All The Little Things

“Success consists of a series of little daily efforts” — Mamie McCullough

            As soon as the gate was opened to let our three cars into the courtyard, we were already getting it. Some students who were playing volleyball in the play area slowed and started to glance over. Students in the classrooms were peering through the windows. Older students smiled, younger students were confused with some even shy. It was not normal for a group of foreigners to drive into their little peaceful playground and disrupt the flow. That look meant something different for each student. We started walking around the hallways, heading to do what we were scheduled to do and students would inevitably pass by. Occasionally, I would hear some whispers or see amazement, fear, or confusion in their eyes. One younger student passed by on the stairs and all Tamas and I (both over six feet in height) could hear her say to herself was “wow”. The look they gave us could have been joy, hope, curiosity, or fear of the unknown, I couldn’t tell. They had a brief idea of what we were here for though. Most knew we were here to bring change. The first thing that I did with one of the alumni we were working with was visiting a classroom. It seemed normal though, the teacher was more genuine than some of the teachers that I had in the past. Students were participating — sometimes looking back to stare at me with that look once again, but I kindly told them to turn back and listen. It was expected of us to change the school in a way, but at first it felt impossible because everything seemed so normal. The day went on, our notes got more complicated and connections began to happen but occasionally it was tough to stay concentrated to the work I was doing. Students got more comfortable with our presence, and instead of looking, they started to smile at us, wave, approach me and introduce themselves. I would wave back, smile as much as I could, and answer questions that they had for us. I even played a good game of football with a few students that were my age. Seeing the smiles on their faces and outbursts of laughs with us there changed my mindset for the rest of our time here.

            We are a group of ten students and three teachers, and there is no coincidence that we were were all put together. We each bring something unique to the group, whether it be spontaneity, amusement, leadership, knowledge, care and/or comfort. We all also brought a hell of a lot of love. We did not come, especially to Puna and to the Akanksha schools to show pity and to fix all their problems — we do not have that power. Nor do they need that, their school functions quite well to begin with. We came, in my opinion to contribute the love we have to offer for those who need it for growth, and learn from our potential. To give some context, we were teamed up with alumni from the school and another local school and given two weeks to come up with a change that we can implement in the community. Two weeks is not enough for people to come in and offer a change that can permanently help the community. For this reason, it was incredibly difficult to start doing this without being teamed up with alumni who have lived day by day through the school for years. We are limited to not being able to do everything we can, because what we might think would be helpful for the community, may be not what they need at all. We still have an effect though, in trying to help the alumni find what their school is in need of. What I also realized that interacting with everyone we see will also have a great effect — larger than we think. So no matter how little the act may be, making eye contact, smiling, waving, shaking their hand, introducing yourself, stoping to talk or playing games with them, happiness will arise — and that is exactly what we are here for.