I wish I could say its been a divine experience that gave me a purpose in my life, etc. but its not. Its much more real than that. The biggest thing I felt in this entire program was that you have this huge, huge responsibility on your shoulders and you cannot escape it or just let it be. You have to actively work to fulfill that role that you chose and you can't back down. That right there changes you in tiny ways that you'll notice only when you're done with the program.
I have 5 beautiful girls to mentor. One of them is a total diva and I love her confidence and enthusiasm. Yes, she's bossy and tries to dominate the other kids but that's where I step in with my *pops collar* veto power.
The other girl with her is her best friend. She's fun and friendly and loves to connect with different people. She tries to find common ground with almost everyone she meets. But Diva loves the limelight and sometimes the BFF is shoved to the side. Friend/ peer dynamics in action.
The third girl is tiny and sweet. She doesn't talk much but she smiles a lot. She's soft spoken and appears to be a pushover but she isn't... not really. She thinks and over thinks and makes up entire scenarios in her head.
The fourth girl is quiet and even more shy. She speaks only when spoken to. She's intimidated easily and is the epitome of the perfect obedient young lady. She likes it that way so I guess I can't really encourage her to stray away too much from that shell. But plus point - she's started speaking up voluntarily and some of her ideas are very well thought out for a young girl with little exposure.
The fifth girl. The most fascinating as far as I know. She needs to be forced to speak. She will not otherwise. She is crushingly shy and eye contact for her is a form of rebellion which she doesn't really engage in. She's serious and humor isn't something she understands. This girl has held my attention ever since the first Saturday I met her. She wants to do something great and noticeable in the world. In her own words: "Meine Arfa Karim jaisa kuch karna hai. Lekin mujhe abhi nahi pata ke wo cheez kya hai." I think she has a depth to her that has yet to be tapped.
They all have great hair (and I'm seriously envious). They are brilliant actors and perform any role play I give them with spot on dialogues and behavior that they make up on the spot. I love seeing them interacting among themselves and other people in the program. I don't know if they've changed me. I don't know if I'm changing them in any way. What I do know is that this will be something both of us remember for the rest of our entire lives. I wouldn't have given this up for the world. Like I said, its not a divine experience but its something that I still don't have a word for.
This is not something you do only once. Here's hoping we all get more chances to actually understand the purpose and then start making those expected changes: within the kids as well as ourselves.