Friday 19 July 2019

Being A Champ In Your Own Little Way

I had back to back trips in April, May and June this year. So I have gathered quite a few alternate learning moments.

Surfing through Facebook groups I see an opportunity in a college that does not believe in degrees. It was a short assignment for roughly three weeks. I ping the Education head on Watsapp, get interviewed and few days later I am on a train to manage one of their centers.

I had taken up this assignment to know more about this sector – education, housing, environment- in a more practical way. I was very keen to work in the social sector and my decades of experience in corporate was kind of hindering this. My mind was open to observe and build my learning on these short meaningful experiences.

Soon after I landed in this center that was running a month long summer camp I get to hear from all the facilitators, Ayahs and even the wardens about one particular girl who was  just not attentive in class, never participated, or wrote any notes and  always demanded everyone’s attention to herself – Ok now that is a long, tough one.

I made a mental note of her name and decided to spend some time.

In the corridor of the hostel, I found a short haired girl calling "Maam" repeatedly with a sense of urgency. I did not realize she was actually calling me as I was heading towards the Dining space. I stopped as I heard her, waited for her to walk to where I stood, looking at her inquisitively to know what she wanted to share that was so urgent. As she approached me I asked her what is it that she wanted to talk to about.

Her response, “Are you going to the Dining Space?”

Even before I answer, she slowly walked away without another word.

That’s when I knew this was the girl they were talking about.

A couple of days later, one of the girls mentioned, “Maam, she does not write anything in class” to which my dear girl had a ready response in Hindi “Kaahe ke liye likhu main phokat mein” (Why should I write for nothing?)

I saved my sermons. I stifled a smile at the way she spoke.

In the next two weeks I had brief sessions with her when I received complaints from other girls about her temperamental outbursts, all of them ending up in Hi fives to lighten the atmosphere and returning to their rooms as friends.

In mathematics class I noticed, she actually did not attempt to solve any sum and as the class ended, she quietly slips her notebook into her bag and comfortably moves to one corner of the auditorium so that the facilitator who is busy with other students misses her completely.

I was in that class to observe the facilitator's mode of delivery but I had my eyes fixed on the girl. I slowly walk towards the sofa, made her take that notebook out and complete a couple of sums - just multiplication. That is what she needs every minute – undivided attention to get her to do anything.

On the day of final ceremony, she was in tears and threw tantrums as her costume was given to another girl and she refused to perform in spite of practicing for three weeks. We promised to arrange a beautiful costume for her, but she did not budge an inch and kept asking me to talk to Maam, however she did not name anyone – So I wasn’t sure who I should approach.

I understood it was not easy for the child to be abandoned in the last minute for want of a costume - on the day she was supposed to perform and handing over her costume to someone else was all the more hard to deal with. 

And yet, the little girl was mindful not to mention any facilitator's name who did this to her. She wasn't even blaming anyone. She kept repeatedly telling me to talk to all Maams. I tried to imagine, in a scenario like this, how would an adult behave? 

What a champ she was! And sadly, we adults fail to recognize that.

I held the dance facilitator responsible for this as she had to  have the exact count based on performers for each act. She had a rationale though to give the costume to another child as the other girl was performing in the first row. The Dance facilitator promised me she will own this up and definitely have the crying child perform on stage after another costume is arranged – which she did.

By the end of the day, the young girl was very happy as her costume was indeed more beautiful and she looked very pretty.

After the ceremony, once we were back to the hostel, many girls began collecting phone numbers of their favorite facilitators as the next day morning the girls were supposed to return home.

She was a happy child now and caught me just outside the dining space door, sat down in the chair nearby, asked for my number and beautifully, carefully noted every digit in her note book with an ink pen, as I dictated.

I sat beside her, appreciated her handwriting and reminded her of the day when she told “Why should I write for nothing?” I asked her, "Now do you think writing is important?" She was too shy as I reminded her behavior the first day and her approach towards writing. She smiled quietly.

I saved my sermon for the last day. I have no idea what was her takeaway from the camp but mine was simple – Never to give up on any child.

While most of us try to see potential in a child for a job driven market, we miss to notice the underlying promise of a good human being in the making.

Sunday 3 March 2019

Digital Internship: Change Your Diet

Today, we had a fishing competition in the large pool within our residential complex premises.

There was a nominal participation fee - INR 500 and those who were interested, had to bring their own equipment.

The Bait

I am not talking about the bait for the fishes. The organisors made it clear that there is no advantage or fee waiver even if you are a resident here.

On a daily basis, people swim in this pool - even an instructor comes here every weekend to teach swimming to young kids. The kids pay the instructor however access to the pool, to the best of my understanding, is free.

Then how fair is it to charge for the fishing contest? Did you know the contest will last for 7 hours and what you catch will be worth much more than what you pay?

Moreover, there is unlimited supply of tea and biscuit as you wait for the fish to be hooked. Even lunch will be taken care.

All of this makes sense, and each time this contest attracts quiet a few participants. Even if the participant caught two fishes of adequate weight, he can easily recover the cost of participating in the contest.

The winning prize is for the one who caught maximum number of fishes in the shortest duration. So it is a win win.

The Association uses this money to maintain the pool every year. So fishing contest is the best bait they can think of so that they need not use the maintenance fund collected from residents every month and make this fishing thing an annual ritual to recover some of the pool cleaning costs.

People here look forward to it and is major talking point among residents. A quiet Sunday. A decent crowd and lots of fishes. It is quiet a trophy. A win win again for Association and residents.

The Diet

The most common issues with digital internship are mostly to deal with their  decades old habits - the rigid learning pattern, the predictable thinking pattern, the same expectations pattern and the common fear pattern

I have noticed this across all age groups - freshers and experienced people - who have approached me to learn alternative options to earn by working from home, adding skills and winning independent assignments from clients

The word internship is usually associated with fresh graduates who are stepping into the corporate world. However the reality is anyone who ventures to learn something new at any point of time, regardless of age, is an intern for that particular learning, when he applies it for the first time in real life and live projects

Change Your Diet

Most of us our slaves of our habits and natural thinking patterns.

Here is a quick short story

Once a man went to his neighbor asking for a rope to tie his mule. The neighbor did not have any rope and asked the man to just put his hands around the neck of the mule and it will automatically believe that something was used to tie his neck and therefore not try to move.

What do you think possibly must have happened the next day when the man mounted the mule to set off to work? The mule obviously refused to budge an inch from its place.

The man had to remove the rope. Was there any rope? Nope.

Just the man knows that - Not the mule. So that is what it is - Slaves of habitual thinking pattern

The interns learn skills fast. Andragogy (Adult based learning) is need based and most adults find their own inspiration, need and motivation to act and yet fail to be consistent because they fall back to old habits and habitual thought patterns

So how to change habits? This is exactly where most new learners fail because they just go back to their old routines, with or without new skills.

It is very important to note, that y our diet is not only what you eat.

It is who you speak to on a regular basis, what  you watch on TV or YouTube, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang out with, what topics you prefer to talk about, what you do on a daily basis, what you feed yourself with on social media and the things you subject your mind, heart and soul to.

If you are not mindful of the things that you expose yourself to, you end up absorbing and put a lot of weeds in your body emotionally, spiritually and physically instead of seeds that can bring out change in habits, behavior and results.

If things are not working, results are not happening, it is time to change your diet.

Do not fall for the bait no matter how tempting it is, if it is not part of your diet. If you do fall, then it the most predictable reaction you probably give for every temptation that you face.

If your past responses in similar situation has not got you the desired results, expecting a different output while the input is absolutely the same, is to live in fool's paradise.

Are you ready to set your diet right now?