I was in Bengaluru for my so-called “internship” when we started our operations in one of our partner school, Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) in Chennai. It was a continuation of our partnership from last year pilot where we delivered outstanding results. I, always being very confident about our model, was very exhilarated to start a full year of intervention with the school. It was my team members who started the initial process of interaction which had the selection of students, engaging with school and engaging with parents. But as we got more school on-boarded in Chennai, the team decided that I and Vraj (one of our team member) will be the perfect fit to work at KV.
There was a positive vibe, a bigger hope I could sense when I first met our Student Leaders. Their face was bright, kind of happy to be a part of this program; some even joined so that they can bunk their classes (this I got to know recently :P).
This was my first time that I stepped on the shows of STM so initially, I was assisting Vaj and Harinie (also team member) till the time I get comfortable with the environment. With the passage of time and passing weeks there came a lot of challenges but together, one by one we were able to solve them. I could sense how much these kids were enjoying our classes. I could see on their face when the learners did not turn up for the classes, or there was a week holiday because of annual function or sometimes because of the festivals we celebrate.
Slowly things started getting better in terms of classes, in terms of their attendance, in terms of the Leadership sessions that we take, everything seemed to fall in place.
After about 4 weeks from the day of our intervention, it was me who started to conduct Leadership sessions which initially was assisted by Harinie. It was because of these sessions I became very close to the Student Leaders. I started with “Being Organised” where I introduced them with the idea of having checklists for their tasks using Wunderlist (a mobile application- Involve uses it to manage in hand tasks). As they were still students, I gave them an understanding of the time they invest as a friend, a son/daughter, sibling and how in the 168 hours of their limited time they should justify themselves in each role. Each Student Leader after analyzing their time for a week which includes time for sleep, TV shows, and social media too were made to realize that they have only a few hours left for a week and if they exceed their time limit for any role, they will have to suffer on something else. Few days after the session some Student Leaders said that preparing a checklist is helping them a lot to manage their time better.
For me, the highlight point of my role was when I took the “Being Adaptive” session for the leaders followed by a Learning Circle. I shared my personal stories on how if I was not adapted to the environment in my senior secondary school, I would not have been into IIT. I discussed how Indian team was not allowed even to participate for 1950 FIFA World Cup because they didn’t adapt to wearing shoes while playing. I found a key to make the sessions more informative and energetic, which was to share real life and personal instances because that’s what everyone remembers. I still have the feedback which says that they learned a lot after the session and shall try very hard to be adaptive.
We started Learning Circle with the objective of them sharing their journey with Involve. I never in my imaginative world would have thought that my eyes would be wet.
They shared how Involve has helped them make more friends, some even shared that Involve is their new small family with whom they will always want to be connected with. It did bring a smile onto my face when one of them being very shy presented her thoughts by sharing how Involve has helped her overcome stage fears, how we have helped her in presenting her thoughts more clearly on stage. “I am always very tired after my school ends, but when I come for Peer teaching classes, I am full of energy and it is maybe when I see the kids waiting for me to teach them. The classes have helped me gain confidence which I otherwise would not have gained, thank you all for helping me here”, were the words by a Student Leader.
I feel so elated to be given the opportunity to work with these super enthusiastic kids. More than sharing my knowledge I learned a lot fro them. I learnt to be on time, to empathize with these kids for their maximum growth, to communicate well to minimise any confusion, to be assertive in my speech, to have a optimistic approach to solving problems, to expect the unexpected, to believe more strongly in our work, to be a better human being and to impact more and more.