I started my application for the Fellowship on a whim but wanted to know what it would be like so I volunteered in my friend's class who was in her first year of the Fellowship.
It completely changed my mind. Any inclination I had to apply vanished instantly after visiting her class and witnessing how tough it was. My recruiter was determined to get me to finish my application though and I did. The process continued and in a few months, I had the Fellowship offer letter in my hand.
I accepted and since then nothing has come easy. Our schedule, the problems we face at school, building relationships, understanding my students, learning new skills, choosing to be optimistic after every terrible day- all of it has been tough but it has also been worth it.
The smiles I see when I walk into class, the joy I feel when my students accomplish something, the happiness we feel together when we look back on how much we’ve grown, makes it all worth it. There have been days when I've had to go to my students houses to bring them to class. I've been cornered for speaking against certain issues in my school. Exam results have made me feel hopeless. My kids' situations at home have made me feel helpless.
The truth is, no two students, situations or days are ever the same. But this is where I learnt to either take everything with a pinch of salt or look for the silver lining. I won't lie, there have been days so difficult that they've broken me but what makes me stay, are my students. Not a day’s gone by when I've felt like I don't want to go to class. They motivate me to keep going.
They're my teachers too and it's only because of them that I'm able to learn about the grassroots reality of millions of people. Through the lockdown as well, access has remained the biggest issue for us; its due to their enthusiasm and desire to learn that I learnt never to underestimate anyone's ability though. They worked so hard to get access to mobile phones whenever they could and to learn to use technology that it pushed me to upskill myself too.
I want to continue to learn about this system in place that is working to change such bleak realities and yet failing. What I don't want is to be one of those people who comments on things that are wrong but does nothing to change any of them. My life is now dedicated to bridging the gap of inequity that exists in our country and I have my students to thank for instilling this desire in me. Our classroom is filled with love and compassion and everyone is welcome to share it.