Blissful Unease

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.

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About Grace Beckman

Grace is a junior with a major in English and a minor in Community Action and Social Change. After graduation, she would like to work in the field of community engagement with education reform. Grace will be spending six weeks in Jaipur volunteering with Pratham, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in India. Her work will primarily be with the Second Chance program, which provides women who dropped out of school with the opportunity to complete their secondary education and acquire the skills necessary for employment. Grace’s final project will explore the factors that led women participating in the Second Chance program to originally drop out of school and, in turn, what motivated them to enroll in this program.

3 thoughts on “Blissful Unease

  1. Amazing how quickly it sneaks up on you, huh?? Your research topic is really great, and I think it will help the school to be able to use what you find out. It’s great that it lined up so perfectly with what you’re interested in! The importance of realizing privilege in education is so valuable, especially if you see that even before this experience! The world would be done a big favor if they could all hear what you’re learning this summer. Glad the excitement is there, but the nerves just mean you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, and that’s where all the fun is! Safe travels!

  2. Hi Grace! I wish you the very best at the beginning of what is sure to be a transformative journey! It has been such a pleasure working with you this year and all of your hard work is going to pay off exponentially! I cannot wait to sit down, enjoy a snack and hear about your experiences and the outcome of your research when you return to campus. You’ll be in my thoughts!

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