If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
At 9 am today, I officially accepted an offer for a full-time job in Mumbai, India starting in June 2012. The moment I clicked ‘send’ on that email, I felt what was probably the biggest sense of relief I have ever experienced in my life so far, rivaled only by the sense of relief I get when I hear that McDonald’s is bringing back the McRib (it’s amazing what a limited time only McRib sandwich can do to relax you). But back to my life now…
In October, I applied for a position with the Teach for India Foundation. TFI is a nationwide movement of outstanding college graduates as well as young professionals who will commit two years to teach full time in under resourced, under staffed schools in urban, lower income schools in India. The aim of TFI is not just to provide educational opportunities to those who need it but also to identify and support individuals who will become lifelong leaders, working from within various sectors of the Indian social, cultural, economic and industrial scene, to realize the dream of equity in education. The TFI fellowship program placed its first cohort of 87 Fellows in 35 low-income municipal and private schools in two cities in India in June 2009. Since then, the program has grown and currently, Teach For India has 250 Fellows teaching in 130 schools across the cities Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, reaching out to approximately 12,000 children in these three cities.
This morning, I accepted the offer to become a 2012 Teach For India Fellow, and I will join about 450 other fellows in 5 cities across India, 65% of them being post graduate students or working professionals who are already established in their careers who will be putting their current job on hold to join TFI.
Why did I want to join Teach for India? Because I can. Lafayette has taught me many useful things and one of the lessons that is constantly reinforced here is that if you want to do something, you can. If you want to change yourself, you can. If you want to change the world, you can. You may not always know how to do it, but if you want to do it, then you can do it.
It’s time for me to learn about life. Sure, it’s extremely tempting to apply for a corporate or private sector job and go home every night with the big paychecks and the comprehensive benefits package and build my own little Utopia in my living room with a La-Z-Boy, a large flat screen TV and the newest edition of FIFA for the PS3. I obviously envy people who have that. But I realized that I’m at a place in my life when I can take the most risks and do the things that I’ve always wanted to do.
I read an interesting article by Jeff Goins titled “Three Reasons to Travel While You’re Young” which I just hyperlinked here. It’s a fascinating personal narrative that confirmed what I have felt all along – now is the time for me to live my life on my terms and reach out to new experiences that have the power to define me for years to come. (Granted this isn’t a travel heavy job but you get the idea).
Every single person I talked to who is involved with Teach for India, with Teach for America (which does a lot of cross training programs with Teach for India and whose fellows go through the same experiences that TFI fellows go through) or just someone involved in education in general has the same thing to say – it’s an experiences you will never forget, never regret and something you will always return to. So beginning in June and for the next 24 months, I will be interacting with 2nd – 5th graders in my home city of Mumbai. After 4 years, it will be nice to be closer to home and even better to be closer to so much Indian food on every street corner.
I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s hanging around at a friend’s place in Philadelphia. I’ve been to that city a few times but have never really explored it. So while my friend was at work, I took the chance to explore the city a little. I wandered through the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, checked out the Institute of Contemporary Art, walked around University City in Philadelphia and the UPenn main campus, and visited Edgar Allan Poe’s house that he stayed in whenever he was in Philadelphia. I also spent a day checking out Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Franklin Court (where Ben Franklin lived), Christ Church cemetery where Franklin was buried, the National Liberty Museum and some other really interesting statues and smaller museums in the area. Amount of money spent in these 3 days of intense sightseeing – 10 dollars (4 of which was used for subway tickets).
New Year’s Eve was a quiet time spent with some friends, some drinks and some good conversation. This is probably the first year where I have made some serious resolutions. A friend had a tradition that he followed every year which we all decided to participate in. On the night of New Years Eve and into Jan 1st, you write down 12 resolutions for yourself for the next 12 months. The resolutions can be as general or as specific as you want and can extend to any part of your life for the next 12 months. They just have to be something special, something that means something to you and something that will come to signify the next year for you. After everyone had their 12 resolutions, we sat in a circle and each person read out a resolution. We discussed the interesting resolutions each of us had (one of my friends wants to get his genome sequenced, someone else wants to travel to Brazil) and after you read out a resolution, you eat a single grape. I wasn’t exactly sure what the significance of the grape after each resolution was, but they were good grapes so I went with it.
I hope everyone had a great start to 2012. I’ve started to lay the groundwork for two of my big resolutions and I hope you guys do the same.