Kids Speak: One Girl’s Journey of Unleashing her Potential
Shy, hesitant, introverted are a few words that come into my head when I think of the Rutuja I was when I was in the 4th grade. I can visualise myself sitting in a corner and doing my usual work all by myself. I had friends, but it wasn’t bond where we shared about our lives, but where I followed what they did.
However, my life transformed completely when I began the journey of Maya. Maya is a musical that was performed by kids from Pune, who all came from diverse demographics to stage this broadway style musical. The story is about a girl named Maya and her journey to find her light by experiencing and practising the values of courage, compassion and wisdom. Like her, I too began my journey 5 years ago with 30 other kids and Teach For India teachers.
For the first time in my life, I lived away from my parents for a month. This made me more responsible as I had to wash my clothes, wake up on time, take my medicines, etc. During these four weeks, we were introduced to new concepts like journaling for example. Journaling wasn’t new to me, but it was new to understand the values of reflection and penning down our thoughts on paper. After every dance, singing and theatre class, we were asked to reflect on how the class went and how the facilitators could make a few changes through the constructive feedback we gave them. Today, wherever I am, I unconsciously reflect and make note of my reflections in my mind. Honestly, I believe that reflection is the core value which has shaped me in many ways- both big and little.
On the path to find my true potential I also came across the most kind-hearted, determined, loving and caring human beings that I’ve ever met in my life. The medium through which I resonated with people around me and created strong relationships was our sharing circles. Sharing circles were a space where all of us came together to support and listen to each other. A space which made me open myself up to share my happiness, sorrows, difficulties and concerns. A space where I knew that each one of us trust, love and care for each other. A space where I got to be who I am and could express myself without any hesitations. This practise strengthened my articulation and communication skills, made me confident and courageous and also strengthened my problem solving skills.
Priyanka, a fellow cast member on Maya, and Tooshan Bhaiya, a teacher and mentor of mine, have been the ones I love the most. Tooshan Bhaiya is my best friend. You may think a teacher can’t be someone’s friend. However, he has proved this wrong. We three are philosophers- we meet and we start discussing about life and the tiny things around is. We have a really strong relationship which will continue to be, as Priyanka is in the US, Tooshan Bhaiya is in Cambridge and I’m in India but we still take time to talk to each other to talk about whatever we want. I truly feel fortunate to have these wonderful, lovely people in my life who encourage and inspire me to move forward in life and achieve my goals.
The time after Maya was an opportunity for me to be wise and inculcate my learnings in my day-to-day life. In Maya, we also focused on community service, and I was inspired to stay involved with it. So, later as part of my school project, I began a community centre where there were five kids who I worked with in improving their English reading and writing skills. Now, I’m looking forward to a totally new chapter of my life. One where I will travel to a totally new country, and begin my final years of school at the United World College Thailand International School. Looking back, a shift that I’ve seen in myself is how aware I was of things around me. Maya taught me that if you want to change something, first you need to change yourself.