One Monday afternoon, the counselor came up to me, “Mam, this is a new admission, Chandan. He is a beginner level students and needs to be taught from the basic.” Teaching basic students has always been a challenging task and requires much more patience. So I was slightly upset. Tall and slim, Chandan entered the class. He said, “Mam, mujhe English sikhna hai.” The passion in his voice melted my heart.
He then began telling me his story. He had come to Mumbai few months ago from a small village in the north. He lived with his uncle in Malad. His uncle worked as a carpenter and has taught him the trade too. However, he feels that he is capable of doing much more in life. He has few friends near his house who work in corporate offices. He wishes to work in one too but his lack of skills and qualifications are barriers for him to accomplish his dreams. He is only a 12th pass that too from Hindi medium. He told me that he wants to learn English and complete his graduation.
Chandan was regular in class and worked very hard. He began by learning three and four letter words. Whenever he learnt something new, there was a sparkle in his eyes and a huge smile on his face. I felt as if he could already see his dream coming true in his mind.
After learning basic vocabulary, he began learning sentence structure. He would often ask me questions such as – “Mam, mein ghar pe nahi hoon, how to say in English?” or “Maine kaam khatam kiya hai.” When I helped him to frame these sentences, he would repeat them often. I told him to start using these small sentences outside the class too. He felt happy whenever he spoke with others in English. At times, some people also laughed at him when he made mistakes but he never let these things discourage him. He revised everything taught in class at home and asked questions whenever he was confused. At times, he would randomly ask me, “Mam, what is the meaning of allegation? I read in the paper that – Those allegations were false. But I did not understand meaning.” When I explained to him that allegation means a claim that someone has done something wrong or illegal, he said, “Ohh! Now I know the meaning.”
After 3 months, Chandan had learnt to converse with others in English though he wasn’t yet fluent. What I admire about him is his perseverance. No matter how late he comes home from work, he doesn’t sleep without completing his homework. After learning to read, he reads the news paper whenever he gets time. All his efforts were paying though his better communication skills. He participated in every activity – reading, debates, group discussions. We also conduct special NSDC classes helping students develop their telephone etiquette and teaching them to communicate with clients over the telephone.
In his fourth month, one day he entered class with a box of sweets. He distributed pedas to the whole class. With joy in his voice he said – Mam, I got a job in a call center as a tele caller. I was very happy for his success. However, his timings were in shifts and he couldn’t attend class regularly. He said that he read a book on his way to work and back. At times, he would message me asking for meanings of certain words. With time, his course was over and on his last day he gave a speech on – My journey with Speakwell. He spoke about all the obstacles he faced and how he overcame them. He inspired other students by saying that nothing is impossible and if he could learn English then anyone could. He also expressed his gratitude towards me for guiding him in his journey.
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Four years later, I got a call saying – “Good morning mam, this is Chandan, your student. Do you remember me?” “Ofcourse,” I said, how couldn’t I have forgotten such a person. His voice brought back memories right from the day I was upset as he was a basic student to the joy I experienced on his last day. Images flipped in front of my mind like a movie. I asked him about how his life has been. He then continued, “Mam, I completed my graduation and I have been promoted as a team leader. I am planning to do an MBA and join a corporate. I wanted your advice if I should go for a part time or full time.” I adviced him a full time MBA as the future prospects are better, also he had both – funds as well as the time. He liked the advice and went ahead to do his MBA.
That was Chandan’s story –from a non-English speaker to one who can speak in English confidently, from a carpenter to a team leader, from a non-graduate to someone pursuing an MBA. The word Impossible itself says I’m possible and this can be seen clearly in Chandan’s life.