Make a Difference. Teach for India.

As a kid, I remember thinking

I wish I had a teacher whom I could ask anything. How did the universe begin? How did living things come in to being? I wish my teacher was a friend, a mentor.

I was fortunate to be able to study in a very good school, with the best of teachers in my city. We would ask questions here and there, but I wish I could ask more, always. There was always something more lurking at the back of my mind that I wanted to be answered by someone knowledgeable. Little did I know that so many Indian children do not even have access to a school, let alone a good teacher; that over half the students drop out by upper middle school. Getting answers was not their biggest problem; most had not even learned to ask.

Some of the best times of my life have come while teaching at my own school. There are few things greater than the sense of fulfillment that one gets after sharing knowledge with young, creative minds.

It is to align this sense of purpose with education inequity in India, that Teach for India has stepped in. Their model is very similar to that of Teach for America: recruit brilliant, young minds as teachers, and help them connect with students who need them the most. They provide leadership and mentoring for their teachers, while making significant difference in the lives of young students.

Only in their nascent stage yet, TFI has already acquired a good batch of teachers from some of the best colleges and companies, all of whom have had enriching experiences. The program is looking for talented individuals, and provides generous financial income and housing support as per Indian living standards.

Below is a peek in to India, its children, the education system, and Teach for India. Get motivated. Make a difference!

Favorite Poems

This post is just an effort to put some of my favorite poems at one place. I will list some lines from the first two poems and leave links for other poems so that everyone can take a look.

1. Robert Frost’s memorable lines “… miles to go before I sleep from Stopping… have always inspired me. These lines have a message of hope, enthusiasm and vitality. The natural imagery, description of sounds and the rhythm create an almost magical effect.

Frost’s Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening:


The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

2. Another all-time favorite is Rudyard Kipling’s If. Although Kipling’s opinions and overall legacy are a matter of debate, there is no denying the beauty of precious wisdom that he managed to convey through If.

If – Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
…..

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
…..
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
;

….
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!


Other poems that I’ve liked a lot include:

3. The Road Not Taken — Robert Frost

4. I’m Nobody. Who Are You? — Emily Dickinson

5. Hope — Emily Dickinson

6. If You Forget Me — Pablo Neruda

7. Haiku (Frog) — Basho

8. Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines — Pablo Neruda

9. Risk — Anais Nin

10. Auguries of Innocence — William Blake

When it comes to humour, one must take a look at the works of Ogden Nash and Spike Milligan. Milligan has also written some cute, mushy verses like this one:

If I could write words
Like leaves on an autumn forest floor,
What a bonfire my letters would make.

If I could speak words of water,
You would drown when I said
“I love you.”

Are there any writers that you especially like? Which poems are your favorites?
P.S. — To conclude, below is the first stanza of hope:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all…

— Emily Dickinson

P.P.S — Recommended by Vidya: Poems of Margaret Atwood

Recommended by Dhaarini: Desiderata
http://www.fleurdelis.com/desiderata.htm &
Considering the Snail
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/considering-the-snail/

Michael Useem on Leadership Lessons from Capt. Sullenberger

He had just taken off on Airbus A320 from New York, when his plane was hit by a flock of birds. Captain Sullenberger reported a “double strike”. Both engines had been hit in mid-air, and anything could happen. With a composure bordering limits of human objectivity, he landed the aircraft safely in the middle of the Hudson river. Not a single passenger was injured.

US Airways Flight 1549 afloat in the Hudson

US Airways Flight 1549 afloat in the Hudson

———

Prof. Michael Useem is the Director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In his recent column for the Washington Post, Prof. Useem has identifies key leadership insights from Captain Sullenberger’s actions. Let me share them here:

1. We should first develop technical mastery of our main goal.

2. We should then be masters of our self-discipline. Ignore distractions, focus on what matters.

3. Master making good and timely decisions.

In learning about those five minutes and the entire life that prepared him for those minutes, we may be that much better prepared for those future moments when our own leadership is on the line. Thank you Captain Sullenberger.

Often in life we come across circumstances that test us to the core. We are also occasionally witness to others being tested. Those moments can become snapshots of everlasting lessons. Have you learned any such lesson(s) in similar ways? Feel free to share..

P.S. — Prof. Useem is also the Editor of the Wharton Leadership Digest. I had the good fortune of interacting with him when I wrote an article for the Digest last year.