well, it’s been a long two months (sorry) since my last post. there was a major hubbub about the global conference where the core staff of CH came together in bangalore this year, visited the school, and spent time in the city brainstorming to constantly improve the organization itself.
on a personal note, i am now officially past exciting birthdays in my life. i am now 25 years old [which is so strange to write]. in many ways i don’t feel much different from when i turned, say, eighteen, but if i look back analytically, SO many things have changed. though i [think] i am the same person in general, i have a slightly more clear sense of direction of where i am going and as much as my 18-year-old self would have resisted and to some extent resented it, i’ve found that my passion truly does lie in education.
this experience has given me so much insight into what education means. i find it funny that the education i received in the US was so generic in terms of content. i know that no matter which of the 50 states i was brought up in, by the end of the 12th grade i would have received the same general knowledge as in any state. the contrast of india is insurmountable. for one, if you want a good education here, you are generally going to pay through the nose for a half-way decent school atmosphere with teachers that lecture while students take notes. for the average fee-paying school, students are expected to do most of the learning themselves and parents often become the tutors. of course the school i’m in has to go beyond that given that the majority of the parents cannot read and write [in any of the 3-4 languages they speak]. also, the variety of kinds of schools in this place is incredible, nearly every caste, creed or language group can find a school that suits their economic and cultural background (though the curriculum may not always be the best). the fact that CHI incorporates such a variety of people really makes this place something different. i do love where i am working, but most of all, i’m realizing just how close of a community this school really is.
today was the last day for the 12th grade students who will start their final exams at the end of the week. for India, a central board conducts exams, in a similar format to the SAT or ACT, except that answers are generally all handwritten. regardless, the last day for these students was very similar to what i remember of the end of my own high school career. i got the chance to speak with a few students about their experiences and i just realized how universal that feeling of being part of a group truly is. for students of CHI that is even more pronounced as the majority of the 12th graders have been in the same school with the same classmates since kindergarten! given that the graduating class is only about 70 students, these have truly become like family for each other and understand where their classmates are coming from. that next step of moving out into the “real world” will be quite a step for them. some have big plans for becoming lawyers or engineers, others will be getting jobs in some form or another, but for them, like any 18 year-old, separating from that comfortable group is a bit of a scary thing. it was refreshing today to see them preparing themselves not to see the same familiar faces every day. for them, CHI has become that one space in their worlds where they can dare to dream, if you will. now they have to go make those dreams realities…
i wish them all the best and thank them [though they’ll probably never know] for reminding me what it was like to be 18 and have the world at your feet like an ocean, but be afraid to jump for fear of scattering those precious, familiar ties. i know some of them will do great things, and all will certainly be able to make independent lives for themselves.