The red ribbon! #ThankYouTFI

‘Wow! Is this the place we’re going to be living for the next one month?’ — As we entered the foothills of the mountain, I was fascinated to see the name board of the University which was mentioned on the welcome email.

With the limited Hindi that I know (actually, very limited Hindi), I reached out to check with the driver ‘bhaiyaa’ (a new Hindi word that I learned on my way)

“Wo pahaad ke piche” (It’s behind the mountains) — he replied back.

I remembered someone quoting long back – to pursue your passion you should be ready to cross the mountains. They must be true! There I was – crossing the mountain all the way to the place where I will receive my first training for a professional job.

As we reached the top of the mountain, I saw breathe taking view of the other side – filled with so much of green. That was the real beauty! I didn’t know by that time, that this will be a view that we get to witness for the next 5 weeks, every day.

I’ve always heard from my seniors that the training you receive before your first job is always crucial. As a fresh graduate, I was so curious and was well prepared mentally to take down a lot of notes and to pay attention to all the content that’s being offered in these 5-weeks of training. Starting my career as a teacher with a non-profit social sector organization is nothing but a gifted opportunity to me.

As I kept on thinking, the cab slowly reached the downhill after some ‘Z’ turns and then to a straight road which took us to the destination.

The security received us and requested to do an entry on the register as we enter inside. I got down from the cab, went to the entry point and wrote down my name for the first time with the new fresh identity that I had ‘2016 Fellow – TFI’.

The cab journey continued for a while, even after we crossed the security gates for some time. The campus was so big and I realized there is more scope for us to get lost.

As I was glancing over this place, the car stopped at some point – the driver ‘bhaiya’ told me that this was the destination. I got down from the cab – to see a big fountain in the entrance of the campus, was also able to see many of my fellow ‘Fellows’ taking their luggage and slowly walking towards the first building that’s visible.

I took out my luggage as well, which I’ve been packing for the past 2-3 weeks carefully (so I don’t miss anything out and struggle in a new place) – they were so heavy! But still, I was able to manage carrying it.

I was delighted to see so many diverse people – across states from north to south/east to west of the country walking the ‘path’ along with me. It was quite interesting to overwhelming to see that we have so much of youth – who believe that change in education space is possible, inevitable and who chose to change by offering their time and commitment. I’ve never met such passionate, curious and confident people like them. Naturally, there was so much positivity on the air!

I felt a little bit of cold breeze and some droplets of shower over me as I walked closer to the fountain. It was a refreshing feeling both internally and externally! I was also able to notice – there were so many colourful charts and pictures on the trees, walls and everywhere in the space.

While I was witnessing all these things and continued with my slow walk carrying the heavy luggage on my hands – suddenly I saw a person running all the way towards me shouting ‘Hellooo!’.

I was surprised but at the same felt relieved seeing someone with empty hands coming all the way, maybe to offer some help in carrying the luggage. As they come closer I saw the ‘Staff’ tag on their ID cards!

But then, they came and requested for something very different.

‘Show me your hand!”

‘Okay. But, why?’

Show me your hand. Listen to didi!’

‘Okay. Here you go.’ — I dropped my luggage and showed my hand.

She took a piece of red-colored ribbon and tied it on my wrist and shouted in an excited voice.

“Welcome to Teach For India Summer Institute. Now you’re a part of red team. Red represents courage. We will be starting with an exciting game in another 10 minutes. Please go find other red team members and join with them.”

“What? The Institute had already begun!” — I was puzzled at the same time was super excited. There cannot be any other better challenge to begin with by playing a game that too with completely new people.

I enjoyed the activity. I got to interact and know people. I learned why they all joined TFI.

And more importantly, I realized something very interesting – education or training is not just about learning, it is about instilling energy, enthusiasm, courage and curiosity among the learners! Building a community is not just about people, it is about them creating a culture of thriving, growing and becoming stronger with a greater purpose!


All this happened on my first day with Teach For India as a Fellow at 2016 Summer Institute! Can’t believe its 4 years already – looking back, every day I had new learning with new people, doing new things on this journey.

#ThankYouTFI for everything. Adios, for now.

Aravindhan

25, passionate and optimistic. Teach For India Alumnus & IEEE Young Professionals volunteer. Educator & Instagrammer!

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2 Responses

  1. Venkatraman Ravi says:

    Awesome inspirational story bro. I felt as if I was going to my job training. It was really engaging. You are very fortunate to explore such adventures.

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