Hello All! I hope you’ve been anticipating my next blog post! I’ve spoken a lot about my experiences in India but I wanted to post more about my purpose for being here. As stated before I am working as a social enterprise fellow with Hyderabad’s Affordable Private Schools. For those that are not familiar with the social enterprise industry, the most simple way to explain it is to describe the industry as business that measures not only financial returns but social impact as success. Hyderabad’s Affordable Private Schools are seen as social enterprises because the school owners benefit monetarily with the small cost they charge for students but their genuine interest is making quality education available for the poor. I have been matched with Grace Model School which happens to be the most inexpensive school out of my programs pool. My school owners are a husband and wife team Irfan and Ayesha who have over twelve years experience in education. They have welcomed me into their school and officially made me apart of the family after Fast breaking with Haleem and an Independence Day gift of a kurta outfit!
My day begins with the dreaded experience of anything here in Hyderabad…getting there. Every morning I take a bus and a shared auto to school. On a normal day it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to school but there have been days when it literally takes an hour and a half. This is how those days could go. Waiting at the bus stop and no bus actually stopping. You see here in Hyderabad, there is no real schedule or bus stops on every corner and the driver can pretty much do what he wants. So once a bus actually stops for you then the next person to deal with is the ticket collector who depending on their mood will either charge you the fair price of 4 rupees or decide you’re foreign and don’t know the difference and tell you 10rupees. As stated before I refuse to be treated like a foreigner so when this happens I usually jump off and wait for another bus. After making it through a crowded bus I then have the luxury of sharing an auto with average Indian citizens that have a common destination. Every day as I approach the auto driver’s fight over who will take me to my neighborhood. I will hop in one auto and literally be screamed at to get out of one and into another. That’s no biggie though. The real delay comes from waiting for the auto driver to think its full enough. After five women are cramped into the back with one sitting on the rail hanging out the window, sometimes an auto driver will still wait for three men to join the fun! Which can take all of 30 minutes.
After my crazy travel I walk to school and pass the clothes shops and always stinky meat stand and finally arrive to my beloved Grace Model. Before getting close you can already hear lower kindergarten practicing the Hindi alphabet. I start the day with a brief meeting with Sir and Madam and then I’m free to roam and do whatever pops in my mind. It’s a lot of pressure because it leaves me with the responsibility to make my day productive but its creating a whole new sense of initiative for me. I usually always start the day by observing a class. Lower Kindergarten is my favorite thus far. I think it’s because the students are such characters! As an American most of the students see me as a celebrity and literally hold their hands out just waiting to be the lucky one who gets a handshake and often times the students nor the teachers feel comfortable exposing their true self, but it’s something about the little ones. They are so unapologetic, from taking their turn at the board to slapping each other when they feel like it.
After spending my morning observing I usually talk to students or teachers during lunch to get a better idea of the school and the way it operates. Somehow this conversation always gets back to the question “how did you do that to your hair?” (the braids). After lunch sometimes I get a chance to type up some notes and work on my case study of the ins and outs of the school but mostly I have no time to myself. I end my day by visiting the second building of the school and helping the 5th graders learn English through mobile phones, which may sound like I just give them a phone and they play games but it involves never ending questions and technical problems every five minutes. After all of this I report back to the office, say my goodbyes, and prepare myself for another exhausting trip home.
Sometimes I question why I’m here and what my purpose is. I really wonder how productive I am each day, and most times I guilty stay up all night at home researching or typing ideas to make myself feel better. What I’m learning from my spiritual journey is that God reveals his plan with time which makes patience my everyday struggle. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Psalm 3:5-6 NIV) It’s the questions I get every day from students that prove their genuine interest and this scripture that keeps me going. September will be the month that I get my feet wet. Student Government elections are coming up and that’s all me so you know it’s going to be intense! I’ll have photo’s and videos of the speeches and campaign material.