I have attended several technical workshops during my engineering course. With a name like I Have a Dream, I had assumed there will be counseling over career options one could pursue after graduation. It was way better than I had expected, everything we learned was by way of activities. We were made to dive deep into our own selves. During those four days, I got the time to think about myself, which is something I had not done before. As an alumna of the Space Camp program in 2011, I had learned to adapt to various situations and people during my stay in the United States. While the exchange experience tested my adaptability in varying contexts, similar challenges were posed at me by way of activities during my participation in the I Have a Dream program.
The concept of the 5th Space and how youngsters relate to society stayed with me. It also made me realize if we have the intent to help then no constraint can possibly discourage us. If we think we need a lot of money to help others, we are wrong. It doesn’t require much money but a strong desire to help someone. Knowing there will be times fear will creep in when we try something new we try something new. And yet we need to take 100% responsibility for our actions irrespective of whether we succeed or fail.
My dream for societal change is to do something for the underprivileged kids. When I went back to college, I ran for the President of the Rotaract Club of my college and also won the elections. This helped me implement many of my ideas — we visited orphanages in the vicinity, distributed food and ration packages. On Independence Day, we invited children from the neighboring slums and showed them around, taking them to the library as well as laboratories in our college. Apart from this, I have also conducted a tree plantation drive in my college and, along with other students, organized a Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan event in the Esplanade area.
My mentor, Akhtar sir, used to call every 15 days or so to understand how my project was advancing. I did not call him that often. The thought of having a mentor was a real support, knowing there is someone to go to if I am stuck or cannot proceed forward, was a big assurance. Someone who is there to guide me and is a constant source of strength. Those calls from his end were needed and pushed me when I slacked off. For two months I was busy with end-semester exams and campus recruitment and could not focus on the project. As a mentor he was understanding and empathetic to my schedule. Had he insisted otherwise, I would not have been able to focus on either of the activities. On occasions, he also helped me prioritize when there was confusion about several things happening simultaneously.
Participating in this program has brought about a big transformation within me. I have become more confident, and make a conscious effort to be a more responsible individual than I was earlier. This workshop has changed my entire world-view, I don’t judge people now and try to understand them by putting myself in their shoes.
Prachi is currently in the last year of her B.Tech degree. She participated in the USG-sponsored Space Camp Program in 2011. She was mentored by Mr. S.S. Akhtar through the USG-sponsored I Have a Dream leadership and mentoring program for International Exchange Alumni.