Monday, December 24, 2018

Inspirational Story

Youth Alliance

Leadership program by YA with Manzil

Every year, 3.5 million people graduate in India with only a few having employable skills. Even in the best colleges of our country, one studies electrical engineering for four
years, and then an information technology company recruits you to do coding! Where’s the logic in that? Our society today is in a crazy race towards ‘success’, without a proper understanding of what really defines success.

Youth Alliance takes youngsters on intensive journeys through programs like “Gramya Manthan”- a 10-day rural immersion program in the villages near Kanpur and Ahmedabad where they experience how 60% of India lives. In this journey, they interact and engage with different communities, realize their privileges. Experiencing village life peels off their urban plaster and perspective. Today, sitting in cities like Delhi we read about the villages of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar etc. without understanding what lies beyond our computer screens and the privileges that we enjoy. However, when the same 19-year old who once sat behind a screen, just virtually reading about village life, now witnesses an old person suffering from the curable blindness caused by cataract, whose treatment cost is equivalent to Rs 2500 or that a woman has to go to the toilet at night or early morning in the dark outside because there is no toilet, they begin to question where our country is lacking even after 67 years of Independence and their role in changing the scenario.

A young heart which once goes through such experiences becomes more conscious of choices made and their impact. Youth Alliance keeps personal transformation at-the-center, learning through social action as the key to problem-solving, and empathetic leadership as a solution to India’s myriad challenges. We build the longing to work towards change by making the youth use their head, heart, and hand through service learning projects in villages which deal with education, personal hygiene and sanitation to alcoholism. 

Through these experiences, the youngster starts looking beyond the obvious and gains confidence to act for a cause thus making their voice heard. They also build openness to learning while unlearning their rigidity. These elements empower the youth to be sensitive and expand their isolative mindset as they begin to see a whole community as theirs and emerge as an ethical leader, who is required in our country today. Our focus on building a community that believes in the values of empathy and service is immense. It is important to comprehend how change begins with-in and we need to change ourselves first to change the world outside.

Youth Alliance’s immersive programs have helped invest 600+ youngsters in acts of nation-building by kindling empathy for the communities and the issues surrounding them.

From Manzil, this year, Tulsi, Vandana, and Pushpa were part of Gramya Mantah and Vikas of Earth-Shastra which became an experience of deep transformation and self-exploration and brought them closer to understanding their own self and connecting to their work with a perspective of empathy and love. Here are their experiences:

Tulsi: “Gramya Manthan was a transformative journey in my life. I came to know various facts about my own self. The people I met were so inspirational that I really wanted to listen to them talk all day long. I discovered myself and learned to think positively. When we shared our emotions and feeling with the teammates and with the core members of Youth Alliance, I understood the importance of sharing which is a great part for building trust. When I was with the villagers, their love, care, simplicity, and innocence made me realize about the beauty of humans and the importance of mankind. Living with the villagers I noticed how they successfully find happiness in small things and live happily with it. Sometimes you know the philosophy of life but you don’t implement it. Through the journey of Gramya Manthan, I learned to live by that philosophy practically.  When I reached there for the very first time I was nervous regarding the kind of people I would meet and what would happen if they thought negatively about me. But on meeting them I realized that all the people are actually the same. Their education, their religion, language, lifestyle etc. could be different but one thing is common in them and that is a heart. We all have a similar heart, similar emotions, and similar life stories. All we need is to understand people through love. I felt as if I had known these people all along. These life lessons have really helps me work more efficiently as a part of Manzil’s core team.”

Vandana:It is really difficult to express in words about my wonderful experience of Gramya Manthan. I am fortunate because I got this opportunity. The program is based on rural immersion and self-reflection. In Gramya Manthan I got the space where I was able to empathize with others. There was no judgment and I learned how I can simply listen to someone without any suggestions and advice. People were very openhearted, welcoming, interesting to know each other and helpful.  I got an environment where I didn’t have any tension, social networking connection, and no judgment.  It was so much learning in each and every moment. I was happy and smiling which made me a new Vandana. The best part of my experience was when we went to an unknown village to know the villagers and their challenges. I was surprised to receive such a warm welcome from the villagers. They showered me unconditional love which was totally unexpected. I had never seen people live so happily with very limited resources. My learnings through Gramya Manthan are helping me in Manzil, where I am working with students and am now able to understand them through empathy."

Pushpa Gupta: "I remember the very first day of Gramya Manthan where everyone welcomed me. I met 30 new participants who came from different parts of India. They were really amazing and I learnt a lot from them as I attended many morning circles accompanied by beautiful Kabir Bhajan songs during the program. During every morning circle, we did meditation and shared what insights we had received during the day. My learnings portray that this programme tells us what is happening inside us, we just need to observe. I became a new person each day, my layers unraveling. When I was away from my city, work, family and friends, I was able to observe the true me, my behavior, habits, actions and their impact on other people. My most tremendous learning was that I was able to reflect on what am I doing and why. What will be the outcome of my every action? I learnt everyone is connected to each other which helped me to behave empathetically with others. Everyone truly has a unique quality."

Overall, Youth Alliance has taken up a wonderful initiative by undertaking Gramya Manthan. This programme has truly optimistically impacted all of us. I would like to conclude this article in the words of Aristotle, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Written by Anisha, Core Member, Youth Alliance
Edited by Niharika, Volunteer, Manzil

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