Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.
– Margaret Mead
A truism if ever I have believed in one. And made me spend an hour every Saturday for 5 months, talking to children of Indian origin at the School of India for Languages and Culture, in Minneapolis. This is a cool initiative run by Indians to teach their children about Indian-ness, and the many facets of the country.
The class had around 7-8 kids, with ages ranging between 10 and 14. We would spend the hour talking about Indian history, mythology, geography, current affairs, Bollywood and almost any other topic under the sun. Sometimes we would also end up talking about the Minnesota Vikings, and how they needed a new quarterback, and about the Indian cricket team.
Every session was an eye-opener for me – these kids had amazingly well-rounded and well-informed ideas about a lot of things, and if not they would go and read up and come back with well-prepared ideas. And were they articulate.
One day during spring, we took the session outdoors, and ended up playing catch, and just talking. I was asking them why they were at SILC (and nobody said because our parents wanted us to), and one of them turned round and asked me about my reasons, how come I was doing this when I had work, or could be out camping/hiking/ etc. Made me think. Wasn’t an easy one.
And I figured that the real reason I had come there was to give something I possessed (knowledge about India) to others who didn’t. But the real reason I had stuck around was because every Saturday I was learning new things about India, and myself, from the kids. So much for giving. 🙂
That was an ‘ah-ha’ moment, a moment of truth.
Volunteering, while it starts out as a means to improve some facet of someone else’s life, ends up enriching, or adding to the volunteer’s life in completely unexpected ways.
I found it to be true for me then. And true for all of my other volunteering experiences.
A truism? 🙂