Summer Internship with ISST (an NGO)–Vanshika Singh from Apeejay Stya University

Vanshika Singh shares about first day of her internship at an NGO–Indian Social Science Trust, where she met economically-impoverished but intellectually-rich, very rich kids. Vanshika is a student of Biotech & Biomedical Engineering at Apeejay Stya University, Gurgaon. Read what she has to say.

Out of all the other sane things in the world, the dhinchack auto-waalah with his loud reverberating music managed to inspire my muses that morning. Because when you have to find an inspiration to live, you find it in nooks and crannies of the world that rush past you in a frenzy…not even leaving a trail. In the most unusual places? The police compound at Kalyanpuri, East Delhi, where I stepped into, proved to be a place like that. Even before I got to visit ISST (Indian Social Sciences Trust, an NGO), I had a hint how the place will make me feel.

As I sit in the metro reminiscing about my first spoken English class to those ‘under-privileged’, I feel disgusted with this nomenclature we so condescendingly give to these children. Today, as karma had it, I had the chance to meet some of the richest kids I have ever met–if intellectual luxury is any measurement to go by.

As I stood in front of roughly 50 kids, with a book of spoken English clasped in my hands, my head and heart races together to connect with these people sitting in front of me, receptive with a different perspective, eager to know what their new Madam had in her kitty. All I knew was I had to make sure this is not just another English class for them. I wanted everyone to take home with them something that was beyond a rule-book of obsolete English grammar.

And…Boy, was I delusional? As our thoughts and ideas melted with each other to create a trance which was a soulful experience on its own, I realized those kids had the power to DREAM; in the true sense of that word. And see if they cared about their impoverished economic background–not even a bit. They were invincible.

That day, I was the one who took home so much more.

With every kid, who told me about his career aspiration, I felt a kick of adrenaline in my body. That boy- Omesh, the gleam that pervaded in his eyes throughout the one-hour class, left an indelible imprint on my psyche. Passionate, perched for the elixir of knowledge. And, as I happened to call him up and gave him an English verse to read, our communication took a great turn when he declared with a great deal of authority that he is going to become a History Professor. I was exalted. He didn’t move his gaze off even once from my face all the while I stood. And I made sure I returned him the biggest smile I could manage when our eyes met.

The girl who sat next to Omesh, poking him with an air of importance, as he shrugged her off to maintain his focus, drew my attention. I called her up to introduce herself to the class. As I tried to eliminate her initial hitches to help her face the crowd, I politely told her to imagine herself as a teacher and address the class! She looked at me with a slight, innocent fury and stated “Mujhe teacher thode na ban na hai didi, mai toh lawyer banungi!” (I do not wish to be become a teacher, didi, I will become a lawyer.)

And in that sweetly odd mix of kids, high school students and even pass-outs, there were aspiring choreographers, accountants, income tax officers, chefs.

Rich people–them. I must say.

And so I decided…I will let the boy who complained that his pasta always turns out a tad bit salty know what culinary arts can offer him. The coy girl whose eyes widened with enthusiasm when she saw a book about classic poets and authors in my hands, I would like her to share her poems with the class tomorrow. “Didi, main apni poems sirf aapko dikhaungi, mujhe sharm aati hai,” she demanded of me as she waited for all her classmates to depart and talk to me all by herself. The young lad who wanted to be a gym trainer. The young girl who is studying Bachelors of Social Works and questioning me about how she should go about pursuing Archaeology.

I ran out of answers but they never ran out of their questions about their potential.

In that one hour, those roughly 50 people shattered every stereotype that the Indian education system drags along with it–for me, and for you. That’s when economic backgrounds melt into nothingness as passions overwhelm; when our so called ‘practical approach towards life’ hits the ground with a thud, revealing passions ablaze.

And helping these kids in giving a direction to their paths will, I felt, give my own life a direction.

Self-assurance emanated from those kids like a halo. Just a little push and they would soar high. Because soaring high is their nature.

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