Govind Gullbadhar has completed his second year of chemical engineering at IIT Roorkee. He understands and feels for the cause of Avanti Fellows on a personal note. He served as a mentor with Avanti Fellows over the summer in Roorkee and Dehradun, mentoring students. Here’s a snippet of his experience…
Wednesday, 23rd of May: It had been a tough day then. Waking up early in the morning, a tiring 3 hour journey by bus, and still sweating on the streets of Dehradun to search for the Fellow’s house. I was a week old at Avanti Fellows and had met many fellows by then. But, to be honest, for the first time my enthusiasm was suffering a little setback; until I finally met Gurusharan for the first time.
I had thought of Gurusharan as an ordinary student with certain dreams and expectations. As an Avanti Fellow, he had gained due respect in my heart. However, his eagerness and enthusiasm to meet me was very high. When I reached his home, my respect for him was raised much higher. It was a family of four, living in nothing more than a single room. Gurusharan often would not find any personal space to study. There would always be noise and disturbance in the house. If he would like to study in the night, electricity failures would do the rest. No doors in the house, no organized cupboards, a broken TV in one corner; and amidst all this, was standing Gurusharan’s mother, with the same eagerness and enthusiasm as him to meet me. The love and respect they showed towards me, for a moment, made me question myself, “Do I really deserve this? After all, I am just a student; and what I am giving him is nothing more than a few hours of my time.”
I visited many fellows at their houses, and I always avoided taking food there, as I never wanted to annoy them. But with Gurusharan’s mother and the love and gratitude she showed, I could not avoid her. When the food was served, they provided me the best they could afford. I could really see the difference in their plate and mine. Once again I questioned myself in my heart,” Do I really deserve this?” My heart was filled with emotions and tears inching to come out. I was deeply touched by their love.
I had a good two hours talk with Gurusharan. He openly shared with me all his feelings, all the hardships he has to face. The more I got to know him, the more he gained my respect. I do not remember what I advised him. Maybe that day, I could offer him nothing more than a few words of love and motivation. But since then his entire life is open in front of me. Today when I look back, there has been a good connection between him and me. He has developed good faith in me, and expects me to solve whatever problem he has. And for me, I am sure that he follows whatever I advise him. I know all the economic as well as family problems he has to go through. And what amazes me; he fights all of them just to give himself one good shot at improving his life. At Avanti Fellows, we are supposed to be guiding and motivating our fellows. But with Gurusharan, I was the one taking loads and loads of inspiration from him. At the end of the day when I came back, I was not tired or exhausted; but brimming with the feeling of satisfaction.
That is just one of the 32 fellows I interacted with and just one of the many mentoring sessions I had through Avanti Fellows. Each day used to be a different fellow; and each day used to be a new inspiration for me. Through Avanti Fellows, you and the fellows spend so much time together; that the relationship does not just remain that of a mentor and fellow; but goes much beyond that. Often, you tend to see an image of yourself preparing for Entrance Examination. And this is where the entire magic lies. If they are happy, so are you; and if they are stuck somewhere, you try desperately hard to help them out.
Avanti Fellows motto is to bridge the educational divide and to provide students from low income strata of the society, an equal opportunity to reach the top colleges of India. Rightly so, but for me Avanti Fellows stands much higher. As it is said, every cloud has a silver lining. For many fellows, surrounded by clouds of difficulties and hardships, Avanti Fellows has gifted them that silver lining. Avanti Fellows has given such bright students an opportunity to dream: To dream for a better quality education, to dream for a better lifestyle, to dream for a better future; which is worth much more than providing mentorship and economic support.
At my internship, I helped my fellows dream. It used to make them happy; and their happiness would make me smile.
When someone joins Avanti Fellows, he/she is expected to be doing something for the society. Maybe, I do not know how much my efforts are going to benefit others. But today when I look within me, I find myself a much better person. This is what Avanti Fellows has truly given me. I wish Avanti Fellows all the success in all its endeavors. I strongly believe Avanti Fellows will continue to transform many more lives and will touch greater heights. As far as I am concerned, the relationship that I have developed with my fellows is sufficient to get me working. Even though my internship has ended; the relationship has not. Even today, they often call me and that makes me very happy. I believe Avanti Fellows will continue to provide me opportunities to serve whenever required. In future when Avanti Fellows will rise much higher, I will always look up to it and feel proud within that, “Yes, I had been associated with Avanti Fellows.”
And we are very glad and proud to have had you associated with us, Govind! 🙂