In Alternative Spring Break, we often discuss the importance of an “elevator pitch”. That is, if you were in the elevator with someone and they asked about the program, you need a quick spiel that you can pitch them. I have also been told that after big experiences you can prepare a 1 minute, 3 minute or 5 minute brief, in order to be prepared for any given situation. I have never been very good at this because to me, the impacts of my experience run together and I end up babbling. I learn about myself through my interactions with the people that I have built relationship with and it is often these relationships that help me find my passions for the future.
Before I left for India I understood that I would come back with some newfound appreciation for my education. However, I did not expect to come back feeling as confused as I do. It is honestly difficult for me to sum up the way that this experience has affected me personally and academically and I am having trouble putting it into words. I am passionate about the education system and through my internship with Pratham I have been given a hands on opportunity to see how another education system is run. There is no system that runs perfectly, and India’s education system is no exception.
Aside from my experience at Pratham, I have learned that students must choose what educational path they want to take when they are in the 11th grade. I have seen how difficult this can be for students later on in their educational career because their interests change as they mature. As this relates to me personally, I had never appreciated the freewill that I have in my education. Here I am, a rising senior and I still have room to decide what I “want to be when I am older”. I chose my major and minor because I enjoyed the course load. I also knew that they are broad and that I would be able to tailor them to the sector of jobs that I am interested in. I know that my internships, student organizations and my experiences tell almost more about me than what I my studies can. However, I also know that this is a privilege.
I grew up in a financially sound family, which has made a large impact on how I see my own life after school. As a young girl in a small, conservative, primarily white town, I was lead to believe that as long as I worked hard I would be able to succeed and though this is true for a subset of our country, it is not fair for many to assume.
While I was in India I spoke with a lot of students who felt discouraged with their current situations. For many, the reason that they had to drop out was beyond their control or that of their family’s; it was, instead, the result of the system that was in place. I literally saw passion simmer from the women’s eyes, as they spoke about requirements they did not have for a job they wanted or a degree that would not be able to obtain because of money.
I am sure this sounds cliché, but I want to use my experiences to motivate individuals, encouraging them to follow any dream, no matter how large or far-reaching. I want to use this experience and continue to encourage people to do what they love. However, I have seen that this can only go so far, without taking action. I admire Pratham for working with the government when it notices something that could be improved, while at the same time, giving one-on-one attention to students. Seeing how this runs has shown me that even though it may take a while for change to happen you can still make a difference in the present.