It’s that time of the year which every student abhors. The sun is shining, the daffodils sway gently in the breeze, the bunnies and squirrels scamper about, and temperature and clothing begin to share an inversely proportional relationship (an increase in one results in a decrease in the other). A spirit of well-being and optimism infects the air and you see the eminent difference in moods. The girls who were grumpy and grumbling all through autumn and winter, as they trundled along the snowy hill to get to class cursing England, undergo a complete makeover and are now seen sporting strappy tops and flip-flops laughing and frolicking with renewed enthusiasm.
But the reasons enlisted above are obviously not the ones why students abhor this time of the year. It is because of a four-letter word…(no, not that one but worse): EXAM. Yes, it is one of the greatest ironies of life that when the weather gods have shown mercy and smiled upon us that we are compelled to enshroud and immerse our soul and minds in books and past papers galore. It’s the time where one procrastinates procrastination and cringes dramatically at the mention of the word “exams”. It is a time (and here I speak for myself) when during study breaks one looks up inspirational videos about how exams don’t determine one’s future (as justification to your parents should you get a “meagre” grade) are not a measure of intelligence and should by no means be seen as D-Day (of course, your teachers will beg to differ at this point). And it was during one of my meaningless meanderings that I came across this video about education providing me with a perspective I never sought to consider before:
(Please DO see this before continuing)
It is a video that transported me back to summer last year, where in the month of June, I had embarked on my very first voluntary service project. After going through a series of interviews I was selected by Round Square (an internationally renowned organisation that is affiliated with more than 80 schools worldwide which organises and funds exchange programs, international conferences and service projects for students every year) and by my school to represent my school in the Round Square International Service (RSIS) Project 2012 to Ladakh. We were a group of 25 people with a single purpose of building a dormitory and a toilet block for the children of Lamdom Model School. It was a three-week long project consisting of six hours of unskilled manual labour for two-and-a-half weeks with the remaining time left for sightseeing and exploration.
While I am tempted to elaborate about the wonderful time I had exploring a culture I had never explored before, meeting people my own age, having a fantastic time making memories with the same people who I am now proud to call as my close friends, teaching the children and experiencing a sense of real achievement upon seeing all our hard work and labour come to fruition at the end of two very long, very hard weeks…I shall refrain. Because this article is not about my project, it’s about the people I met there, especially the children.
Being a single child in a family of six adults made me develop an indifference towards children. I wasn’t at either end of the continuum – I didn’t drool over them nor did I backpedal at the sight of them. Until I met the children at the school we were working at. Don’t worry; I am not about to delve into a long-winded description of me discovering my maternal side and instincts, because that is not what happened. These were children were not the most privileged ones but they were the happiest and most mature I had ever encountered. And interacting with these children made me discover a side to Ladakh I had not been acquainted with before, a side to the youth of tomorrow that was in the making, a perspective that provided me with an insight into a glaring loophole in our education system (a fact reiterated ever since I also saw the TED talk delivered by Sir Ken Robinson:
Thoughts continue in The Pursuit of Happiness
(Part of a series)