Back in the day when I didn’t need to make final decisions about my life, I could declare to the world “I want to be a doctor” and change that to “I want to be a dancer” the next year; I wanted to become many people - journalist, teacher, writer, designer, researcher, RJ… God knows how many more.
Years later I found myself in a Teacher Training institute and had some of the best times of my life! You know the saying - ‘Life happens when you are busy planning it!’ I have absolutely no regrets. I learnt from some AMAZING teachers, saw the best and worst of people and made friends for a lifetime. Above all, an episode etched itself in my mind forever - my internship.
It happened at humble school in a tiny little village in Andhra Pradesh which educates kids from impoverished families. I was studying for my BEd at The Regional Institute of Education under the NCERT. The institute accepts a set number of students from each South Indian state and assigns an internship to a school from our state. We work rigorously for 45 days (unlike the 10-15 day internship at other B-Ed institutes) and live onsite or in the local town. Since mine was a residential school, I stayed on campus - it made those days even more special and memorable.
At that time the students were only too familiar with rote learning, caning, painful pinches and note taking to ‘learn’. Then we happened - a bunch of young, energetic ma'ams who taught with a smile, showed them wonderful experiments and movies, who took them outside the classroom to assess the age of a tree, and who made them speak - not just answer!
We won their hearts! Just by implementing what we were taught, even with our limited knowledge and experience. On our final, unforgettable morning, we boarded a bus from campus and were enveloped by a crowd of boys, practically the whole school, along with their teachers! From the bleary-eyed little ones, just out of bed with toothbrushes sticking out of their mouths to the older ones - they crowded around us begging us not to leave, “Ma'am, please don’t go”.... “Ma'am, we’ll miss you”.
From our seats, we saw some of them crying. The sight of the little ones wiping their tears was heartbreaking. As I sat looking at them, tears rolling from my eyes, I felt all my doubts about the career I was to embark on dissolve into nothingness. I sat there with absolute conviction that this was my destiny; this was what I was born to do.
A few years after my post-graduation, I flew to the Gulf with my husband and started my first ever job at a school there. Though disheartened that I was only given Grade 2 despite my PG degree, I was curious to discover what it meant to be a fully fledged teacher. Little did I know what I was walking into. It was a pressure cooker environment - a mad house where we spent less time in the classroom teaching, and more time updating files, marking the ‘levels’ of every child, missing lunch breaks, answering e-mails all day long and enduring never-ending complaints from parents and superiors alike.
I RESIGNED. I DITCHED THAT NIGHTMARE OF A LIFE. And I couldn’t be more relieved! A year later, I read that more teachers were having nervous breakdowns in that system - I wasn’t surprised.
I am now blessed with a job that gives me peace of mind. I'm an administrator at a piping company. I have a friendly boss, young, fun loving colleagues and a human amount of work! Yes, at times, it tires me - getting up early to cook and then commuting for one and half hours to get to my office. However, I don’t run around like it’s the end of the world nor do I take my work home. I work but I also have fun here; there's time to sit down, talk and breathe. There's time to have a proper lunch. The best part, I am given respect and patience. Sometimes my colleagues cannot fathom exactly why I am so positive about being here.
Yes, I am happy...yet somehow not fulfilled by my career. Obviously, I'm not where I am supposed to be. I am not using ANY of that wonderful knowledge that was given to me. I strongly feel I'm destined for the field of education, or is it just wishful thinking?
I don’t know…but I won't be at peace without fulfilling my purpose…without having given back to the society in the country that has made me whatever that I am today. I hope life will unveil my purpose when the time is ripe.
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