My journey preparing for this summer has been exciting, stressful, terrifying and eye opening. Above all other feelings, I am extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to work with Pratham’s Second Chance Program in Jaipur. The Second Chance Program gives women who have dropped out of school an opportunity to complete their secondary education. My role will be to speak with a select number of women in the program, asking what may have caused them to leave school, as well as what motivated them to return.
It is the women’s motivation, what drives each of them to come back to school, that really interests me. You see it has not been until recently, now my senior year of college, that I have taken time to reflect on the huge amount privilege that comes along with my own education. I am beyond thankful that I have never had to worry about whether I would graduate from high school or go to college. Up until now I have merely been going through the motions of my education, not really motivated by the education itself. I realize now that I have taken this wonderful education that I have been, quite literally handed, for granted.
Being given the opportunity to learn from the women in the program and from the administrators of Pratham is what has kept me excited and enlightened throughout these past nine months of preparation. I have constantly asked myself why I am going to India; really questioning my own intentions. Sure, I have always wanted to travel to India, and I do have a true passion for the education system, but I also struggle with what it may means for a community when an outsider offers their help for a short period of time, only to abruptly leave. Though I am still not sure of the best way to counteract this, I know that I am dedicated to learning from the individuals I will be working with this summer. More than anything, I have focused on learning from individuals who I have met from Pratham and learning about the Second Chance Program through them. I have met wonderful members of the Pratham community, who are extremely dedicated to the program and the women who make it up. I am truly privileged to be working alongside each of them this summer.
As time has gotten closer, I have come to realize how easy it is to become bogged down in the specifics of travel—that is, focusing more on what I need to pack, where I am going to stay, or how to get from point A to point B. However, throughout my preparation, I have been blessed to get to know so many knowledgeable people who have been willing to help me plan the logistics of my trip. In fact, their support and encouragement has been important in helping me learn how to ask for help. It is through admitting uncertainty and thus asking for help that I will be able to humbly serve in Jaipur.
With only one day left before I leave, the excitement is quickly dissipating as the nerves rise even quicker. Pits are beginning to form in my stomach; similar to those during the ascension of a rollercoaster, when you know your only option is a large drop. Until I board the plane, and reality sets in, I will be a blissful blend of enthusiastic and uneasy.