TFN Fellowship: Striving something meaningful with my life

Feb. 1, 2020

As a very famous quote from one of my favorite books Sapiens says “A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying, even in the midst of hardship, whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.” I have started understanding the importance of leading life with this school of thought. This opportunity has widened my perception and molded me into a more empathetic individual. I believe it is very important to live life meaningfully at least for oneself. For that, you need to find yourself first. And I believe, my Teach For Nepal Fellowship journey has acquainted me with myself in the highest degree. 


 “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” It’s been 22 months of taking the road less traveled. I believe, this road has built me in an unprecedented way, the way which is so radical that I feel the difference every day. The lenses that I wore to watch the world, society, family and an individual have changed.


When I first heard of TFN, I hurriedly went to its office and soon decided to plunge into the new journey. Beating out of thousands of other applicants I decided to join Teach For Nepal Fellowship, twenty-two months ago. The Fellowship journey was to add some meaning to my life as I do not enjoy settling in places someone has already built-in for me. For this, I wanted to do something that made a difference in the lives of the students who were in dire need of exposure both in academics and profession. 


Now that I am about to conclude my Fellowship journey, I can assure myself and to the rest of the world that this journey will take all of yourself on the way but when you pause and reflect back, it acquaints you with worthwhile experiences. And this realization has made me unstoppable.


The only effort I have put in is I have focused more on providing exposures to my kids in as many ways as possible. Teaching science was a passion earlier, but soon after my interaction with my students I finally found a purpose. Every single day, I have been challenging myself to make something interesting in class which also reciprocated later with their outcomes. In my first year, 100% of my students passed their science exam with the grades above D+ without practical marks. Just a year ago, my student’s mark sheet would rely on practical marks to make it through pass marks. 

With an objective to broaden their understanding of lives, world and the opportunities that the world withholds, I  in collaboration with my co-fellow, have established STEAM club with 80% female students practice design challenge, prototype building for problem-solving part of the communities. Also, this club is a safe corner of the school where we talk about our vulnerabilities, set-backs and how we ought to grow beyond these obstacles to live a life of purpose. The girls are starting to see their possibilities through the lenses of STEAM, where they work with glue-guns, motors, wires, colors and batteries, twice a week, modeling the solution of the problems prevalent in their communities and lives. 


Being a woman who loves STEM, I feel empowered seeing young girls designing a prototype to solve their local problems. During these two years,  I worked in two different scenarios but of similar communities and schools in Sindhupalchowk district vivid with the debacles of their educational outcomes. Problem is well known - an ineffective implementation of the curriculum, and teachers primarily focusing on making students memorize the textbooks. 


I believe, the children of rural communities with hundreds of stories repelling them from schools need a set of transformative policies in the schools along with motivating mentors. This will guide them to dream and develop the zeal of curiosity and not just rote learn their textbooks. Also, the schools should be a safe corner, where teachers’ only responsibility should be directed towards student outcomes. I am personally involved in motivating the students. Unfortunately, student outcomes are seen lagging and kept in less priority list in schools that I along with my co-Fellows are working on.


In general trend, the systematic measure of teaching students just for grades is pushing our teachers in the same direction of stereotypical teaching. For the majority of our students’ learning has just been for scores. And to be fair, we at some point start chasing the numbers. So, many times I have to stop the organic way of the learning environment and pause to focus on the fact that my students need to pass anyway! I hope, one day our calibration of measuring the efficiency and success of our student's changes and the learning environment, calibration degrees, can be as differentiated as possible.


Today, when I look back, I have just been able to pave those roads for making the difference. I’ve realized for a real difference, you need consistency, dedication, passion, and pursuit towards the cause. The realization of deep-rooted education inequity and an inability of systemic policies to hit the catalyst of systemic-change in the right place is one factor that needs to be rethought and analyzed.
So I believe, TFN’s ‘One day’ will be my life-long prosperity and by having found the meaning in life, the journey in itself is going to give me something to hold onto. 


Subina Basnet is one of the 137 Fellows who is in her second year of Teach For Nepal Fellowship. Prior to joining Teach For Nepal Fellowship, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology from Lord Buddha Education Foundation, Nepal. She is currently teaching Science at Sipa Tindhara Janata Secondary School in Bhotsipa Indrawati, Sindhupalchowk. You can support her Fellows like her by donating to Teach For Nepal movement.

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