Nisha’s take on RDF

Nisha Chatterjee is a volunteer from the Washington University in St. Louis who came back to volunteer for her second time at RDF for the past two weeks. Here’s her take on RDF:

Nisha Chatterjee

 

I first came to Kalleda with four other students and a professor from Washington University for four weeks in the summer of 2010.  One of the other girls, Rachel, and I planned on returning for our winter break but flight delays and luggage problems prevented Rachel from catching her flight and the holiday season meant flights for the next few weeks were booked, so I ended up in Kalleda on my own.  I began my visit to India with a visit to the RDF Matendla school, which I was very impressed with.  RDF’s aim for a holistic education for students of rural India is realized at Matendla.  They have a student-run bank, where students can deposit their savings and withdraw at their convenience.  This bank is complete with receipts and cheques and the works, and one student even has over 600 rupees.  This bank is only one of the several programs they have running to make sure that students are getting everything they can out of their education- they are learning from much more than a textbook and are getting valuable, lifelong skills in communication and that well help them long after they leave school.

Nisha with Bindu, Ravali, Akhila, and Vennela from RDF Kalleda School

 

After Matendla I went to Kalleda, which feels like my home away from home now.  During my two weeks stay I directed two classes at RDF Kalleda School every day; one was to help teachers with their spoken English, and the other was an English class for about twenty 7th-9th class students.  I am amazed by the energy of the students to learn- they came to class so, so, so excited every day.  I was touched; sometimes, being a university student, I get so bogged down with papers and presentations and work and busyness that I forget the simplicity of just wanting to learn.  Being in Kalleda brought me back down to earth; I wasn’t on a computer, I wasn’t trying to shove down a meal in 2 minutes as I ran off somewhere, and I wasn’t in a race with myself to get things done as fast as possible.  Life in Kalleda is a reminder to breathe, and to not take things so available in America for granted.  Most importantly being in Kalleda is a reminder of the existence of love and kindness that people who seem at first so different from you, who have no obligation to do anything for you, so willingly give.  I received a namaskarum every day from every single person I walked past- the RDF Kalleda School faculty and students, the JC gatekeeper, the villagers walking down the road.  It’s easy to forget how important simple recognition of other people is in a world of technology and competition, but RDF and Kalleda have reminded me to appreciate these things, and to recognize that the well-being of the entire world is based on this respect and recognition.

Nisha with Swathi, Mounika, Sandhya, and Shirisha from the RDF VAPV Junior College,

Now I am leaving for a second time, but I plan to stay in touch with RDF from abroad.  I appreciate RDF for recognizing that textbook learning and rote memorization comprise only a small part of quality education; values such as integrity, honesty, self-reliance, and punctuality are essential in the making of minds that will be the future of this country, and I respect this organization for trying to empower children with these qualities along with a good understanding of standard subject material.  I am lucky to be able to see first-hand how education through RDF is changing the lives of so many eager, bright, wonderful children.  The teachers at both RDF Kalleda and RDF Matendla seemed very genuine and had a good attitude, and in this way I think the students will look to the teachers as role models and develop some valuable characteristics that they will maintain throughout their lives.  I hope one day all the goals of the organization will be fully realized in all five schools and the junior college. I already see a vast improvement from five months ago in terms of the infrastructure of RDF, the website, the marketing, and way the junior college is running. I wish RDF and all the amazing students and staff the best.  Until next time…

Mugulu design by Nisha and Sandhya

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