Last September, I heard of Abhyasika, a non-profit initiative of IIT Bombay that supplements school students’ academics. I joined as a volunteer subject tutor. I was assigned a twelfth-grade student whom I was supposed to teach Physics.
I was a bit anxious initially, uncertain about how good a job I would be able to do. Being very coherent while speaking is not my forte, so I had reasons to be as such. There were times when I would get irritated when he would not understand something even after my repeated tries. Or when he would not complete his homework.
But I became more thoughtful of my reactions after the initial few weeks. After all, I used to be the same a few years ago. I wondered how my teachers would have felt then. I became calmer and more considerate of his plight.
A few weeks ago, I came to know that he had been accepted at a Dental College in Mumbai. I felt satisfied in the knowledge that I had played a part in getting there. Most of us have things that we are up to all the time. We seldom have time for some social work. I have found this volunteering very helpful for me personally too.
I had been very stressed and demotivated throughout the semester because of my own dismal academic record. I never found reasons to attend my own lectures. They were boring. There was nothing to look up to. On the weekend, however, I looked forward to teaching. No matter what, I made it a point not to miss it.
Now, I am a coordinator at the centre. My responsibility is different from what it was earlier. Now, I manage the whole batch of students and the teachers who come to learn there. Sometimes, they ask me questions which I find silly, like simple translations, division etc.
But I have realised that it is hard work. To explain something as easy as division or multiplication in a way that is understood by a school kid takes a lot of thinking and introspection. And once I was able to do it, that feeling was childishly joyful.
When I can see that what I did helped somebody, in whatever way, I feel good. I do not need to wait for too long to see a smile on their faces. For all their mischief and goofiness, they make me smile a lot with their silly jokes, seemingly obvious puzzles, the chess games etc.
There are very few places where I can get that satisfaction.
I am glad to be a volunteer.