EdStory by Preethi from Trichy. She’s a teacher and curriculum designer.
When do you believe we learnt the art of co-operation, motivation and team work? It doesn’t begin only when we become adults and start our careers but much before that!
It was the year 2002, when we, the tenth graders went on a three-day school tour to Ooty and Coonoor, two beautiful hill stations in Tamil Nadu. As expected, we had a lot of fun sight – seeing, chatting, singing, dancing, shopping and what not! We were around 150 students who went for the trip but we as a gang of close friends, we were ten in number. To add to the enjoyment, it was the birthday of one of our friends, Riya. Ours was a big notorious gang, notorious to the extent of earning the reproof and discontent of a few teachers along with being indirectly bestowed a highly prestigious title of ‘Spoilt tomatoes’.(Note: We got good grades and never got into serious trouble, except for a limited amount of tiny pranks which we thought (and still think) were excusable.) Another point to consider is that many teachers actually liked us since our gang also consisted of some of the smartest students in the school, including a state rank holder, the Pupil Leader of the school, school house captains, NCC cadets and so on. I am able to speculate what’s probably going on in your mind at the moment and so, even though I am extremely proud of my friends, I will stop my boasting here and continue with the story.
While we were enthusiastically celebrating Riya’s birthday in Shweta’s room in the exquisite resort where we were staying at Ooty around 12 o’clock midnight, the adventure began. Two of our friends, Aarthi and Christine suddenly went missing from the celebration and the rest of us were driven into total panic. We searched for them everywhere but we could not find them anywhere, and so we became devastated. We informed the matter to our teachers who became more tensed and anxious as they were the ones responsible for our safety.
We were highly suspicious of the receptionists who were two men, since we all were girls and all our teachers were women. The receptionists in turn doubted us of mischievous behaviour since we had not told them about the incident and were wandering about at midnight without any teachers (who were in their rooms waiting for us to bring news). We did not ask the receptionists anything about it as we did not want to give them any clue that two girls were alone and missing and give them any false ideas. We gave them Riya’s birthday celebration as an excuse for strolling around at midnight.
Unpleasant thoughts clouded our minds as we feared what might have happened to them. As is the nature of human crowds, a particular division encouraged us to hope for the best whereas the other group frightened and discouraged us by imagining the worst. We were in tears for some time and lost all hope but then gathered up courage after Yamini took up the situation in her hands and gave us a good plan. She asked us to get divided up into groups and start searching for them, instead of trying as one group. Since it was a star hotel, there were plenty of storeys with several rooms and we went to all of them, but, in vain.
Without any other choice, we finally went with our teachers and notified the receptionists about the incident, who also volunteered to help us find our friends. A few of us went with some teachers to the neighbouring area which was a shopping stop and checked in every shop but there was no trace of them. We returned to the hotel in despair and saw our friends frantically rummaging around with the support of the receptionists. All of a sudden, one of our teachers Miss Brinda questioned us if we searched in the girls’ room. We told her that the room was locked and that there was no way that they could not be there since they were with us at the birthday party. Miss Brinda asked us if anyone saw them at the party and we answered in the affirmative in a chorus. She stressed the ones who saw them to answer individually and to our shock, nobody answered!
It was then that we realised that we had assumed that they were at the celebration without actually seeing them there. We rushed back to their room to find it locked and the receptionists told us that there was a problem in identifying if it’s locked from inside or outside, unless the ones who locked it knew, as it was a two-way door. We knocked fervently but there was no response at all. We grew more apprehensive and continued knocking when at last, after sometime, the two opened the door with sleepy and confused looks on both their faces.
After a long session of crying, shouting, hugging and beating, we learnt that the two had been comfortably sleeping while driving all of us into a state of fretfulness and fear for about three hours. Now, getting back to the tile of our story, we learnt some very early lessons through this incident. One was to never assume anything without actually knowing it for sure, as Miss Brinda’s questions taught us. The next was to rise above the situation when everyone else around us was disillusioned, just like Yamini. The third and most valuable lesson we learnt was team work as we could do more when we worked as a team rather than when we were one group. These lessons went on to help us in our future lives and careers and still do!
We also learnt that childhood and teenage are not to be taken lightly as most of life’s significant lessons are learnt during those beginning and formative stages. We also understood that that is why we should treat children as extremely perceptive learners who will cling to not only every word, but also every action, gesture and expression and live as great models for them to replicate!
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