Participating in the I Have a Dream program helped me revisit my dream of giving back to the community, a sentiment I felt strongly about during my participation in the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders exchange program in 2006. My exchange experience made me disciplined and more goal-oriented, and infused me with the desire to give more than I have received. Three months is a short time to achieve any dream; however, a workshop like I have a Dream can kick-start ideas that will continue to take form in time to come. The seeds for ‘Gaining Blessings-Bringing Smiles’ sprouted during the I Have a Dream program’s opening workshop.
Through this initiative I, along with my students, at the College where I teach, organized an Iftar-cum-dinner party during Ramzan for all the Class IV employees of around 29 institutions on the campus. This event was fully-funded through voluntary contributions by the students and staff members. I started with a team of ten students by explaining how this endeavor can create value for all involved. We managed it like a project and soon my students began to see it as an experience of managing an event of 150 people who occupy spaces quite different from ours. We drew the budget and invited quotations from caterers and other service providers, and after a lot of fine-tuning, we were able to actualize our dream of ‘Gaining Blessings-Bringing Smiles.’ Now, we plan to do this year after year with the belief that this effort will create solidarity across lines of class and religion, and will be reciprocated in the form of blessings.
The workshop had several activities; the Trust-fall was particularly impactful. It was difficult for me to let go at first. However, I was able to make that leap with support from Megha, Purnima and Kamini, facilitators for the program. The energizers were really nice and I practice them with my students. As an assistant professor, I am aware of the short attention span students have and it is commendable how the facilitators could sense us withdrawing into our own worlds, and would start an energizer. Some of these I have taken to my classroom and this has helped me in my teaching as well. Exercises like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) during the closing workshop gave me new insights about myself.
My mentor, Charu, is really good and kept on motivating me. She was always in touch and I felt a sense of accountability towards her. Had it not been for her follow-ups, I would have lost interest. My mentor was quite understanding when I changed my idea from the previous plan to the current one, and was even appreciative of it. My earlier plan was a business model for aptitude profiling of class ninth and eleventh students to enable clarity for further academic decision-making. She understood it was a complex plan to execute in such a short span of time, and has offered help with people and resources, in case I want to put it into action at a later point. I am not in touch with her at the moment but will establish contact once I decide to go back to my original plan. Lastly, during the closing workshop many of the initial participants did not attend, and that was somewhat disappointing. However, those who attended had done something during those three months, and it was quite inspirational to share space with them.
Fazil is working as an Assistant Professor with Abeda Inamdar Senior College in Pune, Maharashtra. He has a double post-graduate degree in Commerce and Management, and is currently pursuing an M.Phil. He participated in the USG-sponsored Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders exchange program in 2006. He was mentored by Charu through the USG-sponsored I Have a Dream leadership and mentoring program for International Exchange Alumni.