Paths Untraveled: A Journey into Technical Mastery

The Hope Education Program in India is flourishing; as of June, 2024, there will be 42 students taking steps toward higher education. As Back2Back staff assess each student and come alongside to assist in big life transitions, they are asking one important question: what are you good at? 

“Zahir* has always struggled academically, but is immensely talented,” shared Santosh Kumar, Back2Back staff and Hope Education Program Captain. “Our goal is to ensure students pursue education and career paths that align with their giftings and ultimate success. I started asking students, as they prepare for the next step, what it is they’re good at, what brings them joy, and allowed their answers to help determine the next best choice for their futures.”  

Back2Back staff understand university is not always the best option for everyone, and as he asked the students, a theme emerged. Technical training was a natural next step for many of them. Zahir is just one of ten pursuing technical training; he is enrolled in a Technical Skills school, learning the basic technicality of machinery, how it works, and how it’s fixed. He was recently able to put his learning to the test when the community center’s printer stopped working. Using his classes and lessons from school, he was able to assess the printer and fix it! He is the first in his family who will not work as a rag picker; collecting remnants of trash and leftovers and selling for money will not be part of his narrative. His parents see great hope in this adventure for their son.

Six young women who recently completed their final exams all passed and four of them will be attending vocational schools. Traditionally, students are expected to attend university in pursuit of degrees in education, medicine, and finance. Staff are excited for these opportunities the students are choosing, and it’s an opportunity for parents to better understand a vocational choice is not “less than” a university route.  

“The young men and women we serve are taking steps no one else in their families have taken,” explained Santosh. “They are first time graduates, they can read and write well, and they can be successful and contribute to future families with vocational skills. Our hope is this new wave of Hope Education students will see careers as beauticians, lab workers, technicians, and more. We simply want them to choose paths that suit them well, not what they believe they should choose.”

Slowly, families and students alike are understanding their contributions will be just as important to their families as those of university graduates. For many students in India, if they struggle academically, they’re told they won’t succeed and won’t ever reach full independence. Santosh and other staff are faithful to remind them of their own potential, and encourage students to set new tones for their families and the generations to come.

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