My name is Vidisha Mahajan, I am a rising high school Senior, and I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I first got involved with Outreach360 during this summer (2020); I decided to partake in the Remote Internship for Nicaragua. COVID-19 gave me a lot of free time and I was looking for a way to put my spare time to use. My mom saw an advertisement about Outreach360 and I was immediately interested.
Education is a gift that not all children are fortunate enough to receive. It has always upset me to think that there are children who are not given opportunities that everyone should have. I do not think any child should be forced to choose between education and getting a job to support their family. I have always wanted to do something about this issue and I knew Outreach360 was the perfect organization, as they fight to see children realize their full potential. I also loved the idea of a cultural exchange. I was not only going to be teaching, but I would also be improving my Spanish and learning about leadership and social change. I have always wanted to build on my Spanish and what better way is there to improve than speaking with a native speaker? From the second I learned about this opportunity, I knew I wanted to get involved, but I had no idea what a huge impact it would have on me and the huge impact I would make on the children.
At first, I was really nervous and many thoughts filled my head. What if I can't communicate with the students because of the language barrier? What if I mess up or am not skilled enough to be teaching them? What if I'm not a good enough teacher? However, the second I joined the first Zoom call and learned about Outreach360, all my nerves disappeared. Outreach360 made me feel like I was in a safe environment. I immediately understood that no one is perfect and that the mistakes we make and the challenges we encounter help us grow as individuals. I found it so easy to express my views in the Leadership and Social Change program due to the secure environment that Outreach360 creates and provides and I learned so much from my peers and the leadership team. I was able to grow by learning about others' viewpoints and expressing my own.
I was intimidated by the Spanish lessons at first. It was the beginning of summer break and I felt like I had forgotten all my Spanish. But again, my nerves settled the second class began. Our Spanish teacher helped us realize that we are all learning a new language and that mistakes were inevitable; however, these mistakes help us grow as speakers and challenge us to step beyond our comfort zone. By taking the steps to learn a new language, we are expanding our cultural knowledge and growing as individuals. These Spanish lessons were so beneficial as I was able to improve my skills, but I also surprised myself as I was able to have a one-on-one conversation with a native speaker, a rare opportunity that most Spanish learners do not get. I love Outreach360's idea of cultural exchange.
I was able to learn so much while serving my global community and becoming a global citizen.
From my very first class, I became passionate about teaching and making sure each of my students succeeded. Every student was eager to be there and they all wanted to expand their knowledge. Their yearning for education and learning was unexpected and refreshing. As the days passed, the children became more comfortable and more engaged; they had a desire to succeed and grow. Their ambition inspired me. I wanted to make sure each activity was better than the last, and that they took something away from each lesson. I was able to create such a strong relationship with the students, something that I had not expected going into the internship. I made a special connection with each child and I know I will remember every one of them and the impact they had on me.
One thing I loved about Outreach360 was its flexibility with teaching. All the interns were provided with a plethora of resources and helpful teacher training. From there, we were able to create our own lesson plans, activities, and approaches on how to teach the children. I was able to explore my own creativity and think of fun activities that ensured the success of each student. The challenge helped me grow as an individual. I was forced to think on the spot: should I continue with the lesson or should I make up a spontaneous and more engaging activity? It helped me realize that not everything goes according to plan and helped me grow as a quick thinker.
Each student showed so much interest in the classroom and had the drive to learn; their interest sparked an interest for me and I have grown a greater passion for education. Previously, I had overlooked the importance of education because of frustrations with my rigorous coursework during the school year. However, seeing each child smiling with gratitude as they were given this opportunity has changed my viewpoint. Learning and knowledge are the quintessence of growth and success.
After Outreach360, I will always take away the most I can from education and I will also make sure I give back and maintain my position as a global citizen.
Being a part of Outreach360 has taught me the beauty of education and the importance of helping others flourish and reach their full potential while learning about other cultures and growing as an individual. As I go on, I will always remember what being a true leader means and all the memories I have experienced on this unforgettable journey on the pathway to knowledge.
For more information on Outreach360's virtual internships, please visit www.outreach360.org/virtualimpact.