My Experience in Akshara

My name is Smita. I have an MSc (Electronics) degree and a B.Ed. degree also. I used to love in Bhusawal, in Jalgaon district of Khandesh. After I completed my education, as I was wondering about taking up a job, I was offered a lecturer’s position by my college. I accepted it and started teaching.

For two years, I taught Junior College students. When I look back on that experience, I realise that I did little which was fruitful in any manner. I had never, however, wanted to make a life career out of college teaching and I was dissatisfied somewhere deep inside. I was earning, doing my job but all the while I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

This is how my journey in the field of teaching began.

But where there is a will, there is a way.  I got the opportunity to shift to Pune with my family – this was one of the best things that happened to me since it was better for my son’s education and also for my career. Things are not, however, as easy as they seem at first. Pune was going to be an expensive city and I was faced with the need to take up a job. Once I settled down in the new city, the search for a good job became my priority. By a stroke of good luck, I applied for a job with Akshara and got selected through the interview process. At that time, I only knew that I was appointed to teach mathematics.

On the very first day, I went to a nearby village, Bhadas, with Harsha-tai. It was raining heavily and I was confused about where we were going. Our vehicle stopped near a house in the village and Harsha-tai inquired about a girl named Poonam. We were told that she had gone to the river to wash clothes. Naturally, I figured that we would now have to go back and that we had wasted our time. To my surprise, Harsha-tai asked the driver to take us to the river! I sat back quietly, curious to see what would happen next.

Our vehicle bumped along the rough road and stopped at some distance from the river. Harsha-tai started to shout: “Poonam, Poonam!” but her voice could not reach the girl who was quite far away at the edge of the river. A passerby called Poonam and a few minutes later, a dusky little girl with very expressive eyes stood in front of us. From her conversation with Harsha-tai, I understood that Poonam had recently passed her 10th std examination and now wanted to study nursing.  But her parents were against the idea.

We took Poonam with us in the vehicle to her house. There, Harsha-tai tried to convince Poonam’s parents but her mother would not give her consent. Then, Harsha-tai used a firm tone of voice and strict demeanour and managed to get the parents to permit Poonam to study the course that she wanted to join. Within the next few weeks, Poonam’s admission was secured!

This whole experience was very new and exciting for me! I realised that this was what I was looking for and I was so happy to have found it!

In Akshara, teaching does not mean only enhancement of knowledge. It’s more like taking the whole responsibility for the children’s education. It also means application of knowledge in a practical way. Before coming to Akshara, I was an ordinary teacher who was very strict about discipline and study. At Akshara, I learned a whole new meaning to education. I learned to look at each child as an individual.

A very positive change occurred in my personality after I joined Akshara. Earlier, I used to be a very short-tempered person and would express my opinion rudely and inconsiderately. Now, I think deeply before saying anything to anyone.

Harsha-tai’s sentence, “First respect yourself, then others”, helped me to regain my lost self-esteem. It has changed my way of looking at myself. I was never so sure about the decisions I was taking, used to be full of doubts, but now I take my decisions strongly and firmly. People in my family now look at me positively. I can’t think of myself without Akshara. Due to Akshara, I have developed so many good qualities like consistency, leadership, creativity, etc.  I no longer fear the English language!

In Akshara, every day is full of excitement and new things. I never get tired here.

Another important thing about Akshara is the team member relationship. We all have a very good understanding between each other. Our work relations are very transparent. We have different types of discussions and brain-storming sessions on a variety of topics. From this, I have learned that each issue has endless possibilities. For example, although I watched lots of movies, they were just for entertainment and fun, it never occurred to me to structure a discussion around it! Now, I watch movies with a critical eye.

I have also understood that money cannot buy me the qualities I have developed in my personality. Money can never buy me experience. Akshara has a very special place in my life. Words are inadequate to convey my feelings.

If, in the future, someone develops a machine to measure the intensity of experiences, then I am sure that in my case, the instrument will break! I cannot explain in words how much space Akshara occupies in my life.  

I love you, Akshara,

— Smita Talele

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