Determination and Opportunity

At the first government/TFI school I visited in India I was taken aback by how little these schools have. I walk in the classroom and the first thing I notice was that the kids were without desks. They would simply sit on the floor, which was wet from the season’s rain, with their books in the lap ready to learn. Ever since my first day of pre-school there was always desks and chairs available for each student in every classroom. Noticing the simple materials that these schools live and learn without allowed me to see what I take for granted in my everyday classroom. The eight and nine year old students were extremely diligent with their work and incredibly respectful to their teacher. Whenever their teacher were to speak to the class or begin to teach she would immediately have their attention and focus. The students would be writing in the notebook with intense concentration wanting to get every word and question as perfect as possible. Watching these I again began to think of myself as a student in the elementary school system. I was a good student and always earned good grades, however there were times that I could’ve been perceived by teachers and my fellow classmates as a troublemaker. Initiating a class distraction with the teacher or another student, because I was bored at the idea of learning and being in school. Unlike me these kids were excited to be were they were. It was evident that these students were happy to take advantage of the opportunity that was presented before them, despite the fact that they had extreme limitations on supplies and experience.

As I sat in the classroom making observations and many comparisons to my early education there were many questions that confused my thoughts as a privileged individual. I sat there pondering the why in all the whole of the situation. Why them? Why me? Is it fair for them to been in this place whereas I am somewhere else? Their talent is just as a good as anyone else’s yet I know that for most of them their success in life will be limited to an unreasonably low level. That the opportunities that are presented in their life won’t even come close to their matching their full potential as human beings. And as I sat there at that very moment I felt like there was nothing I could to give them those opportunities and no way to justify the question of why.

Throughout this short two-hour experience I experienced an emotional rollercoaster of gratitude and laughter to feelings of my heart being broken by the struggle and hardship. However, something that really stuck with me was the satisfaction I felt when I got to see some of these kids laugh and smile. Given the opportunity to play basketball seemed like an oasis away from the hardship filled life that these students experience. The floods that have affected their lives and the poverty that consumes them seemed to be put on pause as they got to laugh and enjoy a moment of passing the ball to a classmate or watching Matt Shea fall over during a defensive slide. Being a part of the opportunity that allowed these children escape for a brief moment gave me sense of satisfaction was an emotion that I will always remember and hopefully continue to experience.

- Hallvard Lundevall

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