I joined the I Have a Dream program in the month of May after high school examinations. My Alumni Affairs Coordinator informed me about it and the experience has been really useful. After returning from the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (KL-YES) Program during 2012-13, I started working with an NGO and while doing so, I had always dreamt of starting a project of my own. However, I was not trained enough to be able to do so singlehandedly. While my exchange experience gave me the exposure, helped me gain confidence, and enhanced my ability to see things from various perspectives, I was still not confident enough to start a project on my own. The activities in the opening workshop of I Have a Dream program provided me with a focused space to plan and process my ideas. The section on the structure of an NGO was informative, and the exercises undertaken there provided personal motivation to someone like me who has no prior training. The information on how to gather resources and how to handle stress has been helpful while implementing my project.
I also appreciated the personal touch facilitators brought to the sessions. This enabled me to bring out my fears, and what was stopping me. When I unpacked my doubts, I received great feedback and ideas from the facilitators, and that boosted my confidence. My greatest fear was that I might not get the expected results out of it. Another apprehension was about starting on my own. However, when I watched documentaries of people already engaged in such ventures I realized it is time I did this. Through examples of people already doing this I found courage to start my own journey.
I have passion for and skills in computers and thought it would be great to teach underprivileged students who don’t have access to computers. I started by gathering kids from sixth to ninth grades who would be interested in learning. Sometimes the kids were playful and not very attentive and then, after two-three days, they started to lose interest. I did this for one month and then there was a hiatus. Here, my mentor, Parveen Hafeez, was especially motivating and encouraged me to start again. She suggested I find out what they are interested in and then orient my curriculum accordingly. I taught them how to type and perform basic arithmetic operations, how to use paintbrush and save a file. We ended the course with their parents coming to watch them work with computers. My mentor is extremely busy, and looking at how hard she works and manages her time was inspiring. It also made me realize the importance of time, and I started prioritizing better and learned to say no to a lot of other things.
I am not really in touch with my mentor after the completion of the first phase of my project and then, I got busy with college. However, currently I am in the process of planning for the second phase which will be executed during the coming summer holidays. I want to reach out to her with something tangible. For the second phase I am gathering a few more people and will get myself more organized. I am planning a longer curriculum for this phase and it won’t stop at that. I want to take it further to the next level. Perhaps another venue, more frequency of classes. I desire to take this project through various phases, it will expand in scope and will continue to take shape over the next several years.
Mohamed is currently in the first year of B.Tech in Information Technology. He participated in the USG-sponsored Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) exchange program in 2012-13. He was mentored by Ms. Parveen Hafeez through the USG-sponsored I Have a Dream leadership and mentoring program for International Exchange Alumni.