My journey so far has been about confronting what I have been running away from. It has been about understanding how the savior complex has played out in my journey. 

With our cohort stepping into the second year of the fellowship, I am grateful for the year that has been. I am grateful for the relationships built, the learnings, and the experiences. We started our fellowship at one of the most challenging times. COVID had made it difficult for children, parents, and teachers alike. I had the unique opportunity to witness my school adapt and respond to the crisis at hand, and be a part of it.

Interactions with all the stakeholders at school for the first time took place over a phone call. Building that connect with the parents, teachers at school, and the children took time. As someone who entered the school system for the first time, I was restless, I had a lot of hopes and expectations. I expected things to go my way and would often get disappointed when they didn’t. I wanted to change the way things worked.

What all this taught me was a lesson in humility and patience. What I came to realize in all this was the way I approached things. I realized that I always saw things only from my lens, I never once stopped to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I understood the meaning of the word empathy, I was never able to understand what it meant to empathize with someone. At least not until an interaction with one of the stakeholders changed things for me.

“What stands in the way becomes the way” – Marcus Aurelius.

What struck me was in the seven months of my journey, I tried hard to avoid adopting the saviour complex. Yet, in trying so hard to avoid it, I ended up adopting and exercising it. Reflecting on this has taught me so much about how social change does not happen overnight. Social change takes time, it takes effort and perseverance. It takes trust, collaboration, and empathy. Building trust, reaching a collaborative stage, and listening with empathy takes time.

This eureka moment has brought about a shift in perspective. With this shift, I have also been able to reflect on how I’ve always looked for faults in the system. Looking at what has not been working versus looking at what is already working well for the system. My journey so far has been about confronting my biases and questioning them. It has been about learning and trusting the process. It has been about building connections with the children, parents, and teachers and understanding the system. What I commit to doing in the future is strengthening these relationships and nurturing them. I commit to continue on this journey of whole-school transformation along with all the stakeholders.  

The Bhumi Fellowship enables young graduates to lead change in education. To transform schools in Chennai – Become/Refer a Fellow. Click here to know more.

Wordsmith: Neelanjana Varanasi – Bhumi Fellow

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