The Girl Who Was Almost Left Behind – Lesson on Practice and Perseverance

Is it possible for someone to make compounded leaps in basic learning? I recently came across a heart rendering tale of perseverance and what a strong will can achieve in a short time. This is the story of an orphan girl who changed her life and what we can learn from it.

I recently made a trip to my hometown, Nagpur and as is customary on Diwali went to meet my relatives. I pull into my Aunt’s house as the sun was setting and saw her tutoring a teenage girl who clearly was not from our family.  They were engrossed in English lessons and I could see a pile of workbooks next to them. As the lesson wound up, my Aunt who has been a professor in Botany and retired a vice principal of a local college started telling us about the girl. Turns out that she is living with my aunt since her grandmother who was taking care of her passed away and her parents have been dead for years. She used to go to school but had almost decided to drop out as she couldn’t afford it and despite being in 5th standard could barely read or write. She now goes to school in the morning and helps my Aunt with light housework in the evenings and stays with them. The biggest challenge however was to keep the girl in school and get her up to speed at her age level.

My Aunt started with a strict regimen, they both get up at 5am and work through the lessons for couple of hours and then again go through a 3-hour session in the evening. They started with English, Math and now are now working on Science subjects; I was amazed to see the progress that the girl has made. Her workbooks were filled with copious notes and now after a year of intensive coaching she has not only passed her current grade but has been promoted to a higher grade. This girl who could barely understand basic Math is now the highest scorer in her 7th standard class of 50 students. It has boosted her confidence to further her educational aspirations.

So why did this transformation happen? How can this be applied to countless others who struggle against odds to achieve goals that may seem insurmountable to an outsider? The answer I think lies in sheer perseverance and practice.  My Aunt recounted that on so many occasions they both almost gave up, even the school principal thought that it was a fools quest, the girl wouldn’t make it. But the girl practiced endlessly, day after day, hour after hour, she filled hundreds of workbooks. My aunt motivated her with a vision of a better life, an educated and independent future.

As I look back to the smile on the girl’s face when we left my Aunt’s house that day, it fills me with a sense of awe at what can be achieved if we put our hearts to it. Startups at the GSF Accelerator are now preparing for their big demo day, GSF 2012 Conference, we have no doubts that each one of them has the potential to become billion dollar businesses in the next few years. Though we must remember as individuals, that with practice and perseverance, we have the power to change the improbable to the inevitable.


Brij Bhasin

Brij Bhasin

Brij has somehow managed to live most of his life in either one of the hottest (Nagpur, India) or the coldest (Minnesota, USA) place in world before finally landing up in Bangalore. Software geek by training and a product startup guy by choice, he has loved working on early stage ideas, sculpting them to finished products and taking them to market over the past 10 years. While he never thought he would end up on the other side of the table, he is currently having a ball helping startups at the GSF Accelerator. He likes reading and recently devoured the entire Game of Thrones series books, but also has a special corner for non-fiction. Follow his tweets @brijbhasin