By Anjali Vijayan (MAE – 2014)
Born and raised in Madhya Pradesh, a native from Kerala. The growing up adolescent years made me question on cultural, social identities. I used to deeply disregard the notion of freedom -given by others and power exercised by the privileged. After doing graduation B.Tech in Bioinformatics, still the desire to achieve what I am meant to, remained unboxed. I worked for Wipro for two years are as project engineer. Everything that a young adolescent could desire of big buildings, coffee breaks and all cultural -social capitals. Still, there was urge which was unsatisfied. I used to feel like a bonded slave. Somehow none of my friends resonated to my views. They spoke of onsite projects, dreams to book a flat, car etc I was odd one. Unfortunately now I call it fortunate, I was a misfit. I felt I am much more capable of, that this swiping in and swiping out to maintain 9 working hours. I questioned myself what I am good at.
I felt I can empathise with people, I can talk to anyone, strike a dialogue, I am passionate and can express. There was love for people, humanity and children. I wanted to have a career like this. It seems impossible to get a work like this. Months later I got to know about Azim Premji University, when I visited the website the broad goals and objectives resonated to what I wanted in my life. I applied and got through the course.
There I met ‘my’ professor’s inspite of excellent academic background’s they were humble people, with genuine encouragement, always pushing us forward. A versatile background of people, classes, sects and all bonded with one common goal to create value in society. I learned to work hand in hand with people, as if we were all one. Anyone could do anything in the sense of exercising one’s freedom. There was immense tolerance. We were what we were ! From celebrating any and every festival to exercise rights of the cleaning staff to community visits to everything, I loved being part of APU.
I wish I could come back and study more intensely.
This gave me confidence, in believing what I have thought only to myself.. I met people like me and my feeling that ‘ what is used to think is right’ has intensified. It was an exposure that changed my thinking. There was no judgement at any point. I was mediocre and still call myself a ‘mediocre’. But I learned many dimensions to that exposure. In no means I could have reached to such great experts on field other than this university platform. I had no such privilege.
After 2 years of my beautiful years in APU I started working after a campus placement in Shivnadar School as a primary teacher. Learning from the best school gives me a practical aspect of all learning theories, best practices and a 21st Century Education.
I used to feel, my whole course, why I am limiting to a school..a privileged school, group.. now I see that was the perfect training ground the understand the processes and structure. The alumni stories gave a lot of courage to come out of the ‘regular’.
I quit a comfortable job, which my father says as most comfortable job with an AC Bus picking you and dropping and AC classroom. Till joining, I actually did not reveal it to my father.
I am happy to share, from last 4 months I am part of Parivaar Education Society’s new project in Madhya Pradesh, run in the most interior,rural pockets of Mandla, Sehore and Dewas Districts. Free Education cum meal program. The challenges are myriad, with the interplay of low fee private schools and public schools, varied learning levels, multi-level and multi-grade and drop out children. Class, Caste dynamics, as agrarian society children are involved actively in agrarian activities. We enroll students from age 3-14years and are ultimately aiming to map the learning level to their grade levels. There are intense community engagements. There are many dropouts who has joined our Kutir model, they see joy, love and happiness here. We open our kutir at community let spaces, appointing most eligible teacher from the village as teachers and 3 cooks and train them. My role as Education Anchor involves challenges from teaching and training these teachers with lots of warmth and compassion. My task includes to create a curriculum in the context of the child. Each day at work is a pandora box of a new challenge, a new twist and a new problem.
I am grateful to ‘my’ University, for changing my life. Today I have a problem which is profound in itself. Thank you so much again. I have truly changed my life and my destiny.