By Jonah Travis
Observations made throughout my time here, along with challenges and solutions to apparent problems facing Crossover:
- The meaning of “Free” is ambiguous: To many of us back in the states the only time we are skeptical of the word “Free” is when we see it on television or when telemarketers use it and then proceed to ask for your credit card information. Within Indian business the word Free enters in a different realm of skepticism that I would never have imagined it taking. Crossover has struggled to address the skepticism found when explaining about a free for all participant’s camp. To many people we have dealt with, the word “Free” signals to them something without value. To many administrators and people we have spoken with – they view value if something is worth acquiring, is something worth working and spending money on. A common question we’ve had to address is if the kids do not pay, how are they supposed to value it? This problem we face is not exactly intuitive with our American mindset but if you break it down it makes logical sense and it is one that Crossover will have to answer in order to further the expansion of the program.
The kids absorb much more than we give them credit for: One of the most amazing things about coming here is the feedback I get from kids about almost every interaction I have with them. I am often left wondering, due to the palpable language barrier and the adolescent attention span, is there any retention of my words or are they simply going from one ear and out the other? Time and time again I am proven wrong. I am approached numerous times throughout the day to converse about what I told them about earlier that day or maybe even the day before. It is amazing how often I am asked to explain even the most extraneous detail, even though not relevant to the point, it still displays a complete and prodigious comprehension of what is being said to them. The challenge for Crossover will be how to make our message as clear and concise as possible so that we do not leave them wondering about something other than the topic at hand. This may seem like an easy task but when every comment and every word is being pondered for hours, the task becomes a little more difficult than we might expect.
- The TFI (Teach For India) teachers are absolute Saints: It is amazing to me how, without fail, I can have lost almost complete control of a group and the TFI teacher whose class is within my session at the time can utter a few phrases in Tamil and their students all of a sudden become the most well behaved young citizens of India I’ve ever seen. It is truly amazing. Almost each of their kids operates with enough energy to put any college student, narcotized on Red Bull and coffee, to shame. Collectively the task is comparable to trying to catch twenty Super Balls simultaneously while they’re still bouncing around. Somehow these teachers have been able to harness their energy into enthusiasm for whatever has been placed in front of their kids. Whether
this technique happens in the classroom, in the field, or on the court, the indisputable improvement from day to day speaks for itself. Our goal should be to take as much from them as possible. Due to a desired continuance and expansion of the TFI programs role in the Crossover Academy, it would only be plausible to learn as much as we can from them so that we may help not only the TFI kids we are coaching, but others as well.