Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meeting Children, Teens and Adults in 24 hours - An Unforgettable Experience

When I started studying at the Ohio State University, my on-campus job was at the University's Child Care Center - helping teachers, playing with children and spending time with them. Since my educational background was different from my graduate studies, I was supposed to take pre-requisite courses with the Undergraduates. And then of course was attending classes in my school. It is a professional course
My day began in the morning at the Child Care Center (CCC). I had never known children before my time at CCC. After getting over my initial awkwardness with the children, I began enjoying there. In a lot of ways, I liked the innocence of children, seeing up and close of how children learn the basics of life - not just A, B, C,s - but also learning to eat, learning to walk, interacting with other children, adults and so much more. I began to look forward to interacting with them. There was a really sweet girl, who's mother was at a big position at OSU. I asked her once, "What do you think mommy does at work?" And she said, "She drinks water." All of a little over two years, I broke in to a smile having listened to her reply. The children didn't have sibling rivalry at that age. The kids would love it when their brother or sister came to pick them up with mommy or daddy at the end of the day.

After spending 4-5 hours with them, I would attend courses with the undergraduate students. And suddenly you could see how different they were. It made me think about the importance of the different stages of life. These students were all grown up, they were in their late-teens, and I was in my late-twenties! These students were all about keeping up with fashion, texting their friends during class and in a hurry to leave once class got over. Although I knew what to expect, I was still somewhat amazed that students attended class in track pants and shorts. I felt this way as this was not the norm in India where I'd had all my education. I began missing the innocence of the toddlers. The teens would have a different expression on their face when I said that I didn't live with roommates, but with my husband as I was married. It seemed like they were always in a hurry to do everything. What I really liked was to see the energy they had. The energy for life, energy to do things and just go on.

Attend spending a couple of hours learning the pre-requisite courses, I went to my graduate school. This was a professional course, where everyone was dressed really well, some in ties and jackets too. My day literally consisted from muddy pants, to shorts to ironed trousers and business attire. And it went beyond just the clothes. Some of them were fresh from undergrad school, but a lot were in the middle of their career, who attended school to enhance their knowledge on different subjects.

My colleagues at graduate school identified more with who I was, that I was married and came from a different professional background. They were not in a hurry for things. Grades mattered to the undergrads and graduate students both. But not as much to the latter. For them, it was important to be able to use the knowledge at work. There would be times when I'd feel like some of these graduate students would be parents of infants and toddlers and teens also! And that they've gone through so many phases in life.

I sometimes got overwhelmed with school, spending time with really different people, and trying to do well in school. What helped at that time was taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. The little infants and toddlers gave me perspective on several things. That proper upbringing is so important and in many ways lays the foundation of your life. Stepping back and seeing the bigger picture made me see that each phase in life is so important. The experience of undergraduate years teaches you so much, make great friendships, etc. And then graduate school was important in terms of applying all that you have learnt, teaching others and more.
I have finished the pre-requisite courses, go only to graduate school (have only six more months of studying left!) and left child-care to work at a place that is more relevant to my school work!

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