By Sheila Masih | Opening Doorz Editorial | February 11, 2022
DBL Diamond Jubilee Celebrations
Being a student at Don Bosco Lonavala, taught me to have faith in myself, that no matter what life brings my way, I have the confidence to handle it with grace.
Confidence is what I gained in my two years at Don Bosco Lonavala. And when I think of those wonderful years, this iconic song from the movie Sound of Music comes to my mind:
“So let them bring on all their problems
I’ll do better than my best
I have confidence
They’ll put me to the test
But I’ll make them see
I have confidence in me…”
As a child, I was very shy, but, the caring attitude of the Brothers, Priests and teachers, made me feel seen. I got a feeling that I exist; that I am more than just a shy girl hiding at the back of the line because I was too nervous to be myself. I went on to fall in love with being on stage and playing sports. Never would I have imagined being so confident had it not been for the holistic environment at Don Bosco’s.
Bro Glenford Lowe, my inspiration
Looking back, I realize that I took up teaching as a profession and excelled in it only because I was inspired by Bro Glenford Lowe. Today, we all know him as Fr Glenford Lowe who always made us ‘step’ into his shoes and teach ‘Economics’ in the classroom. Standing up in front of my peers, trying to teach a lesson from the subject, is what helped boost my confidence level as a person.
Today, I can confidently stand in front of a crowd and speak without hesitation. While most leaders create followers, a young Bro Glenford Lowe was busy creating leaders!
Another helpful tool that Bro Glenn taught us was the ‘Graphic Organizer’. He would prepare these graphic organizers, where the entire chapter would be summarized on a single sheet of paper. My learning and true understanding of the subject came from these graphic organizers. I still use this tool while teaching my students.
Fr Olympio D’Mello: Friend, Teacher and Mentor
Not enough can be said about Fr Olympio D’Mello. Of course, today he is no more a Priest. Happily married and settled in California with Angie, I am still friends with Oly, as he was known then and even now.
Oly was someone I could speak to without fear or hesitation and trust that I would not be judged in the process. He was a friend, teacher and mentor all rolled into one. He took interest in the lives of all his students and also made sure to connect with their family members as well. Oly was like family to me. Before getting married, I went to meet and introduce him to my would-be husband, James.
Those who know Oly will agree that he was a buddy on the playground, but in the school building, as a principal, he was disciplined and firm. He balanced the two roles with perfection. Keeping in touch with Oly makes me feel good. He is as humble and kind as he used to be when I was a student.
Two years, memories of a lifetime
I can still feel the air of Don Bosco Lonavala around me as I pen this article. Two years flew by so quickly, but the memories have lasted a lifetime. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful institution. After getting married we settled in Delhi. I joined Montfort School Delhi as a Kindergarten teacher. Seven years later, I was put in charge of the Playschool where I served as headmistress for 15 years. There was a calling for a long time to do something with my teaching talent for the underprivileged. I got an opportunity and so left my job in 2018, and I am working now with the children who live in a nearby slum.
We teach our children English, Maths and Hindi. We try our level best to serve them nutritious foods. Games and art are some of their favourites. Sadly, due to this pandemic, we cannot go to the park so those who have a smartphone at home are connected online.
I’ll end with this little poem I wrote that encapsulates what I feel of Don Bosco, Lonavala, for its Diamond Jubilee year.
Long, long ago on a pretty little hilltop,
In the beautiful town of Lonavala,
Stood tall a magnificent building,
It was truly magical
With huge playgrounds and a lot of bubbling
Children, well the semi-adults,
Were in the classrooms and all over the place,
Each one creating their story,
And gathering priceless memories
I too made a little treasure box,
Filled with wonderful and touching memories,
Be it running races at the playground or running to the Chapel
The excitement of it all, I hold to this day.
The stage was my dreamland,
I’d live and get lost into,
Being in the classroom was a pleasure,
But outside those walls, is where I’d thrive the most
I must stop here,
The Saga of endless memories continues…
It was life at Don Bosco Lonavala,
That made me who I am today
Thank you, Don Bosco!
Sheila Mendez (then) studied Arts from 1983 to 1985.
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Also Read: Thank you for everything Don Bosco Lonavala