Promoting science among underprivileged – A teacher bridging gaps


About the Author: Shubhi Aggarwal, a student of IIT Kanpur, talks about her experience with underprivileged children and how teaching them brought her satisfaction. 

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

Around the end of my fourth semester, I was trapped in a dilemma and was contemplating how I could make the best use of my vacations. A corporate job never interested me; I wanted to serve people. I contacted various NGOs and applied for various internships; however, I couldn’t get any due to certain constraints. I was then informed by my roommate about Society for Promotion of Science and Technology in India. I dug into its website, studied its achievements, and learnt about its summer programs. I sent an email to the concerned authority articulating my standpoint regarding the lack of quality education for unprivileged children and how I would love to be a part of the venture to help them learn.

Shortly after this, I had a telephonic interview with the founder of the NGO, who was looking for competence, perseverance, and patience in applicants. He asked me why I wanted to join an NGO instead of a corporate in response to which I told him that I wanted to help people and make their lives better. I added that I wanted to join them because they worked for children whom I had a profound love for. He asked me if I had done any social service in the past. I told him about my evening classroom, Baalwari, wherein I taught poor children after my school hours and about Ehsaas – a group I initiated to prevent the wastage of mess food by supplying it to the needy. I was asked about my subject preference for teaching, which was chemistry. He asked me if I would teach biology in case of unavailability of a teacher to which I replied in affirmative since I was comfortable with it being a biological sciences student. The interview ended with him enquiring about my willingness to work in adverse conditions and me assuring him of it.

Chemistry it was, for grades 9 and 11! An opportunity to teach and guide kids was waiting for me. I reached the office and was welcomed by a friendly staff. I was provided a room at the National Dairy Institute with three other girls. With a will to serve children at my best, I entered the premises of the school and started off with student registrations. Having received a larger number of students than we could accommodate, we screened out students on the basis of a science test. The enthusiasm to learn shown by children dressed in uniforms left an indelible impression on me. Later in the day, we had an interactive session with the founders, who stated their expectations from us. My journey as a teacher progressed and I was woven into a mesh of understanding, concern, and expectations with my students. I came across some students who were a little slow on the uptake and could not write properly; I put in all my efforts to teach them. My moment of redemption was when a child whom I was helping with stammering, answered a question splendidly. For the students of grade 11, I focussed on strengthening their fundamental knowledge of the subject. Having realised that I had to work hard to bridge the gap between possessing the knowledge and imparting it efficiently, I would go to the reading room after each class and prepare for the next class. My sense of responsibility towards the children motivated me to work harder each day. I came across parents who would send their child to school from a far off village and skipped meals to pay for his traveling; this was extremely inspiring.

During the course of the internship, we organised a lot of career guidance sessions, motivational movie sessions, and educational tours for the children. We presented students’ achievements to the CMGGA (Chief Minister’s Good Governance Associates) of Haryana after evaluating their weekly tests. We met with functionaries to discuss improvements in the existing program. I left the premises with a wish to teach them again and watch their dreams come true. My internship was a beautiful amalgamation of teaching, loving, caring, guiding, and learning from those ardent and virtuous children.

Feeling an urge to help others? Check out these social work internships

Editor’s note – If you also have an interesting story to share, you can now participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2017 and win cash prizes and goodies worth INR 1 Lac!

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