I had no idea what I was getting myself into, when I accepted my internship with you. Even now it is very difficult to put my entire experience down on one page. I am so lucky to have been involved with you and your NGO. The children at Parichay are growing up in such a nurturing and loving environment, and I am so grateful to have been a part it. I taught English and Mathematics to three different classes: Non Formal Education II, Non Formal Education III, and the English Conversation class. Each of these classes not only taught me something, but also touched my life in different ways.
My NFE II class was filled with children from the ages of 8-12. These little balls of energy were the most avid about my learning Hindi. My first day with them at Parichay was all about them pointing at things in our limited classroom and making me repeat the Hindi names. These children were also very adamant about learning English. Despite the mundane lessons of verbs, vocabulary, and simple phrases, my NFE II class was constantly excited to learn. Their unyielding desire to learn really touched me. Despite living in the slums of New Delhi, these children know what education can do for them. I learned the real importance, meaning, and love of education and teaching from these young ones, and it’s the first lesson that I will never forget.
My NFE III class and I have a very special connection. Most of these students are sponsored to go to private schools in the nearby community so they had a better grasp of English than my NFE II class. Our classes were filled with questions about my life and what America was like. At first I was worried because I thought I was here to teach them actual lessons. But Mr. Vijay Bajpai mentioned that just being around me and talking with me motivates the students as well. Just being around a person who travelled all the way from America fascinated my NFE III class. But what really fascinated me was the sincerity of their hearts. It was quite contagious and it actually taught me to be genuine and compassionate. These lessons that I learned from my NFE II class, I will never forget!
Just from the name of the class, one can interpret that this was the class most skilled in English. My English Conversation class and I got to be very close. We talked about many things that really allowed me to have an insight into their lives and vice versa. In one particular lesson I remember that one student told me her view of the world. She said, “There are good girls and boys in the world, and bad girls and boys. But you Jin didi, are a good girl.” I was taken aback by the simplicity of her statement and asked her why she thought of me as a “good girl.” She replied, “Because you are a good person for coming all the way from America just to teach us at Parichay.” sincerity and appreciation were dripping from her statement. I learned that I can make a difference in a child’s life. And in turn, they can make a difference in mine! Another lesson I will never forget.
Parichay, you and your children have taught me so much. I hope I have made an impact on you as well. I have to thank Mr. Vijay Bajpai for founding you and for allowing me to have such an unbelievable life changing experience. After observing my interaction with the kids, he once told me that, “Teaching is a pleasure, and learning is a joy”. I knew I was having so much fun, but so were the children. And since they were having fun, learning was also enjoyable and lasting. Without Mr. Vijay’s support I would not have been able to experience Parichay fully. Learning about their philosophy of self-sustainability through a spices and handicrafts unit was very enlightening. I learned so much about the project as a whole and how it functions.
Although I need to go back to America where my family is, I have another family here with you, Parichay. I can still hear all the Parichay children yell, “Didi! Didi!” But one day I will be back. Because the sincerity in their eyes will always bring me back. My heart and soul goes to all the children of Parichay. And one day we will all be reunited, as one big happy Parichay family.