I always remember one thing which Anupama, India Fellow team member said, “Look Sriram, India fellow nowhere mentioned that you are going into non-profit sector or development sector, it’s a 13 month social leadership program, to discover your own journey and to know who you are, that’s it”.
One day when I was in Aavishkaar, Aishwarya (my co-fellow) and I, were talking to Sandhya, our mentor and founder of Aavishkaar. It started as a casual talk about our classes and challenges in the classroom, but the discussion made me think and express the changes and learning that has happened in my journey. I could see a clear picture, that how I was before the fellowship and the transitions now while in it. I could observe three learning which will stand out forever in my life and are also very helpful in my future steps. I can say these take aways make a huge difference because there used to be a Sriram who never had these qualities.
- He was hesitant about asking questions, as he thought that people may say he doesn’t know anything. He used to kill the questions and adjust with the unsatisfactory answers.
- It was also difficult for him to accept that he don’t know if he doesn’t know. He used to cover up things with whatever information he had because he wanted to have his seat in the discussion. He easily used to change opinions and statements.
- He was hesitant in confronting and putting opinions forward. But now, he’s upgraded, It took a lot to dismantling and rebuilding for Sriram, Version 2.0.
1. As I was in my induction training in India Fellow, a lot of the sessions had topics which were going over my head. Even if I was not getting any clarity, I was trying to understand it myself instead of asking about it. But after coming to my workplace, discussions with Sarith and Sandhya about different topics of Math and Science made me start asking questions without any hesitation because at the end it is me who has to get the answers. Science is not about knowing the solutions but framing the correct question to deal with, all these aspects built quality in me of asking questions.
2. While we interact with the teachers about pedagogy, the first thing we say is that please accept that you don’t know if you really don’t know about a topic. Saying I don’t know is not so easy but if we accept, we could build good relations with the students. Teacher’s position is set as that he should know everything, and that creates a huge pressure, which is unfair. So instead of covering things with less knowledge, open up gates for learning and that only happens if we are open to say I Don’t Know. This idea has greatly impressed me and I am trying to be as clear as possible.
3. We do some activities with teachers and the students about articulation, in which each team is given a few toys and asked to arrange those in any pattern. But they should not show to the other team what they have made finally. So the team who made the final product, they’ll write up all the process and description of their items about how are they placed, which toy is at which position etc … and give it to the other team. Now the other team has to build the same pattern as it is by reading the document. Most of the teachers and students don’t make it exactly the same – proving the discord between what we say, write and do. The work will be successful when all these three are in sync. This activity helped me in sticking to my statements and acting according to what I say.
There is one constant quality which didn’t change since the beginning and became even stronger. I always believed that no one in this world can change or inspire others. There is no other motivation than self-motivation. All else only fuels our self-motivation. I have been meeting different personalities as part of my fellowship. I could see different lifestyles and thoughts, which are all very unique and respectable. Whoever I met until now never mentioned that I was inspired or motivated by one person, they all just observed great leaders or people’s stories. We can read, listen and understand other’s stories for reference, but we cannot imbibe them in our stories. So focus on things which you feel strong and confident in, instead of comparing to others and quantifying our talents. This reminder has constantly helped me in the past months.
I hope the remainder of the journey gives me more beautiful and power packed qualities and takeaways.