Social Work and Personal Growth – The Story of a Teach For India Fellow

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Equal access to education is a basic right, one that can change the entire economy of a country. Presently, 48% of the 320 million children in India do not make it past Grade 5. They represent a large and unutilised population that could contribute to the growth and development of the country if they are given access to education.

Teach For India brings together the brightest, most driven students from the best universities. Why? Because they all have the same desire — to ensure that one day, all children in India attain an excellent education. For two years, the TFI Fellows work as teachers with 30 students, in under-resourced schools with the aim of inculcating the right skills, knowledge, and mindsets into the next generation of thinkers and changemakers.

Through these two years, Fellows not only impact the children they teach, but become aware of the challenges in the Indian education system. With this awareness comes personal growth that impacts their very core.

Shreya Verma, a current Fellow and alumni of DU, joined the Fellowship in 2016. Troubled with the state of the Indian education system, she decided to start making a change beyond simply staying in the field of education.

Shreya teaches 70 Grade 9 girls at Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in J-block, Sangam Vihar and loves it. However, starting as a new Fellow wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be.

Being an introvert, interacting with parents of her students and the outside community was a challenge for Shreya. Building a relationship with the girls proved to be an additional challenge. The girls were used to a male Fellow, but in due time Shreya broke down this wall, creating a space safe for communication and vulnerability. According to her, she felt this wall break down when the girls picked up on her low emotions and vulnerabilities. Seeing her distraught, a lot of personal stories started being told, with the girls slowly opening up to her. “Now, when I come in and the girls see that I can only give 50% today, they’ll give me 50% to make it 100%,” says Shreya. She has become their didi— the person they look up to.

Emotions aside, Shreya made it her aim to provide her girls with strength and resources in school. After school hours, the girls would come to the learning centre at the Odyssey project, a project that’s part of the Be the Change Project, a Teach For India initiative. This centre is a place where the girls from her school can come, interact, and learn from Fellows and each other while developing leadership skills for the future. Shreya saw a lot of her girls coming to clarify doubts and helping one another out.

Going into her second year of the Fellowship, Shreya feels as if this school and community have been a part of her for longer than a year. She attributes a lot of this growth to her ever present Programme Manager lending support and advice during their personal sessions. For her, the desire to see her students grow and succeed has taught her the meaning of discipline and hard work on her side. The management and organisation of her classroom, lessons, and children is now reflected in every aspect of her life.

With such growth, Shreya feels ready to take on her second year and the educational sector.


Inspired by Shreya’s story? Applications for the 2018 Fellowship Program are now open, and final year students are eligible to apply. Click here to learn more. The deadline for applications is 29th October 2017.

An enthusiastic Ravenclaw, Vineeta is a keen learner and does not shy away from expressing her opinions. Her passion for discussion around gender and sexuality is only matched by her passion for French fries and naps. To chat about these or just to say hi, email her at [email protected].

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