not 36” my brain tried to convince my mind. “So does the others” my mind pounced back. Immediately I surfed for NGOs and completed my registrations.
Life treats you with surprises when you least expect it, they say. Two months later when I hardly remembered about the registrations I received a message asking to attend the orientation. I was excited, thrilled but at the same time afraid! I had to attend this all by self. But my curiosities arouse and my interest to do something different helped me overcome my glitches and there I was in NGO office room waiting to get oriented. A quick walkthrough about the NGO and few questions and teaching session, I was in. They asked me to select the subject that I was willing to handle. I personally felt English language is of prime importance as it is the universal language and quite indispensable these days. Aiding the kids with English learning will help build their confidence, shatter their inferiority complex and take them to places. So, I chose English among Maths, Science, English and computer Science.
Soon life slapped me into shape. I felt this decision was substantial one for me as well as the kids. Born to teachers, I believe teaching is in my blood. I am always fascinated towards it. I realised this volunteering helped in revitalising the teacher in me. I had prior experiences of helping children around my area with their education for two consecutive years and so I was confident I would be a dedicated tutor. I also wanted to give back something to the society. I believed that something can be nothing better than an excellent education. Hence I wanted to utilise this opportunity to explore more into the educational field.
First few weeks were damn interesting and I enjoyed all the attention and affection that I received. I enjoyed the classes as much as the kids enjoyed my company. But then there were few internal and external factors. Since the classes were on weekend and evenings, there were other activities that demanded my attention. Sometimes it was a family get together or friend’s marriage or work that posed serious challenges. Other times it was the internal factors. I was either too lazy or too tired to get my cart rolling. Hat trick! I had to forgo three classes due to these factors. I realised a part in me started to miss my kids and the quality time spent with them. So I made sure I was there the following Saturday. I felt guilty for skipping classes and thus with some inhibitions I reached the centre. I was flocked by the kids in a jiffy. After the class I noticed something exhilarating. The kids were playing and singing rhymes that I taught them. Not just the kids to whom I taught the songs but the entire lot!?! I was satisfied that I just dint entertain them but also educated them! The kids who were using their regional language now tried and learnt new words in some form! ‘There is always difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, You do it only when it’s convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results’. Thus at that moment, my interest turned into a commitment and for past ten months I have been associated with SPEAK OUT – An Initiative by BHUMI NGO to teach English to kids.
Another hurdle I had to cross was getting the attention of the kids to make them learn the language .As it was no classroom program, it was quite difficult to actually focus on teaching. Some of the kids were also not on par with their grade level and they were interested in regional language than English. If you don’t tell stories in Tamil then you might probably end up addressing an empty hall. But where there is a will there is a way. With little homework, I managed to find games and shortcuts to grab the attention. In some kids, I find a true commitment to learn and I am sure the day where this reflects among other kids is not very far!