Antoine de Saint Exupery in The Little Prince
“And the Little Prince broke into a lovely peal of laughter, which irritated me very much. I like my misfortunes to be taken seriously.”
We do this, don’t we? We take our troubles seriously. Soon, they become the masks we wear, the baggage we carry, and wherever we go, they seem to tag along, like a good friend. And when our troubles become our friends, we gradually begin limiting ourselves. They become the lens through which we view the world. We begin to make sweeping statements like Singing? That is not me, oh no! I could never dance like that!, or I cannot draw to save my life! or Climbing a mountain? I guess I’ll pass that one, or even, I don’t really laugh all that much, or I don’t have too many friends.
We take on these identities that we think are us. Just imagine, on the one hand, there is life throbbing with colour, activity and creation. On the other hand, there we are keeping ourselves within our self-imposed boundaries. Do you feel the gap? Do you see that the most important thing in life, is life itself?
How wonderful it is then, that the Touching Lives After-School mentors have thought of addressing this very thing in their program this year. How truly wonderful that this year, the children of after-school will peel off the layers they wear one layer at a time!
“Yes. That is our process”, says Aditi, the After-School mentor, discussing the Touching Lives way of teaching and learning, “We maintain our focus on three things- knowing, doing and being. We work to un-peel all these layers, gradually. Ultimately, we want our children to know who they truly are and what their goals are.”
One of the important changes at Touching Lives, this year, is the After-School Teaching Fellow. Syadla brings her unpeeled self, and works with the conviction that “Once the child knows her/his true potential then s/he is on her/his way to explore all the learning this world has to offer! They are on their own journey. The idea of self-work dominates everything that is happening at the after-school class.”
The Touching Lives after-school class focuses on five core areas of learning relationships, mental health, physical health, English and academics. The teaching explores an interconnection between all of these areas and makes it a wholesome learning process. You find the children slowly opening up to themselves and their surroundings. They learn more, absorb more and give to and receive from the learning process more effectively! After-school being a workshop and activity based program, the students will be part of many different activities from skits, creative writing, Angel workshop, healing sessions, value-based activities, and debates, to making dream catchers, theatre performances, yoga, photography, publishing a newspaper, story-telling, and so much more.
Aditi is excited about the energy shift in the class this year, she talks about how Meditation has made this possible, “Having children to settle down for meditation has always been a challenge. But this time, Syadla is trying out different meditation techniques, and it is working out so well.” Syadla has herself grown to adopt meditation as a ritual, she says, “I cannot imagine starting my class without meditation. The group energy has helped me bond with the children, so well so soon! On one instance, the mediation took on such depth that, we could not bring ourselves to open our eyes. The children continued to meditate for 15-20 minutes.”
There are many such instances and they will continue to occur as the year progresses. It is time to stay calm and keep going with absolute involvement. Now, in fact, is the time to evolve. Syadla expresses her thoughts on mentoring beautifully, “The motto is that the child needs to believe in his/her potential. The moment you start believing, you start being that. That is the greatest achievement of the mentor – that the child becomes who he intends to be.”F