11 June 2011
The second half of the year is off to a good start already. Lots more interns have joined the campus and there are more trips being planned here and there and to top it off, I can finally say I’m finished studying. I’m also doing a project I enjoy and I’m happy to say that I have tried my skills out at publishing and now we have a little internal newsletter that I put out each Wednesday. Now if only I could get paid to do this for a living… but that’s another story.
So from one form of studying to the next, last weekend I officially graduated from my masters program on Friday and the next day I was back in primary school – that is, to hand out notebooks to the children in the village schools around Bangalore. After coming back from a night out at 01h30 and having a mere four hours of sleep until I had to wake up again at 05h30 to catch the volunteer bus, I knew it was going to be one long day. Two of my fellow interns joined as well which was nice and off we went to the schools.
First stop was at the main school I guess and we got there at 8am and already, the kids were all lined up neatly in rows, doing their morning exercises. All this on a Saturday. There they fed us some breakfast – rice and a fried tempura style chili. It was interesting to have had to eat with my hands and I think I did pretty well given the fact that I hadn’t done it since I was like five. The school we were assigned to was the last stop on the list so we got to see all the schools along the way and at every stop, I was impressed to see the turn out. I know some school kids who won’t even wake up on a school day to go to school and here were hundreds of them, up early on a Saturday morning when they could very well be sleeping in, just to receive notebooks.
The initiative was run by a number of dedicated employees at Infosys and each year they help over 5000 students in over 80 schools. All the money for the notebooks were also donated by the staff and as a volunteer, I felt as if I got so much more out of this experience than I ever gave in. We got to see rural India, the farmlands, and schools in the region. I loved the warmth and hospitality of these children and the way they would just run up to you to introduce themselves and shake your hand. Some were shy whilst others were curious and asked a lot of questions. Either way, they really made us feel welcome.
Finally, after distributing a all the books, we took a detour on the way back to Bangalore in the late afternoon and stopped by a farm owned by one of the organisers and helped ourselves to fresh coconut juice, picked some mangoes off the trees, had the most amazing jackfruit and tiny baby bananas. It was just what we needed to replenish ourselves. It was a truly wholesome experience, one that I’ll remember for a long time.