Purpose in the middle of a Pandemic

I’ve always seen the world as beautiful, but it isn’t without its flaws and I began to see and acknowledge these inequities and inequalities once I stepped out of all the fictional stories and fairytales. I realised that a happy ever after is not handed to everyone on a platter and that it has to be worked for. 

I decided that I’d pay for my own education going forward, I wanted to explore and experience before I studied further. I applied to a few fellowships and was rejected by most of them. 

I came to realise that being able to decide and set aside time to experience, to make decisions for myself and everything that came with it was a certain kind of privilege. The privilege of ‘Knowing’. I began to comprehend these things while working with a subject called Geo-Politics in college, and it hit me hard. I thought I wanted to be a journalist, but I never really found satisfaction in writing about the changes people were making, I guess I wanted to be on the other side of the narrative. I am a recent graduate, I studied Psychology, Journalism and English Literature. I have always had a passion for teaching and a yearning for learning, I volunteered and taught with a few organisations and after all these experiences I was ascertained that I enjoyed teaching. 

3 months into 2020 and 1 month away from my graduation, the world saw a complete standstill. Everything had come to a stop, spaces that never saw their doors shut were locked away and everything was a question mark. The question marks were so many, they were hard to count. I was extremely confused. I had planned to start out professionally this year. What was an average,20-year-old, brown girl going to do with all these question marks? 

With jobs being scarce and almost lost, it was difficult for me to even sleep at night. I worried about the possibilities, I worried if I’d find a place that would let me grow. Let’s just say I worried. A lot. 

One evening as I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I saw Bhumi’s colours on a poster. It felt like the child in their poster was calling out to me, all I remember is her sparkling eyes. I clicked on it and read through the entire page, the page excited me and I decided to apply. I didn’t expect to be selected and I didn’t put much weight on what would come out of it, I filled the application and wrote straight from my experiences.

A few days later, Bhumi got in touch with me, the selection process lasted almost a month, but it still feels like it happened very quickly. The phone interviews, the video calls and the intense discussions. The interview questions led me to think about what I actually expect of myself, what I want to do with my life and where I see myself going, in terms of career. Before I knew it I was sitting among 5 others and we were discussing educational policy and the intricacies of the educational sector. I didn’t know until much later that I was part of the first cohort of the fellowship at Bhumi and I was thrilled when I heard this. 

From the very beginning, the fellowship has pushed me to think about things I wouldn’t normally consider. It has been a packaged experience and it is a mixture of challenges, learning and a variety of possibilities. In the last three months, I have learnt to reflect better, to organise myself, not just in a physical sense but also in terms of my thoughts and to accept and apply constructive criticism. 

The journey, so far, has helped me focus on who I truly am, in my core. It has also helped me understand how to use my strengths while learning and exploring areas I need to improve on. It has helped me see and create for myself a structured process to break things down, comprehend them and act on them only after the process is complete. I have become more intuitive and less reactive. 

The space in which the team exists is a safe space and it is a space that understands the challenges and the possible hardships we might face through the process of the fellowship. I’d like to believe that this space lightly cushioned my experience and helped me see the face value of things and the nature of the sector of education/the reality of poverty etc. without letting me lose my purpose. 

I know now and I strongly believe that I am where I have to be, the voice notes from the children in my class and the intellectually stimulating conversations with the team and the fellows have helped me discover and delve into facets of myself I didn’t know existed. The experience I’ve gained so far isn’t much. However, in my opinion, finding a place where you belong and where your dreams and long term vision fits perfectly is an almost impossible feat. I believe I have found my spot, for now, at least. I understand and acknowledge my love for teaching and the sector of education better now and I know that I see a purpose in what I do, even in the midst of a pandemic.   

Looking forward, I can’t wait to meet and interact with the children in my class and learn from all the teachers at the school. I hope to be able to teach the children not just lessons, but to empower them because in all truth, their brilliance can outshine any of us, if it is only tapped into. I want to learn from the children too, children sometimes have the most valuable lessons to teach. A change, even a miniscule change, is a change nevertheless. So maybe I can’t change the world, so what? However, I can change my classroom and that is a start.

Wordsmith: Charlene Judith – Bhumi Fellow

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