Before reaching Allampalli, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from this internship. We were told the basics, looked through the outline of the curriculum, packed our clothes, and loaded the bus. The moment we arrived, the interns were greeted by students in the middle of the night, ready to help carry our bags and get settled. On the first day we were put on a pedestal, and the kids were told "these interns are from America and are here to help you learn new things." But the reality was, I didn’t even know what to expect and I hoped that I knew what I was talking about.
The next week or so, me and the interns were given the opportunity to meld ourselves into the community and everybody was unhesitant welcoming. I realized we were there for a greater purpose than just teaching and helping with academics, were there to become their friends, and occasionally play some interns vs Allampalli games. As the days went on, our connection with the students and fellow interns only grew stronger and more personal. I was teaching the 2nd grade class, and that day later in the evening, we would be visiting their villages farther away from the school. As we got to the thandas, I would see kids I recognized from class in the morning and it was surreal to see the looks on their faces when we recognized each other. One of the students I taught walked with me throughout the whole night, never letting go of my hand once. In this moment, I realized that appreciating the smallest gestures and things in life, are what can bring us true happiness. True happiness and contentment cannot be replaced by money or material possessions. After that day, the bugs in our rooms and the heat didn't matter as much as they did on the first day, and the Allampalli chai was the first thing we looked forward to in the mornings.
Back in America, we would fundraise, telling people “the money goes towards tribal kids in India, but I realized that isn't the only way to categorize the students in Allampalli. The perspective I was given about the kids had completely shifted already. As time passed we realized that we all already had one thing in common, we are all human. The students were equally as capable of teaching us, and to be honest, I learned more for them than I could possibly teach any of the kids. Watching the kids learn with more ambition than I have ever seen before was vitalizing. Reflecting back on my experience, I realized how we are all capable of the same things and it all depends on how you view your life, and what you decide to do with the adversity you face. The money we fundraise every year really does go towards an important cause, and this internship showed me exactly what service and volunteering for a greater cause really means.
The kids in Allampalli did not sulk about their lives, and only faced difficulties with the mindset that anything can be accomplished with hard work and determination. Our internship to Allampalli in 2022 was something that despite the efforts, cannot be truly described in words or pictures alone. One of the most rewarding aspects was the new perspective I was given the opportunity to experience and the people I got to meet.
By Nigama Reddy
Dallas Youth Volunteer
Reflection from Summer Internship 2022