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Phalasha Nagpal
Last updated 1 Dec 2016 . 7 min read

What Happens When A 24-yr Old Girl Quits A Cushy MNC Job To Serve The Society


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Feeling stuck in the daily hustle and bustle, despite of having luxuries at our disposal, is a common phenomenon among the youth nowadays. But there’re some who break from the routine and take charge of their lives to extract more from it. This story can also be yours or mine.

A 24 yr old, working as an Audit Assistant at Deloitte, one day suddenly decides to quit her job, and the next thing she wants, is to devote her life to teach the underprivileged children. To put her own dreams on hold, to bring a child, one step closer to achieving theirs. What triggered a young, aspiring girl’s mind to take such a drastic yet selfless decision?

What inspired you to make the big transition from a high paying MNC job to teaching the underprivileged?

I actually have an interesting story to tell you how this happened. The corporate job as an Audit Assistant at Deloitte had become very monotonous, and I wanted to pursue my MBA so that I could go for a change in field. So I quit my job to study for my CAT exams. Alongside, I began volunteering at Teach For India (TFI). I have always loved kids and it would've been a great thing to do, and I had always wanted to contribute. The first day when I volunteered, I had to read the story of Hellen Keller in class. The kids were told to introspect about the struggles of a girl who had been deaf and blind, since birth. The next day, a student came up to me, tied a handkerchief over my eyes and told me to feel a piece of paper that she was carrying. With difficulty, I figured that she had spelt my name with tiny holes using a toothpick. It was her novel idea to aid a blind girl to read, without even knowing that this was actually how it was done. This incident truly touched my heart. “I realised the immense potential that these children have and the need for someone to discover it in them and channel it in the right direction.” That is the day, I decided to take up TFI as a full time job. I wanted to be that medium to make a difference.

What’s the difference in job satisfaction at both the places?

I mean, of course, life at Deloitte was way simpler, routinely and high paying with a promise of a great future, had I stayed on, just like any other MNC. The satisfaction of being able to instil confidence in a child, to stand up and speak in front of the entire class or helping an otherwise slow learner, to crack a Math problem due to your effort, is what keeps me going. Knowing that I can and I am, making a difference in another human being’s life, is truly unmatchable.

Would you say that this decision has changed you on a personal level?

Yes, I see little changes in myself everyday. After interacting with these children, all my biases and prejudices have slowly faded away. As a person, I have also grown to realise that there are so many things beyond ourselves, that need our attention. I have learnt that the more fortunate people like us, live in a bubble, oblivious of the ground reality, affecting millions, like poverty, disease, illiteracy, hunger and domestic violence, to name a few. Failing to understand, that it is upon us, to make a difference.

What are the struggles you face on a daily basis?

Apart from the various challenges that you face, you need to understand that it is a job that doesn't give you any recognition as such. This kind of work is meant for the self motivated individuals who feed on the satisfaction, that they in fact are making a difference. I mean, the only way one can survive serving the underprivileged, is by being selfless and giving. And I must say that it is mentally tiring to see such suffering in different forms everyday. You need to be prepared to hear about problems that you didn't even know existed. 

Besides, you need to be very aware of what you say, what you do and how you do it. These young children have impressionable minds and they pick on everything like a sponge. So it requires a lot of mindfulness, along with preparation on teaching methods and body language before you can actually teach them. 

Honestly, I do lose my patience at times because it becomes overwhelming to be so mindful and careful all the time. But at the end of the day I feel, as tough as it may be, if I won’t, then who will? And that keeps me going.

Does low monetary incentive in serving the society act as a source of frustration or regret for you at any point?

On my low days, obviously I do sit and wonder what if I had never quit? But that thought is often shunned away by the sense of satisfaction and empowerment I feel, working at TFI. Honestly speaking, the low monetary incentives don't matter anymore. I am fortunate enough to be born and brought up in a family that can financially support me, providing me a window to follow my dreams. In fact, the only thing that frustrates me most is the feeling that there is still so much more that I can do. As a teacher on a low payroll, I still have certain restrictions, in terms of the beyond classroom experiences that I would like my students to have. But time constraints and limited funding, allow me to do only so much.

Is your family supportive of your decision?

Well, that is a sensitive issue at home. My parents aren’t quite happy with me quitting such a high paying job at Deloitte. For a while, there was  even a sort of a cold war at home. But things are slowly getting better, or at least I’d like to believe so. My family has started seeing how happy I am, working for TFI. I feel that they have started to come in terms with it and deep down, I hope that one day they may understand and truly accept my decision.

What is one motto or mantra that keeps you going?

“Dr Seuss’s Oh, the Places You'll Go! , is a poem extremely close to my heart. It is what keeps me motivated to keep working hard and investing myself each day, every day to make a difference.” Except, instead of myself, I envision that these children that I teach and mentor, have places to go, and I consider myself fortunate to be the one to nudge them a little further in that direction and act as a medium to help them fulfil their dreams.

 
 

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Phalasha Nagpal
Phalasha Nagpal, born and brought up in Delhi, she worked in the field of audit for a while ( where she didn’t quite fit in), then she went on to pursue her MSc. Finance and Economics from the U.K.( where she didn’t quite fit in either ), and finally she started pursuing her unapologetic love and passion for writing ( where, she finally feels like she fits in)

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