I still have fresh memories of my first day with AAM Foundation;  it was a beautiful morning of March 19, 2013. An immeasurable zeal had enveloped me, because this was not only my first job, but more importantly the thing which I had always wanted to soak myself in.

I was welcomed by my evening facilitaor, Ms. Pooja Dutt Sharma, in such a warm manner that I had instantly developed a great rapport with her. She explained me everything meticulously leaving no room for any doubt. So, there I was;  standing in my Pandav Nagar center, eagerly waiting for my students to join me – immensely excited, and yet, a bit nervous.

Of course, the first day brought its own share of opportunities, wherein I had to interact with all new faces.


I majorly utilized it by initiating casual conversations with them in order to break the ice, thereby exchanging a few genuine smiles. Moreover, I soon realized, that one attribute which bound all of them together, regardless of their age or gender, was the thirst to excel in their lives. At the same time, they also had an awareness that learning the English language could brighten this desire multifold.

With the passage of time, my bond with them has become as poetic as ever.

There have been numerous instances which have massively inspired me, but whenever I enroll any female student in the Free English Classes, it makes my heart swell with pride. Out of all my female students, there are three mothers, who all are in different phases of their lives, but, what unites them is that all of them are incredible multi-taskers. They are superwomen in my eyes !! They might appear quite ordinary to a lot of people, but, if we would glance through their tight schedule, then, it would take no time for us to understand that it takes a lot of will power, intelligence, and positive attitude to come out of their shell and learn something new!

The association with my students may just have been for 3 months now, but I feel that they have left an indelible mark on my senses. They have showered so much love on me, taught me so many countless things, that I often get very emotional about my relationship with them. I can honestly vouch for it  that they are not the only ones who have been guided by me. I am equally privileged to gather beautiful experiences of life from them.

In the end, I would like to contribute a quote by my favorite poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī:

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the mighty ocean in the drop.”

I firmly feel, that all my students are gems in their own way and if we keep working on this project, their finesse would know no limits. :)

Disha Kalia
Morning Facilitator, Pandav Nagar.


At first first glance this tricycle might seem disconnected from the title of the post. Considering the caption, one would prefer to see the picture of a Tiger, which would be even more misleading for a post about an organization which solely works for the benefit of underserved people providing Free English Classes (FEC) at over 40 locations in Delhi / NCR.

Although AAM Foundation has been running the FEC program since June 1999, my association with this organization has been for the better part of seven months. Being one of the many foot soldiers of the organisation, I am quite au courant about action at grass root level. Due to the nature of my job, I am mostly in the field, visiting all the centers, meeting interesting self driven students, different in every other way but similar in their desire to learn English. My role is to make learning fun at the centers. I am the host of the Jeopardy quiz – an in-class adaptation of the longest playing game show in the US by the same name.

As our English programme is completely gratis, the primary reason for students coming in day after day, is an intrinsic motivation to learn how to speak English. I see my job as being critically important in enhancing the desire of students to learn English by creating an environment that is casual, relaxed and fun filled; while at the same time conducive for learning and communicating in English.

Seven months ago, before I joined AAM Foundation, it was difficult for me to navigate the by lanes of my neighborhood in South Delhi but today I am a confident GPS with an in-built compass for locating far-flung, unheard-of places in NCR.

Due to the nature of my interactions with the students, I am also more emotionally involved with the pace and progress of our students. On April 27, During my visit to our FEC center at Tigri (a colony in South Delhi next to Sangam Vihar and Devli, erstwhile dumping zones of garbage, but which boasts of the maximum number of students enthused for learning enrolled in our 6 centers in this region) a differently abled young man, aged 21, ambled into the class. He came on a tricycle along with his sister (who came on foot) and his demeanor kept my mind engrossed for the longest time on how with self determination and passion an individual could do wonders. In my mind, I instantly named him the ‘Tiger of Tigri’. He invigorated a sense of belief and enthusiasm in me, about achieving one’s goal irrespective of who we are and whatever our individual challenges may be, giving this story universal relevance. What struck me most about this young man, was his extraordinary thoroughness in his lessons preparation and pertinacity to learn. When Ratan Tata said, “All of us don’t have equal talents. Yet all of us have equal opportunity to develop our talents’’ I believe he was talking of people like my Tiger of Tigri.

I am not trying to garner pity or compassion for this remarkable boy, and for some this must be a dull rendition of the least oral herpes transmission interesting story, but inspirations come in the most unpredictable forms. Rain or shine, we, as soldiers tread the harshest of weather to keep doing what we do and very often our faces light up with colossal smiles that are the result of having heard a word/sentence well spoken and due to the progress made by these young lotuses in the pond. Their achievements make our small individual endeavors, significant.

I hope to meet many more Tigers in my journey with AAM Foundation and get inspired to put in my best to excel in my endeavors.

Avantika Haflongbar
Jeopardy Coordinator
AAM Foundation