To my teachers and the teacher in me!
**Healthy dosage of self-esteem**
As they say, charity starts from home; when the topic is my teachers, it ought to begin from my grandparents to my parents, school & college teachers, and everyone who taught me a lesson with love or otherwise.
September 5 marks the birth anniversary of Sree Sarvepalli Radhakrishna garu, an Indian teacher who became the second Indian president. In India, we celebrate Teacher’s Day on this day. As Teacher’s Day in India. In 1992, that laid the foundation for me to recognise I have teaching skills too. Teacher’s Day gave our school’s senior students ( call it 10th class/grade/year, whatever) a chance to be teachers for that day. I don’t remember how it landed in my lap, but I acted as one of our favourites -Karuna teacher and taught Maths to our immediate juniors. I, along with another friend, won the ‘ best acting teacher’ awards. The best compliment was that one of the students understood the concepts of ‘Sets/Venn diagrams and functions’ much better when I taught.
My dad, a professor with a passion for teaching, has built an excellent legacy molding many students; my mum, a teacher, gave up on her dreams for us; my sister taught statistics to undergrads for a brief period. At this juncture, I have to mention my maternal granddad, who initially taught me proper letter-writing and drafting for debates and essay writings. This mentoring left strong imprints on my little brain to be a disciplinarian and a perfectionist in anything I attempt. Until I left India, I also tutored little kids around my house who couldn’t afford private tutors, which helped them pass their primary school tests. This pure exchange of knowledge is close to divinity which my whole family has been practising. I bow to my parents for guiding me to have those beautiful, priceless experiences. Another beautiful concept which I reiterate in many of my posts was the ‘vaaralabbay,’ the culture of feeding a financially challenged student a day a week. My parents followed that for a couple of decades at least, and we had many students who would come to have dinners on certain days of the week for as long as they pursued education. Education indeed is valuable and a gift to have.
I have a special reverence for some special teachers in my life and respect for all the teachers who taught me. I took every teacher seriously, showed respect, obeyed rules, and been their favourite too. These are the principles instilled by my dad, Dr. Ayalasomayajula Gopalarao, a disciplinarian to the core, an author, and a former member of the Official Language Commission of India. He is a gold medal winner for the Best Ph.D. Thesis award and Best Professor award recognised by Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, who served as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and was the ninth President of India.
I bow to all my school teachers, my Bharatnatyam/ dance master, my English, organic chemistry, and biology lecturers at college, and marketing gurus at university. Every teacher has time for all students’ needs. I am blessed to meet my 10th class teacher on Facebook, who, despite a 25-year gap, noticed that I have a flair for writing, which led me to this blog. Thank you, Radha Rukmini teacher.
Now, I teach at eVidyaloka, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on transforming the educational landscape of rural India. This teaching is an eye-opener for my kids and me, who may use an electronic device with high-speed internet 24*7 to play games or use it as a dictionary. Those residential students use one laptop for about 22 of them with internet run through a telephone landline plus random power outages. With Covid and lockdowns, those students use their parents’ smartphones for an hour a day for learning before the latter goes for daily jobs, and also, we can hear each other only when the internet is stable. I have to thank my brother-in-law, who introduced me to this, and he, himself, is a volunteer teacher at this organization.
At this juncture, I also have to thank my children for giving me a multitude of opportunities to learn and teach. It came to me as a surprise when I was asked to teach simple Indian cooking to 5-7-year-olds in a school while in England, to be a mentor at US schools. The trust I get from my mentees boosts my energy and helps build my mothering skills. Coming back to my kids, my son sets his own rules, and my daughter a disciplinarian. My son has changed my take on things and helping me better myself, whilst my daughter reforms my traditional thinking subconsciously.
Thanks to my best critique, my husband, it’s a privilege to share life with a sage person.
Last but not least, a special mention to my friends who are teachers and my teachers who are my friends now!
Happy Teacher’s Day!