When I sat down to interview four young ETASHA trainees, they were understandably apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. When I asked them who would like to be interviewed first, three of them remained silent, looking down. The remaining student looked at me directly and said “I will,” and offered to respond in English to the best of his ability, knowing my limited Hindi vocabulary (which is grammatically incorrect at best). He introduced himself as Rajiv Maurya, a fifteen-year-old who had just finished 10th grade. When asked what he enjoyed doing in his spare time, he said, “I like painting, but I also like studying.” I was quietly astounded; very few children his age (at times, myself included) would classify studying as a hobby or enjoyable pastime. ETASHA had not just given Rajiv a window into the world of education, but had simultaneously instilled within in him an innate desire for learning, which is the single most crucial trait in any type of educational system.
However, that’s not to say Rajiv’s only hobbies are painting and learning. He elaborated that he enjoys watching English movies, including action thrillers like the Men in Black series. His father, a newspaper deliverer, is the only member of a family of five with a substantive income. When a friend of his informed him of ETASHA’s existence a few months ago, Rajiv joined, not really knowing what to expect. In hindsight, though, Rajiv asserts that choosing to enroll was one the best decisions he has ever made, saying “I always liked computers, but ETASHA showed me how to use them well and get their full benefits.” Indeed, the MUPSE program focuses exclusively on improving English speaking (the results of which were evident to me throughout the interview) and increasing basic computer-based skills, notably in Microsoft programs. One day, Rajiv hopes to land a job involving computers and technical skills.
Like it has for countless other disadvantaged youth, ETASHA has given Rajiv training, inspiration, and most importantly, hope: hope for an improved today, and a much improved tomorrow. These new skills are being manifested in every facet of Rajiv’s life. For example, he pointed out that he recently began to enjoy watching wrestling (to all enthusiasts of the sport, his favorite wrestler is the Undertaker). He explained, “Now that my English is better, I can understand the comments and the sport better.” ETASHA hasn’t just changed the way he studies; it’s changed the way he thinks, and in the long run, that will make all the difference.
Stay tuned to hear about how ETASHA is giving trainees just like Rajiv the tools to succeed in the future!