It's almost the end of the year, and its around this time every year that I like to look back upon the year that has passed and reflect upon what I want to change for the future years to come. This year, I was incredibly lucky to intern with the Goal program from August to December in Delhi. It was without doubt the best part of my year, and probably one of the best couple of months I've had in my life! Before starting my internship, I had thought that the majority of my learning would happen in the office - learning the usual administrative skills etc... I can now confidently say I was completely wrong about that. I definitely learned plenty from the office, but the greatest lessons I learned were from the people I was lucky enough to meet in the last few months. These people include everyone from the amazing staff that puts their entire hearts into running Goal to, of course, the fantastic Goal girls themselves!
When I first started interacting with the girls, I thought it would be quite a challenge as we came from totally different backgrounds and there were many cultural differences. Instead, I found in the girls some of the most amazing, kindest, funniest girls, and now friends, that I've ever met. I was so surprised at how confident and friendly the girls were with everyone they met - much more than I've ever been when meeting someone for the first time! Just through staying with the girls, and watching them grow through the program - I found myself becoming so much stronger and self-confident. Hearing their stories, and the challenges they face from day to day - it was like a huge jolt to my brain in realization of just how lucky and fortunate I've been in my life. Some of the girls are the head of their household at 15, the amount of responsibilities they have at that age is heartbreaking and yet they come out twice a week with the greatest smiles to play and learn. I would find myself complaining sometimes when it took me more than an hour to get to work because of traffic etc... and then I would see the staff, some of who travel almost 3 hours six days a week to work (and never complain!) or the girls themselves who walk an hour just to attend the Goal sessions. At first I thought this courage, confidence, and generally fantastic attitude towards life might be an innate aspect of Indian culture. But as I stayed on and interacted with people outside the program, and even saw new girls being recruited to the program - I realized it was in large part due to Goal that these girls are growing into such amazing young women - and more importantly such fantastic human beings.
The tagline for Goal reads - Reaching New Heights. It's a lovely idea, but what does it actually mean? It's hard to fully understand and appreciate it till you see a girl - whose goal in life used to be to get married by 16. All of a sudden, this same girl, a couple of months later, says she now wants to study so she can become a teacher or a coach someday. And in front of your eyes you've just seen new heights being reached.
A huge thank you to everyone from Goal and to all reading this out there - Happy Holidays!!