The discussion this week was about fears that we have. It started with different children talking about their fears from snakes and creepy crawlies, to being uncomfortable in crowds, beating of parents and even singing in public. It was quite nice as the adults guided the discussions and at the same time participated and shared their fears e.g. Gauri (one of the teachers) talked about her fear of being in crowds. The interesting thing was that all the girls were talking but the two tech boys Balu and Senthil didn’t talk much at all. Senthil maintained that he had no fears at all and Balu would just say he didn’t know. I said that one is only afraid of the unknown and Maboo said that he was afraid about his future.
The discussion then moved to other kinds of fears like that of not being accepted by a group or not being able to say no. The fear of being ridiculed or ostracized by the groups they want to belong to. Most of the girls said it was not a big fear and that it had happened to them in the past but it worked out. Krishna also gave example of pressures from family when they decided to home school their kids. I spoke about the family pressures to visit them in my earlier trips to India when I visited projects instead.
Though this seemed somewhat of a natural extension of the talk quite honestly it was trying to bring at least one of the gentlemen in the technology course to talk about the various trouble they have always been getting into in the village with being part of the village boy gangs. This is one of the reasons that Tulir takes an effort to keep them occupied with activity almost throughout the day including closing up and sleeping there after they have dinner at home. I think this effort to work with troubled teenagers is very commendable and I am very hopeful that it will be successful.
We then spoke about fears that we had overcome and I talked about the entire centipede episode. The children were very curious to know how the bite felt J. The girl who was afraid of snakes mentioned that if there is a small snake she is not afraid anymore and just kills it.
Then the discussion shifted to a slightly different fear of “what people will think”. The discussion went from why few of the children wanted to pass X so as not to be thought of as dull. Anu asked if the children were worried of being made fun of when all of them went to the village and picked out the plastic to stop it from flowing through the stream to other villages. Most children didn’t have a problem. Someone asked Senthil and Balu if they were made fun of to which they responded that no one dare do that do them. Anu said that she herself was afraid of doing it a couple of yrs back when Tulir started with the fear that parents will not take it well and think that when they send their children to study here they are made to pick garbage.
The final part of the discussion was regarding whether fear is good or bad. The first suggestion was that fears are good. The girl mentioned how she is afraid of her parents and this makes sure that she behaves herself and doesn’t get into trouble with her. I asked her about the case of the fear of snakes. Does she think she is better off now that she is not afraid or before when she was? She replied that she was better off now. I responded that perhaps fear is being confused with respect or responsibility. Maboo pointed that fear of future seems important and it is making him work hard. If he works hard he will have a good future. I pointed out that it seems more of a cause and effect kind of relationship.
Anyway, the session ended with the mention of one of Krishnamurthy’s books on fear that is available at Tulir to read if anyone wanted to read and explore more.