Environmental Education Officer, WRCS Nisarg Shala, Melghat Follow your Heart!
📷During my academic years, I faced the same challenge which more than 80% students have. The challenge is to choose what to do. Fortunately, I had no pressure of taking up a specific career by parents at home, but I didn’t know what to do. I kept searching for what I am good at and what good I can do with that. Even after a lot of SWOT analysis and personality tests I was not sure. I was done with my academics and was still in the same dilemma. By then I had started to volunteer with NGOs and I used to teach underprivileged kids. I started with one task and kept changing careers. Time was flying by yet I was still searching for the answer. And one fine day it dawned on me. I wanted to be involved in teaching, public speaking counselling and influencing young minds. In 2017, I got an opportunity that I yearned for! I was appointed as an education officer with WRCS. My assignment was to develop and impart environment conservation education to students of 23 tribal residential schools. The schools are spread across vast area of Melghat and I have more than 950 students in my class! I took up the assignment happily and started preparing for my class. Our education program is aptly called "Nisarga Shala Melghat (Environment School, Melghat)".
A Ray of Hope!
It takes a lot of effort and time to prepare for the teaching sessions. I prepared my talks downloaded interesting and engaging videos and graphics. I planned the lectures keeping in mind the rural areas students around Pune where I have taught previously. I assumed that it would be the same in tribal schools. However, I was wrong. Before coming to Melghat, I had read much about tribal education programs and how one can teach the students. I had prepared my lectures along the same lines. It had lot of interesting photos, videos, and graphics to keep them engaged. On my inaugural lecture, I was accompanied by Shubham, my colleague from WRCS who is working on conservation program in Melghat. Shubham, a highly talkative guy is like a high energy electron. We both conducted a pre-assessment test, before the start of my session.
📷My first class was in a residential girl’s school. The session went well but I couldn’t see the curious faces here. Being the speaker for about more than 5 years now, I concluded that I am the new face for them and the students will speak up in the upcoming session. Again, I was wrong. I experienced the same silence in class rooms for a couple of more sessions. I was confused and worried thinking I have not given my best! Shubham used to pacify me “Not to worry! This is normal. Remember our school days? We also would fear the teachers and keep quiet in front of unknown people so give some time! “ Shubham gave me a ray of hope!
Speaking with the Pen!
📷Days passed and things changed for better. I had caught the attention of the students. The students became responsive and friendly. That time I introduced a new activity called “Speaking with your Pen”! I gave a blank paper to the students and asked them to write any question that they got in their mind but never dared to ask. After the class I opened the chits and it gave me a peep in the minds of these children! It was whole new world for me! These children think and how…! Their questions were mindboggling “who invented the magnet? who was the first man on the earth? why do birds shed feathers? How often does a mind think? Is the intestine of humans and frogs same? And the list went on…! I was dumbfounded! And I was super happy to know that if these children are given an opportunity to think and ask, they are at par with any City School Children and may be even surpass them in their intrinsic observation and intelligence!
And when Jayjivan Spoke!
📷In October, schools were closing for Diwali break and all children were going home. I would resume sessions in November. Before parting, I asked the students if they had any questions. And they had many. “Sir, how do I become a Forest Guard?, After 12th Science, what should I study? And many more. I was very happy that they were now thinking about education, about their future and communicating freely with me.
📷 As I was leaving the class, I saw one student waiting in a corner. I asked him if he wanted something. He replied, “Sir, I want to become an environment educator, I have started liking the subject and want to teach like you”. These words were like music to my ears. I can still feel the magic those words made to me. All the tiredness at the end of the day suddenly vanished, I felt my blood flowing fast, and tears began to roll down my eyes. I regained composure and I answered the student about how he should go about it. And after wiping my wet eyes, I asked him his name. He replied with a smile, "Sir, Jayjivan, 11th Science "!
📷Today I am extremely happy. I got my first award that the first flower of my 950 plants garden has bloomed. I would travel 10 times the distance I used to travel for this happiness. I am in the right direction and I am beginning to make a change. I am looking forward to my next teaching sessions. There is an educator in all of us. Yes, you the reader, you too are an educator inside. Just help one to make this world a beautiful place.