Stream of Consciousness

|Author: Evan L.|

It is 12:15 am right now. I just spent the last two hours trying to write a blog post which I titled A Case for Optimism. My intent with this post was to try to disrupt my usual pattern of writing on fairly negative subject matters then ultimately throwing my hands in the air and declaring helplessness. I attempted in it to show a different side of myself. See until writing that post I firmly believed that I was an optimist.

Suffice to say that people who know me well will not be surprised when I say I was completely wrong. Despite having brought in outside evidence and talking to someone who deeply inspires me with their positivity, writing the piece it just kept getting more and more difficult. I felt limited by the ultimate goal. I was trying to convince everyone that despite all we have seen in India optimism is not unreasonable. The problem was/is that I don’t believe that. I do not know what I believe. I know I am not a full-blown pessimist, but I am hardly the optimist I optimistically (wink) hoped myself to be. That was pretty bad sorry.

A startling conclusion I know. People are not one thing or the other, but rather a combination. Unheard of. In any case, I took a break, exercised a little, and decided to write something completely new. Using up more of the precious time I should be spending on our projects, but that’s just how much I care. More realistically, this is probably all the product of massive procrastination.

Clearly, I have talked about myself enough, so I am now going to talk about my opinion of someone else I met here in India. Really changing things up.

Dasappa is a mathematics and programing teacher of 8th through 10th grade in a rural town just south of the Bangalore International airport. As planes fly above their school every day consuming as many resources as possible, he attempts to teach his students and covers their everyday needs. This means he and other teachers pay 400 of their own rupees to water tankers twice a week to ensure the students access to their most basic needs. When tests are coming he stays at the school far after hours to help students study. Additionally, every day he faces a two-hour commute to and from the school back home before any rest is allotted to his schedule. All of this is for no salary, this school’s teachers are mostly volunteers. To get money for himself Dasappa has to tutor additionally, outside of class. Yet Dasappa does not dream of leaving on those planes overhead, his goal is to remain here. On holidays and weekends, he attempts to reach out to NGOs like Biome and others to improve the school’s quality of life.

My pessimistic reaction was that he was exaggerating his role and simply wanted to put on a good show for a company who was potentially going to help him.

My optimistic reaction was hope. Having someone like this exist in the world be this dedicated to helping the next generation could only take humanity forward.

These thoughts all flew through my head as this man told us his story through our incredible translator Anna.

This pessimism and optimism all swirl together, and I am left there with my honest gut reaction. Jealousy. I felt in awe of this person who was dedicating every part of his life to a cause and was getting results. Not only were we talking to him about a proposal for a rain water system, but recently a fairly large sump (water storage tank) and RO filter had been installed.

I am not proud of these thoughts, they just are what they are.

Dasappa’s story is just one story. There is also the excited kid who took us to his house and proudly described and showed us his own rainwater harvesting system.

Pessimism tells me that he and the poorer children who attempt these government schools like him are constantly forced to pick up the slack of the rich. Optimism counters with how much hope his engagement shows for the future generation. Combining leaves me hoping this kid is able to use his incredible engagement to change the world in the future.

There are more, but I have already gone on far too long. I will let you decide what these thoughts say about me.

I will leave you with a final thought. Coming to India I was optimistic; it was finally my chance to apply to the world what I had been learning in school in an area I cared deeply about. With seven weeks here I can safely say that pure optimism is gone. However, I think I like what’s in its place. The new slurry of half formed thoughts is much so much more complicated, but equally more realistic.  

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