It’s almost one year and half since the day I first stepped into Hyderabad to a new chapter of my life. The decision to live in India was definitely not an easy one, miles from the family and into a culture which I did not entirely fit into. However, I chose to let the nostalgia of Fiji grow out of me and make the most of what I have in India now.
Today, I can say for sure that coming to India was no mistake — the experiences, the people and the culture has taught me a lot.
What has made this experience even better is my internship with ‘Teach for India’ which is more like a nationwide movement,working towards eliminating educational equity in India by reaching out to low resourced schools. It operates under the international NGO banner of Teach for All, which is in 29 countries fighting for quality education.
My journey with this amazing movement started in my third semester. I had never given much thought to becoming a teacher after Class Two despite both my parents being highly committed to the profession. My life changed on the second day of my internship when I was taken to a “school” to get a feel of what I my work would be revolve around.
I was left stunned as soon as I was told that we had reached a school. I had seen good and bad schools in Fiji, my parents had made sure of that, but this was just beyond what I had expected.
A double storey building which was in no shape to be called a school was the venue for about 300 students learning every day. Combining the classrooms it was the size of my current apartment in Hyderabad. I had no words, but all this changed as soon as I entered the classrooms. Keeping my expectations very low, I walked in. To my surprise the teacher was a young lady (who worked for Deloitte in USA and left her job to teach for India). The kids were second graders from a conservative settlement in the old city and to my utmost surprise spoke excellent English. Now this may seem normal to us in Fiji since English is our national language but in India, especially in old and conservative settlements it is hard to find English speakers.
This day was the start of many. As days passed in my internship I came across hundreds of inspiring young graduates who had left their excellent professional, high-paying jobs from all over the world to join a movement and fight for educational equity.
On another classroom visit, which I don’t think I will ever forget, was when a third grader came up to me, started fiddling with my Pandora charms and slowly asked: “Didi, this is bracelet?” Some moments just cannot be put into words and this was surely one of those.
I had to hold back tears while I watched a few of the same kids perform at the InspirED Conference at Indian School of Business in Hyderabad last weekend.This conference brought government officials, corporate heads and educators from around South Africa, USA, UK and India.Clearly something great was being done, and a group of highly qualified young professionals had taken the responsibility of giving these children quality education.
Today as I near the end of my third Semester in India, I know I chose right to come and to live in India. I will return humbled by the experience and grateful for opportunities. I have met inspiring groups of young people who have committed 2-3 years of their lives in ensuring the lives of eight million children of India get secure.I finally understand why my parents find such satisfaction in what they do and continue doing so without any doubts.
This experience has clearly changed my life, I will now return home educated with not just a Masters degree but willingness to make Fiji a better place. We are the way the world should be. Let’s aim to keep it that way by putting all hands on deck and striving for the best.
Betty Barkha is from Fiji and is currently a final year MA student residing in Hyderabad, India.