Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Knowledge is great, literally!

Being thoroughly bored with my Chartered Accountancy coursework and keeping well in mind that I will be required to show some amount of volunteer work on my resume to apply for B-schools, I applied to a charitable organization in Mumbai to start volunteering there. While work took up my weekdays, going to the NGO was going to be my every Saturday goal. On the first day, I was asked to reach their office in Mumbai where four other volunteers and I were given maximum possible details regarding the organization and work done by it; at the end, we were asked to provide the nearest possible location that we could volunteer at, accordingly, I was assigned a BMC (BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation) school. The school, located in Parel, was a government run school where Marathi was the main medium of coaching. However, the NGO had co-ordinated with the school to provide additional teachers and extra volunteers (like yours truly) to provide English medium coaching. On my first day, being completely clueless as to what needed to be done, I reached the school and was assigned two very mischievous children to whom I had to impart the basics of English and Math. May I add Class II English and Math, something us adults take for granted, I had to actually teach the nuances of. 

Only two words can possibly describe my experience, exhausted and exhilarated. The enthusiasm with which the kids started doing Math was sincerely shocking for me. It made me think about how lightly I had taken school just because my parents could afford to send me to one of the best schools in the state. At the end of day, I spoke one on one with the principal of the school and to my shock, heard myself say “I’d rather have back-end work, like managing the library or something.” After giving much thought to my words, I realized that taking the future of a couple of kids in my own hands is some responsibility I would not at all be comfortable with! What if the kid can’t understand these basics and fails in advanced Math, what if the kid doesn’t understand the grammar and vocabulary I am teaching and fails in English in an English medium school! The next Saturday, I was given the task of arranging books in the library and that has now become my Saturday chore at the school. I love the work. I love books, I like order, I like things being organized, I love the fact that at least someone is benefiting from my work.

Only recently it hit me with full force that my CA course is about to come to an end and all the future decisions that I had put off, will have to be made soon. I enjoy the work at the school so much, that I know for a fact that I wish to work toward education, toward betterment of society through literacy. While I was earlier focussed on joining an MNC post my qualification and drowning deeper into the work I no longer genuinely had fun with and obtaining an M.B.A. to worsen my life, I now want something I enjoy, even with a lower pay but with satisfaction at the end of the day. After thorough research day-in and day-out, my ultimate goal now is to join the AFID- Accounting for International Development and provide volunteer accounting work as frequently possible, what better way to utilize the knowledge I learnt? This organization does volunteer accounting across the world and helps various charitable organizations in improving their financial management with a thorough assessment and consultation.

But, only armed with an accounting degree and no knowledge or background in social services, I researched various universities across the world offering a degree in Social work. While a Master of Arts is out of question for want of a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master of Science in a related social service major is my goal. I particularly like the MSc in Social Work offered by the University of Portsmouth, England. The coursework includes an introduction, basics of social work, practices thereof, scope for improvement, practice placements, policy analysis and need for change therein, and social work on a local, national and international basis. This course, spread over two years is, in my opinion, one of the stepping stones for me to get my wish. There can be no greater satisfaction to me than to see my qualifications being put to use by charitable organizations primarily aiming toward improving education worldwide. Knowledge is great, literally!!