A new chapter in Pondicherry

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18 May 2012

Ankit Dixit, Operations, Pondicherry

In May, our newest addition to the Avanti team, Ankit, went to Pondicherry to full-time manage our JNV program. Our goal in Pondicherry is to establish a high impact e-learning program. This model will allow us to extend our reach to far-flung areas in rural India, where there is a significant shortage of quality teachers. Ankit was inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm he saw among the young people assembled in Pondicherry from all across India. Here’s his account of his first session with the Fellows:

Today a new chapter started in Avanti Fellows Pondicherry.

Our new Fellows all come from different cultures and backgrounds. The living conditions here are a little harsh. Because of this, I felt a need to develop a culture among our Fellows which is based on giving and sharing. I decided to open our workshop with the story of the Giving Tree.

The story goes like this: Once there was a “Giving Tree”. The tree was green and full of fruits. A kid used to go to it and ask for fruit. Every day the tree would give him the fruit he needed. The kid grew older with time so did the tree. After some time the tree was not able to produce fruits. The kid came to him and said “Now you can’t give me anything. You don’t have any more fruit.” The tree smiled and said “I still have my shade. You are now old enough to read. You can come every day sit in my shade and study.”

Time passed and the tree grew older; so did the kid. All the leaves of the tree were gone. The kid came to the tree and said “Now you can’t give me anything as you have lost your shade too”. The tree smiled and said “I still have my dry branches. You can take them home and burn them to cook food.”

Time passed by. The kid was now an adult and the tree was cut down. There was only a small portion of it left above the ground. The kid came to the tree and told him “Now you have nothing to offer”. The tree gave a faint smile and told him “Whenever you are alone and sad you can come to me, sit on me and talk to me. I will be there for you”. The kid was not able to say a word as the tears were dripping from his eyes.

I told the students that we all have someone who is a ‘giving tree’ for us. I asked them to close their eyes and think about them. We had a mixture of older Fellows and new ones in the group. The story helped them to share their stories about their life journeys: their motivation, challenges and aspirations.  The story helped them to open up and connect in a better way to each other and to us as trainers. They explained the support they have received from their families, and how hard they have worked to get to where they are.  I could really see the spark and enthusiasm in them and it moved me a lot.

“Fired up – Ready to go” is the slogan of our new Pondicherry chapter and I can see it in all of our new Fellows!

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