At VIDYA, it took me a while to get accustomed to the fact that when students wished “Good-morning ma’am”, it was to me. I recently graduated from school, and it took me a while to digest that these little kids who ran across the hallways were excitedly calling me ‘ma’am’. However, over the one month that I volunteered here, this became a huge part of me. It made me feel like they were so happy to have someone new join their VIDYA family, even if it was for a short period.

I created most of my memories here through the camera lens, as I was volunteering by making a documentary on VIDYA. The enthusiasm and excited faces that popped up through my lens so they could be filmed in the documentary was absolutely adorable. When I asked students how they felt coming back to school after the summer break, each one of them said they were counting down to school reopening. Moreover, when I asked them to speak about a favourite memory at VIDYA, each student said that it was too hard to list just one, as they have their best time at school. That was when I was certain that how the students felt here really was beyond just a compulsion to go to school – they felt secure, competitive, excited, and eager to learn whatever is taught to them.

When I applied to VIDYA, I really wasn’t certain how I could contribute; most of all, how much work could there even be for me for a month. However, once I started, time just fleeted as I juggled between taking interviews, capturing the essence of the school with my camera, documenting the summer camp, and working on the sponsorship proposal presentation. VIDYA helped me understand that a professional work environment doesn’t always guarantee you to perform in your comfort zone, but to step out of it and grow. As much as photography and filmmaking were well fitted in my comfort zone, I dreaded making a PowerPoint presentation as I had minimal experience using the tools. However, I was given complete freedom to design the first draft of the sponsorship presentation. The sense of achievement I felt being trusted in exploring an area I had minimal skills in before I started at VIDYA left me so content.

I remember people asking me why I wanted to work at VIDYA now that college was a month away, and that I didn’t need social work for my resume anymore. Now that I’ve come to the end of my time here, I really wish I could effectively describe how it feels when you work for a cause bigger than yourself, without any reason. I may not have made much of a difference in a month, but the excitement the students here felt when they saw me explore the school with my camera, or run up to me to wish me, was more than worth it!!

– Arshiya Bhayana