An account of International Youth Day, as celebrated by MASH Project
While all of India eagerly awaits major festivals, MashKots look forward to International
Youth Day on August 12! MASH Project utilises this day with an event to highlight the importance and relevance of Youth in the social sector. International Youth Day(hyperlink) 2017’s event consisted of going back to the basics and closely observing all the MASH values that make up our value system – LLIFE.
L- Leadership, L- Learning, I- Inclusivity, F- Fun, E- Excellence
Our event this year consisted of special guest speakers who personified our ideals in
their lives and the missions they fight for.
Revisiting Our Values
Our first speaker, Mr. Ramkumar, a quirky and humorous orator, spoke about Leadership and Learning in the context of ‘UnLearning and Fantastic Failures’. He began his presentation with a quick mirroring activity where we had to follow our partner’s actions. This ice-breaker forced all of us to take on positions of leading and following while having fun. Mr. Ramkumar used this activity to highlight the importance of leading and leading by following. He mentioned that in school while we learn the Pythagoras theorem, or that ‘mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell’, we don’t learn many real life skills like filing taxes or handling credit card bills. His first teaching, there are two forms of learning- ‘Learning for Livelihood’ and ‘Learning for Living’ which make up our lives. And the path to learning for living is littered with upcoming failures.
Mr.Ramkumar’s second teaching is based on embracing failures- “Failures are good, as long as you stand up after.” He highlighted his own failures to explicate this point. On completing his MBA from the University of Leicester, he suddenly found himself with no placements and no prospects. All because he had taken some decisions that were outside the box.
Devastated then, thankful now, he believes that the failure of securing a placement lead to many crucial events in his life that are marked success- starting his organisation Uniglow (Uniting Initiators for Glorious Work), receiving an invitation to speak at a UN event and creating movements like ‘Champions of Change’. The remarkable failure of putting his MBA in use lead to his starting a social enterprise, Uniglow which links ground-level social activity with the United Nations and creating an organisation, Champions of Change, that cultivates social responsibility in students by involving them in real world problems. He ended his presentation with an urge to the youth to spend more time outside the classroom and try everything because his simple philosophy is, “You can either be a History Reader or a History Creator.”
Inclusivity Through Conflict Transformation
The second speaker for the evening was Ms. Sneha Roy who specializes in Conflict, Reconciliation, Gender, and Religion.
A thought-provoking speaker, Ms. Roy led us through a workshop that forced us to consider hard-hitting questions and bring out our debating skills.
All the attendees had to stand in the middle of the room and choose between the stances of ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘I Don’t Know’ for the statements Ms. Roy threw at us. We engaged in debate on statements such as ‘My religion is the only correct religion in the world’, ‘Killing someone is justifiable, in some situations’, ‘Terrorism has a religion’, ‘There should be caste- based reservation’, etc.
The point of this activity was to highlight the cases of extremism or radicalism. In the theme of Inclusivity of the MASH values, extremism can be deterrents to discussion, empathy and dignity. Ms. Roy’s primary teaching was to be cautious of one’s own convictions. A person can be utterly convinced of what they ‘know’ which restrict organic debate and discussion.
MASH is very grateful for the two speakers who so perfectly exemplify our LLIFE values. From having the courage to stand up after failing, to following and leading by example, to working together, these teachings create the ultimate recipe for a fun work ethic aiming towards the unexpected successes in life.
–Pooja K Kumar