Journey and Destination
Oasis. The word conjures thoughts of safety, sustainability, and hope. The Riverside school is more than just a school in India; it is an island of prosperity in which social responsibility is crucial to the education of a child.
As we left the bus to begin our twenty minute trek to reach the school, my expectations plummeted. The land we were on was hot and littered with trash and cow feces. Furthermore, both the livestock and farmers did not look particular happy that we were on their property. I began to imagine the Riverside school in my mind. I pictured a cement structure with barred rusty windows, and equally depressed children. Throughout the journey my expectations dropped and dropped as we passed by shacks surrounded by raw sewerage, and cows with ribs jutting from their patchy fur. Truly we were in a land of misfortune. At one point during the walk we rounded a corner, and a sophisticated and confident structure emerged from the filth and despair, the Riverside school.
I was shocked. As we entered the school I could hear the sounds of children laughing and singing, and watched as they walked into class in their manicured uniforms. Moreover, the school itself was painted in rich shades of blue, yellow, and green that reflected the warm emotions of the environment. The administrator of the school greeted us in the lobby, and assigned us to students for tours. I was placed into a group led by a 4th grade girl and a 7th grade boy. The spoke to us in perfect English, and expertly toured us throughout their home. Not only were they clear at explaining the layout of their school, they also had a keen sense of their school’s purpose, and were grateful that they had the opportunity to be there.
After we left I had time to reflect on my experience. I was confused and frustrated that the Riverside school represented hope and fulfilled dreams, yet it only helped the few students who happened to be accepted. Moreover, I was angry that everyday children living in absolute filth had to walk by the Riverside school, a symbol of hope. I can only imagine their feelings of frustration when they first realized that they would never have the opportunity to enroll in Riverside, and attempt to climb out of poverty. I believe that the Riverside school is doing a fantastic job at educating and preparing their 300 students to take on a challenging world. However, I find it heartbreaking that there are literally millions of children in India that will never be able to receive the same opportunity.