My Journey at Rabtt – Zahra Ahmad

Most people would say that what difference Rabtt can produce in a single month of training; which is something I wrongfully used to believe once myself. I used to think that we are building an appetite in these kids to question things and express their thoughts. We instill the confidence in them to speak up their minds and then we go away. Of course, the follow-up workshops help but their complete academic system again suppresses them ultimately. And we have to start once again from the beginning, the next summer. I was also a part of Rabtt team last year and that’s something you’ll see very often that the students or fellows who have come here once would do it once again, that’s because Rabtt becomes a family to them.

I believe that every kid needs to know that there is something in him/her because what happens is that government school teachers don’t let them speak. They simply tell them this is the question and this is the answer, they don’t let them think. So I guess teachers need to make sure they have a connection with the students, this is one thing which I think is very important when you are going in a class. I try to make a connection with my students, because I think “we are not going as their teachers; we are going as their mentors.”

There are a lot of challenges if I only speak as a public instructor. When you come here, on your first day, nobody wants to debate. They are too frightened to speak-up because normally, they are not used to the idea of expressing their own opinions or even having their original opinions. They are not accustomed to giving their views or notions because they are most often bottled-up.

So it takes time. First of all you have to encourage them, tell them that they can do this, if they don’t want to speak they should at least come forward and stand here for a minute. A good deal of reassurance and lots of positive gestures are provided to break their stage anxiety.

These kids are very energetic so they get jaded soon, thus the last challenge is to keep the lectures interesting. So, I try to keep my lectures less mechanical and more discussion-based so that all kids get to speak. I listen to them earnestly and ask them a lot of questions.  Because public speaking is the kind of subject for which they don’t need to read a book or to cram anything. It’s like an everyday subject that they are exercising in their daily life and these girls; they love to speak. So, I just need to make sure that they speak right things, on the right time that is their content needs to be improved. I don’t want to be that teacher who writes on the board while everybody listens passively.

So far, progress has been amazing. I taught them public speaking last summer and I feel so fulfilled to see those old kids speaking like pro-public speakers, who didn’t spoke at all last year, they used to be so hesitant. Some kids are already self-reliant but others need to be pushed a little, Muqadas is one of them, last year she wasn’t keen to participate in any activity. She didn’t even used to come forward. I can see the improvement in her; now she has got the buoyancy to speak in public.

Rabtt is a multi-dimensional learning process, I’ve learnt just as much from my students as much they learn from me. First of all my patience and tolerance level has tremendously increased. Secondly, I’ve realized that everything can’t go according to you, you have to adjust. There will be complains from the kids and administration, who are coming here in this scorching heat and during the holidays.  Hence, they need an incentive to maintain their presence. Thus, I’ve learned to keep myself calm and composed under all circumstances.

I got so much more confident and affirmative since I first joined Rabtt. Rabtt has made me more adaptable to different environments and I’ve learnt how to interact with people from different backgrounds. But most importantly I’ve learnt to respect other point of views, there will be some people with opinions very contradictory to your opinions and some would be radically conservative, but you’ll have to communicate with them in a way that they won’t get offended. I’ve learnt how to talk to people with different views, before that I used to be much self-confessed speaker, not considering the other person’s concepts.

For me Rabtt is this bond which I’ve established with these kids and the fellows here. It is a magical connection that will stay with me forever. So, Rabtt is dear to me not just as an organization but as something that has reformed me utterly. Through Rabtt I got to know about my potential and self-worth. Now I know that I am capable of making a difference. I am able to alter a child’s conceptions and personality. Though these kids might apparently look non-serious but they attach so very quickly to you and give you so much respect and admiration that you never want to leave them.


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