I am Sasha Ismail. I am an unschooled, 12 year old boy who was born and raised in South Africa. I started out going to school for three years, and then my mother told me about unschooling. I was so excited. This meant that I did not have to do any work. I decided to switch, because I could be free. I did not have to be in the system, and also, the best part is, I can learn whatever and whenever I want to. When I started to unschool, my mother was running a clothing exhibition business at various malls in South Arica, and every day I had to go to work with her. I learned everything about my mother’s business: how to set up; how to do the stock take; how to cash up and even how to deal with customers. Just as the saying goes ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’.
The clothing my mother sold was all manufactured in India, so twice a year we would go to India to get stock. Now, after two years of seeing it all happen in front of me, I could probably run that entire business. My mother and I then decided to close the clothing business and move to India, to the town my father came from called ‘Pushkar’. So we sold and gave away everything in South Africa and in April 2016, we moved to India.
The hardest part for me was leaving all my friends and family behind, since the thing I find hardest about unschooling is making friends. In South Africa there was a community of unschoolers, but in Pushkar no one has even heard of it. During my unschooling years I had travelled a lot to India and to Australia where my father lives, so it was a normal feeling going back to Pushkar. The main reason I wanted to move to India was that I had freedom, freedom to walk in the streets by myself. Growing up in South Africa, I was scared walking two blocks alone, but in Pushkar I could walk for kilometers by myself. My father’s entire family lives in Pushkar. Only my father lives in Australia with my half brother and sister and my step mom. We knew Pushkar, so it was not hard to adapt to everything. My mother used to give me shopping lists to do and I used to go on my rusty old bicycle into the center of this little village. I knew all the prices per kilo for each vegetable and how much you should pay for a kilo of sugar; it was fun doing the shopping for home.
The town of Pushkar is built around a lake. According to the Hindu story (which I wrote an essay on), the Pushkar lake is one of three lakes that long ago were formed from the petals of the sacred lotus flower that Brahma had used to slay the demon Vajranabha. Pushkar also has the only Brahman temple in India; therefore Pushkar is a pilgrim site. Pushkar is known to have the biggest camel fair which is normally held in November. The fair lasts for a whole week. More than eighty thousand people come to Pushkar for that week. There is a funfair and more than twenty thousand camels and horses come to town. Pushkar before the fair is a completely different town. The fair was lots of fun and very exciting as Prem Joshua (one of my favourite musicians), played live on the fair grounds. I can not imagine how I would be able to see him perform live and do all these other exciting and fun stuff if I had stayed in school.
We moved houses a few times in Pushkar. Once we lived opposite a wedding venue. It was amazing, but LOUD. If you have ever been to an Indian wedding, you would know what I am talking about. For two nights straight there’s BANG BOOM BANG, with fireworks and music. It was hectic.
Around the corner from that house there was a jeweler who offered me some lessons on being a silversmith. I used to sit next to him and make some silver jewelry. It was lots of fun and my mother got all the pieces of jewelry I made, so she was happy too. I also attended some Hindi classes in Pushkar, so I now speak broken Hindi. I got stuck into making other jewelry too. I learned how to make micro macramé bracelets and necklaces. Another thing I did in Pushkar, was attend a once week Ayurvedic massage course. Also, on the Pushkar lake, there is a guy that does drumming everyday at sunset for free! So almost every day I used to go for an hour of drumming. It was a very magical thing. Riding around on my bicycle gave me an understanding of how people drive in India, which is very different to how people drive in the west.
My best friend in Pushkar is my cousin Chhavi, who lives with my grandmother (I call my grandmother, Daadi, the Indian word for father’s mother). So at least twice a week I would go on my bicycle or sometimes walk to my Daadi’s house to see Chhavi. Both my grandmothers are the best Indian cooks I know! So what I would do is eat lunch at my house and then quickly ride to my Daadi’s house to have a second lunch!
At the beginning of 2017, my mother and I went to Goa, a beach paradise on the south side of India. It was so amazing. We would go down to the beach to swim while watching the sun drop into the ocean. On this holiday we thought about moving to Goa. The choice was: desert VS ocean, so it was not very hard to decide. Within three weeks we moved to paradise! We now live one kilometer away from the beach.
Ever since I was small, even before I started unschooling, I wanted to join a dojo. We looked around in South Africa but I never actually got to do it, but now here in Goa, there is a dojo literally one hundred meters away from my house. I AM LEARNING KARATE!!!!!!!!!!! We have now been in Goa for four months. If I were to be going to school now, I would probably still be sitting in a classroom in South Africa and not being able to go on holiday, never mind moving to a foreign country. Since I now do karate and joined a chess club, I have a way to socialize with people, so I am making lots of friends.
Currently the best part for me about unschooling is that I can learn coding; I am learning Java Script, HTML and CSS. I am making games from scratch all using code and code alone.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Everyone tells me I am a good writer even though I don’t think I am that great. Anyway, if you are looking to unschool I highly suggest you do. It has worked for me and many others. Hope you have a nice day and join the unschooling community in your area. Thanks and bye!!