The world is a confusing place. Some people are nice, but many are not. When someone hurts you, you can’t show them you’re afraid. There are many instances when I have come face to face with such problems. People have bullied me and put me down, but my friends, family, and teachers have always been by my side, guiding me to become an independent protagonist. At school and at home, I have been taught to ignore what people say about me and to just be myself. I have learned a great deal from my upbringing, and will value those lessons forever.
My school, Riverside, has had a great influence on me. It has shown me the world and the people in it — some keeping it together, some tearing it apart. I have attended Riverside since I was four years old, and its practices have taught me what it is to be a true leader, a protagonist. It has given me the power to believe in myself and have confidence in my own capabilities. The way I have been brought up in my school has made me a superhero by showing me that I can, in Gandhi's words, "be the change" and help people, no matter my age.
Riverside is getting me ready for the world — the sorrows and losses I may face, the disappointment I may be to people, the friends who may break my trust. I know not give up on myself. In times of sadness and change, I have learned not to let the anger get to me, and to just think. If I stop and think for a moment, letting the problem get into my head and weave its way around my brain, I can understand and solve it. When I know something is wrong, I won’t just ignore the problem, but think of ways to make it better. Once, in class, my friends were fighting amongst one another. Even though I wasn’t part of it, I tried to resolve it and make them see reason. I could have backed away, as it was not my fight, but I chose to add value.
My school, since the very beginning, has given me the opportunity to explore my surroundings and shown me what freedom tastes like. As I grew up, I understood that not everyone has that freedom to do what they like. By practicing “FIDS” — Feel, Imagine, Do, and Share — I became more aware of people like this. FIDS is a process for empathizing with others. By stepping into their shoes, I feel what they feel, try to imagine how I can help, put the idea into action, and then share about the surplus I added to the community to make people aware. This practice has helped me show gratitude for what I have. Whenever I feel like I am taking my life for granted, I think about people less fortunate than I am.
Riverside has also helped me think more deeply about problems like climate change and human rights. My school has even gone on to empower us to make our own contributions to improve these matters. In grade five, my class went through an aggarbati [incense stick] experience, in order to understand the concept of children’s rights and how they are abused. One way people treat children unfairly is by forcing them to work in factories all day long for very little income. My classmates and I spent three days in a big black tent, rolling aggarbatis. Our idea was to help underserved children by selling our aggarbatis and using the money to buy tickets for the kids to go to a garba [Indian dance] celebration so they could have fun. We shared this process with our school and society.
By helping now, we can make a big difference in the world later. My school says that every child has the passion to lead the world and make it a better place.
My parents have also played a big role in my journey of growing up. From wiping my tears to giving me strength when I am feeling low, they have helped me become independent and confident. Even learning to walk was due to their encouragement and confidence that I could stand on my own feet. When I was angry or frustrated, they gave me reasons why I shouldn’t be and made me look on the bright side. They taught me to talk to somebody and share my feelings when I am down.
My parents have always said I have all their love and support, and that really helps me to look on the bright side whenever I have a problem. When I came home complaining about the amount of work given at school, they were enthusiastic to help me clear my thoughts and focus on the work, which turned out to be pretty easy after all.
My father always tells me to forgive and forget, because letting go of the problem and not lingering on it will help me move past it. We fought once and my dad said sorry, but I kept persisting on the matter. He later explained that dwelling on a problem only makes one angrier, so accepting the apology is best.
When I am struggling, I share my feelings — sometimes with a friend, sometimes with one of my parents, sometimes with a teacher. Whatever it is, the issue is soon sorted out, and gradually, I have learned to figure out my own problems.
My parents and teachers have brought me up in such a way that I always have faith in myself and know to do the right thing. They have made me what I am today. They have taught me to learn from my mistakes, to be the change I want to see, and most of all, to believe that I CAN — I can take ownership, I can help the world, I can be a leader, I can be the change.
Nargis Kachrumathur is 11 years old. She is in grade 7 at Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India. Nargis loves reading, soccer, badminton, basketball, waveboarding, swimming, and theater arts (especially drama).
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