In Youth 4 Global Goals: The Series Season 2, sponsored by PwC, 10 young people went across the globe on an AIESEC Global Volunteer experience to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Read the story of Maria Beatriz Vilela from Brazil, who went to India to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education

I arrived in Jaipur on a Thursday, August 5th, and at that day I had no idea what a challenge Índia could be. You can read about it, you can listen to people’s experiences about it, you can watch a thousand documentaries and films about it, but nothing, nothing, prepares you for the intensity of living here. Between Tuc Tucs, cows, people, elephants, spices, colors, car honks, motorbikes  and a sea of stories untold you end up finding chaos and peace inside the only possible place, yourself.

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Even experiencing time here was a challenge for me 1 day seemed like a week and a month like a year.

In India all happens at the same time, and everyone dances together in the symphony of the present. I lost and found myself so many times and in so many places that is impossible to remain the same at the end of two months here. If the country wasn’t fascinating enough what I was about to experience inside the classroom completely changed my perspective of life, poverty and happiness.

At one point of my life I recognized my privilege, I can’t tell exactly when or how, but I just realized that the opportunities that I had weren’t the same for everyone. Coming from a country of huge inequality I was extremely grateful for having everything that I had but after awhile being grateful wasn’t enough for me, I needed to find a way of trying to give that back, and for now, my way was to make a small contribution in the education of children from a village in India.

There are probably 100 people living in the Gonel village outside Jaipur, the kids there go to a local public school in the morning and to the project in the university during the afternoon, their parents send them there for different reasons, to help them with ENGLISH, their homework or just to escape from their everyday reality.

So everyday, we had around 21 children from 2 to 13 years old. Most of them don’t speak English at all or speak very little. At first I thought language would be the biggest barrier between us and the kids.

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Most of my leadership role models come from a classroom. They inspired me throughout out my life in every possible way. 

Most of my leadership role models come from a classroom. They inspired me throughout out my life in every possible way. And that’s what guided me in this experience, everyday, I wanted to give the students a new perspective of education and to be a role model for them, reinventing myself all the time to answer the question: How can I support and inspire the kids today?

To see them blossom between paints, songs and games made me sure that love, attention and care are the start point to change the way we deal with small kids in a classroom. The kids that in the beginning were afraid of being asked their names and that associated going in front of the class with humiliation at the end were singing and dancing their favorite songs in front of everybody and also going to the whiteboard, in front of the whole class, to write what love is for them. Love that for them come in the most simple things: dogs, family, cats, flowers, best friends and books.

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Having the opportunity to share my day with such a special group of children made me learn a lot about loyalty and selfishness.

They were always sharing whatever the little they had among themselves and always looking for each other, making sure that everyone in the class had the same things, from a candy to a piece of paper. Even being that young you could feel the sense of community they had among themselves and how pure they are in their relationships.

A lot of times it was very  hard to handle such a different reality, seeing them asking for a pencil because they didn’t have one or having to fix for the 10th time the sleepers of one of the students was painful. Facing inequality so close made me give my best to listen, talk (even speaking different languages), share and love them, everyday, even if just for 6 weeks. Education and knowledge is the only thing that no one can take back from you and, for me, is the biggest way of changing people’s life and reduce inequality.

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This experience was a journey of love, care and self discovery and also the beginning of a really long path.

Would you like to know more about my journey? Have a look at Youth 4 Global Goals: The Series! Would you like to live an experience like mine as well and create an impact for the Sustainable Development Goals? Sign up and become a Global Volunteer yourself!

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