Telling the tale: So as to document the ‘change’ in the lives of communities – the beneficiaries of social projects of companies and non-profits
In Focus: Young Instructor Leader (YIL) programme and Operation Vasantha by Agastya International Foundation
Young Instructor Leader (YIL) programme – Peer-to-Peer Teaching
Basamma H, 19 years old
Pursuing mechanical engineering in Yelahanka, Bengaluru
Basamma’s parents are daily-wage labourers.
‘Snacks were my favourite part at Agastya during my initial days,’ recalls Basamma, with a spark in her eyes, and narrates her story: ‘I was in class 8 at GHS-Kodigehalli when a selection process for the YIL programme was conducted by Agastya instructors. I was among the 20 students who were selected. Little did I know back then that that was going to be a turning point in my life.
‘Agastya’s YIL programme helped me to explore so many opportunities around me. One instance that vividly comes to my mind happened during 2015–16. The Agastya bus took us all to a very big campus – it was beautiful and I wondered what it was and what I was going to do there. Later they told us that it was the IIM-B campus. They taught us a lot of concepts using different activities and I gained a lot of knowledge there. Another time they took us to the TISS-Bangalore campus.’
Today, as Basamma looks back at her school life, she acknowledges that the YIL journey enhanced her leadership skills and science knowledge, along with her observation and analytical skills. She remembers: ‘It was my dream to do mechanical engineering, but during my counselling session I was told not to choose or pursue the same because “it’s not meant for girls”. I just didn’t understand why and hence never accepted their ‘advice’. I told myself that I would prove them all wrong, and I did! Today, I am doing well in my studies and my family, teachers and well-wishers are very proud of it.’
Basamma, as a child, also wished to become a teacher. Agastya’s sessions (hands-on learning experience) enabled her to make this a reality. Before joining the engineering college, she had some time to spare and decided to help the Class 10 students at GHS-Kodigehalli, who back then didn’t have a science teacher. The Agastya sessions equipped her to not only teach biology but also help the children prepare for their internal examinations.
S Prasanna Kumar, 20 years old
Pursuing B.Tech degree in Kuppam Engineering College
Prasanna’s father is a stone cutter and his mother is a housewife. He has a younger brother who is a quality-testing manager and an older sister who has B.A. and B.Ed degrees.
Prasanna was studying in 6th standard when he came to know about Agastya, though as a destination for a fun trip. When he told his parents about his upcoming trip, his mother was reluctant to let him go. It took his school teachers’ persuasion and explaining the importance of him attending Agastya sessions for them to be convinced.
On his first experience of being at the Kuppam campus, Prasanna says: ‘I was fascinated.’ He particularly enjoyed visiting the chemistry lab where he worked on different chemicals and learnt the names of the elements.
Remembering another milestone occasion, he narrates: ‘When I was in 8th standard, I was selected for Intel Science Fair at the national level. I enjoyed the time we spent preparing for it. My friend and I were able to work on our idea of planting Albizia lebbeck on the sidewalks of the highway. We got this idea by observing our neighbour, who used it as a bathing soap. Later, we found that these plants offered natural benefits like curbing soil erosion and wanted to plant these on the sidewalks of roads. We shared this idea with our Agastya instructors, who worked with us for six months so we could present it at the science fair.’
The experience boosted Prasanna’s confidence and sealed his love for science. According to him, the Agastya sessions were a real-time learning process as every time he was taught a new topic, he also understood its relevance and applicability.
Prasanna went on to become a part of Agastya’s Young Instructor Leader programme and receives Rs 3000 a month, which he puts towards college fees and other educational expenses. The confidence that he acquired over time also put him on the path of entrepreneurship, even as he carries on with the engineering course.
V Sandhya, 20 years old
Pursuing B.Sc at CVRM Degree College, V.Kota
Sandhya’s father is a farmer and an auto driver while her mother is a homemaker.
‘My first day at Agastya was very special to me. I was fascinated by the buildings and the environment at the campus. The first thing I did was watch a video on moral values in the Young Instructor Leader (peer-to-peer learning) lab, following which we were divided into groups to perform a hands-on experiment on a hibiscus flower,’ recalls Sandhya.
A shy and quiet child sitting in the back of her classroom, Sandhya’s experience at Agastya was a journey of exploration. As a Young Instructor Leader (YIL), she introduced experiential learning to many children in her village, organised alumni meets for Agastya, briefly taught school-dropout children as a team member of Operation Vasantha, and organised rallies to spread awareness on AIDS and the importance of cleanliness and hygiene.
In her words: ‘With my experience of facilitating and compering Agastya’s alumni meets, I don’t have stage fright anymore. I have confidence in myself that I can do anything. I have no fear in conducting seminars or explaining any experiments to my college peers.’ This confidence gave her the courage to interact with others to solve certain pressing problems in her community.
For Sandhya, Agastya symbolises a storehouse of real-life experiences and educational enhancement. One instance that she remembers as having had a huge impact on her was the Maverick Teachers Global Summit meeting. She interacted with invitees from all over the world and amassed vital life lessons through collaborating and performing experiments with them.
Now Sandhya dreams of becoming an IAS officer and serving her country, particularly people from marginalised and impoverished communities. Her experience as a community leader has led her to identify the pressing problems in society, analyse them, and solve them.
This feature is part of CauseBecause’s continuing endeavour to understand, facilitate and document impact of social projects.