A scholar for a dollar

Education has always been priority. It would always be for most of us who come from modest beginnings back home where it’s dinned into our head that we are nothing if we are not capable of a decent degree. A consequent pride in the knowledge that’s either ingrained or gained from hours of pouring over books and the speed at which we are able to reproduce facts and figures. A school of thought (no pun intended) where it is told to you a zillion times that the letters behind your name is what defines you. Especially if you are a girl. As was the case in our family.

I, for one am fortunate to have gotten my more than fair share of knowledge that comes out of a rigid curriculum and also to be able to explore to a certain extent of what excited me and what perhaps I could later on build a figment of a career. Some was thrusted on me, some I accepted willingly, but fortunate enough I was to have had that opportunity, to at least have tried. I think back and indeed there are no regrets, just unfinished dreams.

But then again, I look at articles and appeals like these, and I am ashamed that I even complain.

Moving west has in fact de-sensitized most of us to the actual state of many children in various pockets of India who are struggling with learning, struggling with not having the ability to dream and dream big. For many parents who want to see their kids get ahead of them by just 1 measly step. To not work the same fields they do, to not bear the same load they are, to be able to sleep well at night and not wonder if there would be a square meal the next day.

I think back on the few times my dad and us individually and as a whole have helped in small ways the various children, orphans and young men and women who accosted us on the streets and home with an ernest appeal to part with a little cash to further them in their climb towards freedom and independance.

My dad was big on studies. Having spent most of his youth bailing out his siblings without enrolling in a proper school/college while his dad forsake the family fortune and time behind freedom struggle and leaders alike. The value he placed on his sacrifices and his youth broke free with his undying passion for all things scholarly, and pedantic which later on provided the impetus for him to be where he is today. For us, his daughters to be where we are today. He is a self-made man and I am proud of whatever little I have inherited from him. What I also am amused is how much of a chord it strikes in me when I am hit by such appeals. He would always go out of his way and spare a bit of cash or buy a book for the fellow in need, even despite not having much to spare. In a very simlar vein, I feel strongly about wanting to help folks who deserve it. To go that extra mile when it comes to want to be a part of someone’s future. I’d rather help long-term than providing short-term happiness as in the next meal, a shirt that he’d outgrow, or a home that he might just leave or be driven from.

Today is Teacher’s day. Back home, while it was a day when we’d get together and put a skit for them, treat them and basically not study. It was a holiday of sorts, to goof off with all permissions intact. After I left school, I’d think back fondly on some of the ones who did make an impact on my life.

Ms. Susan John’s elegance, and how she made Biology the most exciting thing ever for me.
Ms. Rajyam’s strictness while dealing with Math, and how I was in awe that she could provide answers from the top of her head, and do the logic in thin air.
Ms. Rao’s undying love for Hindi poetry and the thrill with which she discovered that I did have a flair for it after all.
Ms. Mathews keen ear and sophisticated taste for English lessons and literature.
Ms. Vishalam’s way of relating all things Physics to life. How much I’d hated it up until she made me do a whole project on Optics, and who knew, I’d actually major in that?
Ms. Brinda’s who was more like a friend to me than a teacher. We could talk about boys, periods, and sex, all during Library and she’d explain it all with patience and clarity.

DR. LG, Dr. GS, Dr. SKR, Dr. KRS, Dr. BS, DR. SG, and a few more whom I admire. Brilliance and wisdom rolled into one as each shared with me little snippets of themselves while I skipped through 4 years of school.

I’ve wanted to be like each of them in a little way possible.

Ms. Susan’s elegance, Dr. GS’s calm, Dr. LG’s depth of things neuro-ophthalmic, Dr. SKR’s knack of differential diagnosis, Ms. Vishalam’s mothering, Ms. Brinda’s art of staying friends with anyone irrespective of age differences, and not the very least, my own dad’s spirit and zeal that he carries on no matter the odds and walls he runs into.

So when a friend sent me a mail asking me to see what best I could do, I agreed right away. As a tribute to ones who did help me become part of who I am, and also in my small way to give back to the community and being instrumental in perhaps forging a kids’ dream through helping the teachers. AidIndia is a worthy organisation and apart from having a friend who’s actively involved in the Boston area and back in India as well, I have regard and trust in the way they run things.

To drive home the point, watch this video, and come back here! [Don’t ask why i couldn’t embed, it just didnt work for me!]

Now tell me you didn’t smile and you didnt reflect back on your own days of wearing crisp cotton uniform and doing PE exercises, of covering notebooks with brown paper/newsprint, of being scared of the teacher’s hand/eye, the exam-fear.
Now tell me you don’t want to share that with scores of other kids out there.

I clicked on this link and made a small contribution of what I could afford now.

So what would you like to equate your contribution to?

A pizza dinner?
That cool golf bag you’ve been eyeing?
Tickets to the opera?
A ball Game
A wii?
An iphone?
Pink snazzy heels?

It doesn’t matter what you did, as long as you did take out that little plastic card and typed in the numbers.

Thanks y’all :)

16 thoughts on “A scholar for a dollar

  1. Sigh…you’ve made me all senti now.

    As much as I hated school, I have to say a few teachers have had a profound influence on me.

    Sadly, I doubt any of them know how much they meant to that seemingly nerdy kid in the second row who used to read comic books in class.

    Great post!

  2. Rads, beautiful – I have no other words.
    AID is doing a good job. Asha(http://www.ashanet.org/) is another org, prob part of AID, focussing on children’s education. Used to be part of it in school, doing fund raising, but not anymore :–(
    This post surely has motivated me to do participate in such activities more.

    Adored the part about your Dad, was able to relate.

    It is true, that while India is no longer a developing country but a transforming country, with the software boom and all that, there is this other sad side, where the gap between the rich and poor is getting wider and wider.

  3. thats a nice heartfelt post rads. i love it when u just write your heart out. i miss my school a lot, though its been less than 5 years since i passed out (has it been that long already?).

    i keep complaining that all my education was thrust on me by my parents. but there are these little moments when i feel that i have had choices and i have made them well. i just wish more people had that same kind of freedom. maybe when i accomplish some things in life, i will share it with a few.

  4. I am a project co-ordinator with AID Baltimore, and thanks for writing about AID. With the resources we have, we try to make a difference into a world, where we have barely tread. From putting seed money into business endeavours of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Widows to Education and health care, we try to do as much as we can. Look out for a AID chapter near you, (mostly run from Universities by students) and try to participate in the events they organize and contribute as much as you can.

    Thanks Rads for this post

  5. Hey your grand dad was a freedom fighter? Nice. And you seem to be have been pretty lucky with your teacher.

    And you are really persuasive. I pity your hubby.

  6. Susan.J …oooooo I miss school :( She is such a beautiful lady!
    Ok was it not mrs Diana the library teacher?!
    great post – I miss school!

  7. All – thanks :)

    Teachers add value, some more than others. It is a noble profession indeed.

    Kausum – Thanks for adding in your thoughts. :)

  8. “Charity”, “Goals”, “People”…apt labels.

    Very well written and extremely encouraging. Well done….if your dad read this, he would be so proud!!!

  9. wonderful post. I have a roomie who participates actively in the AID India Tempe chapter. Infact I’ve attended the country – wide conference held this year in Tempe, had a great time. I know I can do very little, but then if that wasn’t there on the whole it would be lesser.

  10. I liked your question on equating the contribution to some other indulgence we could have had. I think that is a good thought to have every once in a way and may be we’d be more giving then.
    Lovely post.

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