Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Successful Day

Last Saturday was a day to remember. That was the day on which we had the event I had written about earlier. So a bunch of us (all colleagues at my ex-employer’s – except me, I suppose) went down to a small town 100-odd kilometres away to spend the day with around fifty 12th standard students.

It went off better than I could hope. I did little, myself: having satisfied myself that we had a group of smart people to do the actual work, I sat back and watched. And learned. And enjoyed it immensely. And got emotional at certain moments. And was amazed, all over again, at the wonderful people I know.

The Guy started off by talking about the departments present in a typical company, and another guy joined him in explaining. The idea was to make them understand that even a company focused on one kind of business has many different kinds of jobs for persons with widely different backgrounds and education. Given that – as Friends of Children (FoC) volunteers had informed me earlier – many of these kids wanted to become IT engineers and teachers because those are the only role models they meet (in the form of FoC volunteers and their own teachers), we thought this was pretty important.

Next was a session on motivation, very ably delivered. The guy who took it is South Indian, and while his Hindi wasn’t perfect, he stuck to it (rarely taking recourse in English) and spoke it quite fluently, and he even understood when the students spoke in Marathi! I was surprised to discover what a good speaker he was. And he seemed to have taken efforts to prepare well for his session.

As he spoke about motivation, Mehul jumped in to talk about dreams. He got the students to participate actively, made them set down goals, and gave very helpful tips (that I should try to use, too). I have known Mehul for some time and attended many meetings with him, and had never suspected that he was so good at this! He seemed so practised, as if this was his real job. Really, this guy has so many talents. (Click on this link for his photo blog.)

Then came another guy: he was the first person I’d contacted (apart from the Guy himself) and roped in for this. I knew he was smart and spontaneous (in related news, we’d got him to be one of the hosts for our grand annual party last winter) and I had high hopes. And he proceeded to blow me away. He spoke to the students as a friend, or an elder brother, giving them practical advice and sounding like he cared. He underscored the importance of practicality, and the futility of dreaming until you can be financially independent: indeed, that is the first dream to fulfil. I was especially impressed because I know this person is unusually indifferent to money, and thinks of work more in terms of the satisfaction it will bring him: yet he was sensitive enough to understand that for students from economically disadvantaged homes, it is perhaps the most important factor.

And so the day went on. We had a session on options for Science students (especially in IT – as that was what almost everyone was interested in) taken by my ex-employer’s Systems Manager, who seemed very glad of the opportunity to stand at the blackboard. We had a couple of fun games and impromptu quizzes, and prizes were awarded. (Some courtesy my ex-employer, and some that the Guy and I had contributed.) Mehul showed some of his photographs and have photography tips (apart from giving the Guy and me some tips on using our camera, which I’m grateful for). He also took one wonderful session where kids spoke out one another’s good qualities, and at the end of which the students who got no compliments were brought to the fore and asked to talk about themselves and then given compliments.

When we were planning the event, we had been afraid that we wouldn’t have enough to do for the whole day. But we actually had to cut short because we ran out of time. We were mobbed by eager students on our way out: they wanted phone numbers, email IDs, autographs. I was gratified when an FoC volunteer praised the sessions, and our efforts.

I was so tired at the end of the day, having got up before 5 in the morning (and got less than four hours sleep), driven for over two hours to get there and the long drive back still left, yet I was extremely satisfied on the way back, and we talked animatedly in the car all the way. I was pleased that the other volunteers were interested in FoC and what it does, and were eager to be a part of future events.

This is one day that I will look back on with pleasure for a long time.

1 comment:

Mehul Chimthankar said...

Hi Unmanna,

Thank you for organizing this event, it was one of the days which added value in my life, I always wonder what is the basic purpose and true purpose, I believe spending this Saturday with the students was really the best use of time over the weekend.