By Apoorv Shah, graduate from GNLU
It was the last year of my law school journey. Everyone around me was busy touching up their CV. I had already decided what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach. I don’t know when it got into my head that I wanted to work in the education sector and teach but once it did, it refused to go away.
I applied for the Teach For India fellowship. It is without a doubt one of the finest fellowship programs our country has to offer. The structure of the fellowship, the clarity of thought among everyone working for the organisation and just the opportunity the fellowship provides is almost unparalleled.
I went to Flame University in Pune for my 6 week training program before the actual teaching started. They were probably the most productive 6 weeks of my life. I worked 15 hours a day and still I was not cribbing. I was happy. I was learning so many things every day that now if I still look back at those days, I still remember something new that I learnt at that time.
People were amazing. My cohort of fellows was probably the most diverse bunch of people I had ever met in terms of things that people had done before joining the fellowship.
I was allotted a school in Malad area of Mumbai. Divine Child High School. I was told that I will be teaching 7th grade kids. I did not know what to expect so I went with an open mind. The school is bang in the middle of a slum. All my students come from a one kilometre radius of the school.
I was overwhelmed to say the least. Although I did not know how amazing the students were and how they would turn my life upside down. Its been a little more than a year since I first saw them. I now know all of them well. I know their likes and dislikes. I know how they study and what distracts them. I know their interests and I also know their problems.
In the past one year, I haven’t thought of a lot of things apart from the school. They have taken over my life. And I am not complaining one bit. The journey has been magical so far and I am sure the last 9-10 months will be even better.
Its been a transformational journey personally. I have learnt so much about myself that I don’t think I would have ever been able to if I ever worked anywhere else.
I have learnt how to be patient. I have learnt how to not give up when the situation seems grim. I have learnt not to judge people by their looks or from the place they come from.
I have learnt that ambition is probably one of the most important things in life. I have learnt that grit can get you through situations that you cannot imagine. I have learnt that sometimes we just need someone to listen to us and show genuine care.
Teach for India might not pay as much as a law firm job but I can honestly say that I don’t hate Mondays. I am excited to go to work every day. I never have a boring day. I always have something to work on and it does challenge me every day.
Its also not always rainbows and roses. When you meet a student in 7th grade not being able to read a sentence on his own and you see the frustration in their eyes about not being able to do it, you know the world is not fair.
You find out how access to education is very different from access to quality education. You understand how government’s policies affect ground realities and sometimes how counter productive they are with regard to helping the child.
I personally go from highs to lows every single day. The high of watching a student read and understand is something money or position cannot compare to. Also, seeing the students battle everything around them also makes you realise how protected you have been all your life. It makes you value the things you have in your life. It makes you think.
Teach for India has regularly been voted as one of the best NGOs to work with and I can assure you that those surveys are absolutely true. The job satisfaction you get here is just amazing.
I joined the fellowship because I had seen how a good teacher can change the life of a student and how a bad teacher can destroy a student’s life. I wanted to do it for all the good teachers I had had in my life. I wanted to be that good teacher for someone. And I am glad I did it.
To 9 more months of awesomeness.
If you are interested in joining the fellowship, the 2015 applications are now live! You can find more information about the fellowship on the Teach For India website.
Also, I am trying to raise funds for scholarship for the students of my class. It would be great if you could donate or even share this link to the Donation Page with your friends.
For any information about the Fellowship or the donation page, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.