Monday, January 19, 2015

Beyond High School Education in The Heat of India

It was a Friday afternoon, in the burning heat and sweltering humidity of West Bengal. Everyone was excited to go for the long weekend and so was I. Suddenly the world stood still, my eyes blurred with tears of pain and anger. I was breathing as heavily as the Spanish el Toro agitated by the color red. I felt powerless as I was glancing at my end of term results that I had failed, attaining a score below average. My self-esteem was crushed and the only feelings I remember were anguish and pain.

I knew that I had let the people close to me down. But what hurt the most was that I failed to achieve my goal; I simply let myself down. I was confused.

A couple of days later I overheard two senior students talking about how a biological ecosystem is self-sustainable. I was curious and went out to watch the sunset in the rice fields. I could sense the smell of fish mixed with the smell of rice paddy fields; it was rejuvenating. As I carefully observed my surrounding, I noticed the terrestrial and aquatic organisms whose complex interactions left me flabbergasted. I pondered upon how these organisms have different, independent roles in the ecosystem, yet enhance their living through collaboration. Beneath where I stood was a colony of termites feeding on dry straw. I watched them eat and began to think about how termites are incapable of digesting what they feed on in the absence of hypermastigote; multi flagellate organisms that are symbiotic and present in their guts. Hypermastigote helps termites in digestion and extract nutrients for themselves in the process. These two independent organisms are imperfect but survive through interdependence. I deduced that imperfections are what operate a sustainable environment and I related this to my failure and my imperfections. I realized that failure exists to teach us unique lessons and it is a medium that allows individual reformation.

Now I can proudly look at my good grades, which are a result of using failure as a means to progress and my perseverance.  Surprisingly, from my experiences and adventures I have recognized many values and assembled a collection of skills that make me an adroit learner. Above all, I have learnt that the pursuit of knowledge has no room for fear or failure. Having experienced these hurdles I opted for voluntary community service during the summer break.

The adventures from which I received my information shall forever affect how I perceive life; one infinite, mysterious puzzle waiting to be solved with tools; failure and ability to learn and improve from it. One thing clear to me now is that I want to impact a diversity of concepts and perceptions, by acting as a tool to help others in need, like I do in my local community.

My family and my community remain the biggest source of my inspiration and motivation. And I believe that being at University and finally obtaining the Bachelor's Degree will signify a new commencement for me and my community, as it will prove that the world is full of possibilities for those who strive to attain them. I carry the hopes and dreams of my mother who only went as far as 8th Grade and above all my community. There is nothing that motivates me and makes me feel more content than returning to my community.

-Dalton Munkombwe 

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