It was summer of 2011, when I had just passed my 10th Board examination. I was a 14-year-old confused boy figuring out where to go from here. First thing that came to my mind was to score well in 12th and then do a B.Sc (Bachelors in Science) afterwards. Luckily, my friend’s distant cousin had just gotten into IIT Gandhinagar then, and my friend had told me about IITs. He also convinced me to prepare for it. With guidance from people around me, and with access to the right kind of ecosystem, I was able to get into IIT Delhi just after class 12th.
While working at Swarachna School with Milaan, I realized that a lot of students did not have the same privilege that I had, which is why I wanted to mentor and counsel students. After identifying some students who wanted to study further but did not have resources or information to go ahead, I took preparation classes of three girl students (from class 12th) and arranged for books, application forms and other documents required to apply for competitive entrance exams, in areas of pharmacy and engineering.
Oh! The kinds of sincerity these students showed. They used to reach school at 8 in the morning, and leave at 5:30 in the evening. The results are yet to arrive and I frankly don’t know how will it go. What matters more, is that they tried and gave their best in their subjects at intermediate level.
From my personal experience stated above and the experiences at Swarachna, I valued and took this initiative because of certain reasons:
- This kind of intervention may create role models in the local ecosystem (like in my case, my friend’s distant cousin became my role model at that point of time) for students to seek guidance in future, and to certainly give them hope.
- It actually may change one’s life’s trajectory and expose them to diverse areas of life.
- It may teach them about failure, as well as about focusing on one thing at a time.
- It definitely gives me a lot of satisfaction to have given back what I got from others when I was clueless in my life.
This intervention has also contributed towards positive environment at Swarachna and in the community. For example, when students saw the amount of rigor and hard work these girls were putting for their entrance exams, some of them who were doing academically well, started seeking guidance on what to do in their life and asked for extra tuition. They now take more interest in solving math puzzles and one or the other is always poking me to understand their subject’s problem (mostly Math).
Some members of the community have asked me to help their son/daughter in preparation of government job recruitment examinations. A few of my students have also requested for books to prepare for competitive examinations.
From my experiences, education has been enabling the students to make money. It’s better to prepare them to become self-dependent people with one focus at earlier stage (preferably 9th/10th), so they can put all their efforts in that direction to achieve their goal.
If someone would not have told me about IITs, I would not have gone there, get the exposure that I did and probably would not be writing this blog. Life is funny, with a lot of miracles in between. Most of those miracles happen due to one changing point in your life that changes everything.
The bigger thing that I always stress upon, in life-skill sessions, and something that I’ve also picked up in this fellowship year, is “Hope”. All my work is now concentrated towards bringing hope in these students’ life, because that’s what keeps us intact and encourages us to find new paths in life to achieve our goal.
I’m immensely thankful to my mentors and supervisor at Milaan, School administration and most importantly my students for all the guidance and support whenever I needed it. To end, I would like to quote a line from my all-time favorite, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, where Andy tells Red about importance of hope.
“Remember Red, Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies”.