Thursday, February 27, 2014

Teach For India - Round II

Based on my online application I was shortlisted for the telephonic interview which was the next step in the selection process. I received an email on the 18th of February from TFI confirming my candidature to the next stage which was a telephonic interview. And to my surprise the interviewer was himself a Fellow (2012-14) who was teaching, in a school in Yerwada, Pune. My telephonic interview was scheduled on 20th of February. I had butterflies in stomach but I knew all I could do the best was to be myself and it would be just fine.
I was to get the call between 9:00PM - 10:00PM IST. My work timings are 12:00PM - 9:00PM IST so I rushed back home as soon as my shift was over. I opened my laptop and kept the TFI website open; my TFI application file was open and a bottle of water beside me. I played an episode of FRIENDS and waited calmly for the call, munching on to a snicker bar (Intake of sugar is always good to keep one energized and calm). To my surprise, the interviewer did not call till 10:00PM. I was a little tensed then, but I calmly opened my Gmail account and sent my interviewer a mail that I did not receive any call in the time slot allotted. And then I just served myself some food and sat down for dinner; just then I got a call from an unknown number. I find unplanned telephonic interviews extremely crucial, but then I just took a deep breath and answered the call. First, he very politely introduced himself, and then apologized for the delay for the call, narrated a bit about the whole Teach for India movement. Also he informed me that he will be typing down every answer of mine and thus, to spare him few moments after every answer.
During the interview, I firstly listened to every question asked carefully and then took a moment or two to collect my thoughts and then answered confidently. I got quite some time since he also took a few moments to type down whatever I said.

The questions he asked were pretty obvious. To mention a few of them;
1) Why do you want to be a Teach for India Fellow?
2) Why Teach For India and not anything else?
3) Narrate an incident where you displayed your leadership qualities.
4) What qualities are you looking forward to develop within you at TFI?
5) What goals would you want to achieve in the two year of the fellowship?
6) How would you like to manage your classroom differently than the others?
7) What qualities or values would you like to bring within the kids at your school?
8) What will be your short and long term goals are TFI?
9) Narrate a situation where you managed some problem or any situation by yourself and also mention if you succeeded at doing so and how you felt about it?

And few more, I don’t exactly remember. The interview went on for about 45minutes. At the end, he asked me if I had any questions to which I inquired as to how many applicants have been invited to the second round and how many final fellowship offers does TFI intend to make this year. He told me that TFI has no specific number as to how many offers would be made or so, TFI strictly goes for quality. Also, he told that there were approximately 35-40,000 applicants this year and about 7-10% is offered fellowship.

My interviewer also informed me that I would be getting my results in a fortnight’s time and roughly after a week, I got this message from TFI confirming my progress to the next round - Assessment Centre.

The message:
Dear Neha,
Congratulations! We are delighted to invite you to the final stage of our selection process for the 2014 Fellowship – the Assessment Center! Our process is highly selective and this year less than 30% of all Applicants have reached this final stage. We were impressed by your leadership, achievement and commitment to this movement.
The Assessment Center is an opportunity for us to meet you in person and to find out more about your experiences and interest in Teach For India. It is also a great opportunity for you to meet us and other like-minded Applicants.

I badly want to be a part of TFI and when I got the mail confirming my admit I was screamed so loud, my roommates almost freaked out! The last round to go now, this will be happening around mid-March. Fingers crossed!! :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

One of those annoying days!

Does it ever happen that you just wake in a really bad mood already? Maybe coz of a bad depressing dream or nightmare, or the anxiety of long awaited results, or fear of being unemployed! And sometimes you yourself aren’t even aware of the reason? This makes it even more annoying!! I mean think of being annoyed for no reason at all…I mean you can’t even figure out what could help! Still you drag yourself to work & try to work, but somehow every unsatisfied colleague has to complain to you on the same day. Everyone sounds just so irritated and is out just to annoy you.

Well to put it across, When you’re in a foul mood, everything is bad.” (Read this somewhere!)
I love my mornings to be beautiful and peaceful. A bad morning can possibly affect my whole day mood and it’s really not my preference.

Umm…I think I just need to figure out what would help me cheer up: A strong coffee, a happy song, some particular person, browsing through old photographs, writing, chocolates? I think I’ll go with loads of chocolates today. I don’t know why but a huge intake of calories always makes up my mood! Loll.
A few days back, in one of these same days, I started sketching at work, and it literally helped big-time!! :D This was what I drew..

 Anyways, sorry for the ramble guys, but had to get this out somewhere if not personally on anyone. Hope the rest of you are having a good day!  :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teach For India

"What motivated you to apply to TFI and why is it important to you that you are accepted onto the Fellowship?"

I have a very close friend currently working in Mumbai TFI, as a Design Associate, who told me about how fulfilling the fellowship is but also made it very clear about how dedicated one has to be to survive here since the program is very demanding, difficult and rigorous. I am self motivated & driven, want to empower the future of tomorrow which is these children. My life's values & objectives match the organization's goals. 

I have hardly made any contributions towards my country till date. Though in around mid 2011, when Anna Hazare organized a hunger strike at Delhi to support the “Jan Lokpal Bill”; there was a rally carried out that time in almost every city in India. I too participated in the candle light walk from Kothrud to Parvati and also volunteered in the distribution of leaflets about the awareness for the Lokpal Bill. In the short term, kids should become loving, compassionate, understanding. They should have time to study, play games for their well-being and pass on the positivity & confidence to everyone around them. 

Talking about long term I would say, these kids are the future of our country and what we teach them today is what will be carried forward by them and passed on to the generations ahead. These kids can be the change we want to see in the country & can help us get to a better position in the long term.
Success for me in TFI will be bringing a difference in the lives of the small kids. I would strive to work hard towards all these parameters & give the kids the best I have. I want to educate them & help them differentiate between rights & wrong so that they learn & then make their decisions themselves. I am sure that managing a child's mental frame of mind will be a serious challenge initially. I wish to get them out of their emotionally distressed life and get them to motivate themselves. Learning and teaching is the best way to excite one’s imagination. I am sure of achieving these goals because The fellowship will be more of an emotional & intellectual success you can say.

I want to join “Teach for India” because here I’ll meet all diversified people but with same purpose of working towards a better future for those kids. A child can get an instant smile on my face, their innocence and their persistence to learn and grow is surprising. So I would just like to end it short and sweet that I want to be here because I know I will surely love it and do justice to those kids.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Rahul Gandhi: Simpleton or Savant???

This appeared in Sunday Times last Shobha De.

The AG-RG faceoff: Naani ki Yaad Aa Gayee
Simpleton or Savant? You decide!!!
So… shall we say dumb is the new brilliant??? Frankly speaking, ‘those’ revealing 80 minutes last week stumped the nation in more ways than one. Arnab Goswami,the country’s conscience-keeper, was at his avuncular best when he spoke to the man who would be  PM , like a kindly uncleji dealing with a simple minded nephew.Not  bad as interview strategies go. A rope was given. It was gratefully grabbed. And the public hanging was complete. Rahul Gandhi broke several protective, motherly hearts (mine included), as he blindly rushed towards a point of no return, watched by a billion jeering people. The noose was tightened pretty early, but our sweet, trusting Rahul Baba didn’t realize what was happening till it was too late and he was left sweating at the gallows by an uncharacteristically calm interrogator-assassin. Without getting into ‘specifics’ ( sorry, Arnab!) of the lethal interview, let it be asked what made Rahul Gandhi take this self-destructive step in the first place? There are theories galore  (“ He has nothing to lose…he knows it’s all over for the Congress.”). But Rahul- watchers remain baffled . The thing is, this was a seminal interview. One assumes there was no death wish involved.  Someone obviously talked Rahul into exposing himself on prime time television. Who is that someone? Off with his head! Can’t possibly be a friend or well-wisher. Once Rahul put his foot into it, he was stuck! Worse, he promptly forgot the script and mangled his lines.But let’s be fair and give him some brownie points for actually finishing the interview and not running away, unlike India’s top orator and Rahul’s chief rival – Narendra Modi.Unfortunately, this interview is likely to haunt Rahul Gandhi for the rest of his life.
Since then, there have been countless attempts by Rahul baiters, haters, and rabid critics to dance on his grave and kiss him a quick goodbye. But what is far more interesting is the attempt by minders and admirers to provide an entirely different spin to the disaster. It has been suggested that Rahul Gandhi is NOT really dumb.  He only sounds it! He actually fakes stupidity! That’s how brilliant he is!! Why? Because that is a part of his larger, grander design to woo his core electorate. This is how it goes : Rahul was advised by some super brains in the party to submit himself  to the Arnab barbeque and then go flat out to appear daft. He was assured the nation was sick of listening to bombastic, old school netas making tall claims and sounding insincere. Young India, they told Rahul, was singularly unimpressed by crafty, nasty, oily politicians spouting clich├ęs, and pretending they had all the answers. Rahul had to create a different slot, even if that meant  making an absolute ass of himself. His stubborn stone walling, is also being showcased as the master stroke of the century. For, no matter what Arnab threw at Rahul, the answers remained the same. This was no accident, insist his advisors. Rahul got the better of an exasperated Arnab by frustrating him…. wearing him down…by coolly repeating himself over and over again. Rahul, they now claim, effortlessly managed to hammer home his message to those who matter the most in the next election – the youth. Rahul also revealed his personal demons, confusions, contradictions, fears, hopes, dreams, concerns, anxieties, vulnerabilities…even his monumental ignorance! This, say his friends, made Rahul more relatable and real. The idea was to project him as a sensitive, passionate seeker of a higher truth, leaving lesser beings to grapple with ground level issues of leadership, governance and other boring stuff. Gushed an acolyte, “How many leaders have the guts to bare their souls on national television?” True. They have better sense.
While the attempts to intellectualise / contextualize his responses (an absurd face- saving device!) go on, an entire RG industry has sprung up online. People who are being kind to Rahul, have been offering excuses and trying in vain to deconstruct those cringe- making gaffes.  They are also providing a clever subtext to the entire exercise. Hours have been invested searching for deeper, hidden meanings, while analysing each empty utterance. These strenuous interpretations are being dished out by those who would like to believe this was not a case of  “ The Prince has no clothes”.  Alas, the less charitable openly mock his “Power is poison” refrain, pointing out how the Gandhi family had developed an effective anti-dote to poison fifty years ago.

So what happens to Rahul Baba now?  Will the wicked ‘system’ which he is very much a part of, but likes to denounce, allow him to lick his wounds in peace and get on with life? Or will the collective scorn of opponents force him to adopt ‘their’ ways and become ‘one of them’? A creature and creation of dynasty politics himself, Rahul thought nothing of rubbishing the notion with a straight face. Now, that requires ‘solid’ acting ! In many ways, and on several levels, Rahul Gandhi paid rich and direct tributes to familiar Gandhi traditions. The nation got a lump in its throat. Seriously -  Naani ki yaad aayi.