Trained around 300 final year students from 6 graduation streams. We were a team of 3, preparing these job aspirants for employ-ability in a 10 day training program with assessments throughout.
It was the IHRD College of Applied Sciences in my city, so I was all the more curious to know the local student body. And the youth never cease to amaze.
The first day of the switch from polished corporate ways to raw campus learning was challenging. I quickly realized the energy level required is way higher. The placement officer was very dedicated, always ensuring the best interests of her students. On my side, I made sure all my sessions were peppered with practical examples and MTI nuggets.
We trained them on critical thinking, creativity, language and grooming. They were the batch that had received no real college experience due to COVID. We went about it in different ways, but made sure every person who attended had 2-3 rounds of speak-up experience in addition to everything else.
They smash all our assumptions. I had to constantly prepare and revamp my sessions, as they quickly ate up the material I had prepared and asked for more. They surprised me with their knowledge on current affairs and their willingness to speak up. Their hunger to achieve made for a refreshing change from the sophisticated corporate ways.
In corporate trainings, I believe in up-skill and not motivation. I rarely cross that line. Here that line cannot be drawn. Many of the feedback forms for me had words like “kind” “helpful” “Ma’am kept giving me chances till I gave up on withdrawing and got it right”. I was so invested I lost my voice every evening but made sure to get it back every next day morning.
On the final day, we changed avatars from trainers to HR. We grilled them. We were relentless about bringing the realities out there in today’s world to their table.
Added to my days of hectic preparation, delivery and assessments, my nights were filled with dancing. The Navratri in Calicut Gujarati Samaj is huge. Aarti at 8 pm, garba at 8.30 pm, dandiya at 11:15 pm. Amidst the huge bollywood styling of this festival elsewhere, we at Calicut still have the innocence and beauty of our elders standing right in the center of our hall, singing for us the ancient folk songs. We dance around them and around the garba sthapana right in the center. My husband being a Gujarati, and me being a happy soul when I dance, every night so far we were there from 8 pm-12 am. Three more days to go. We dance in the auditorium upstairs, we eat at the food stalls below and we socialize. We dress up to the skies.
Some days, when I was the only invigilator in a room full of 60 students cracking the aptitude assessments, my legs refused to go in straight lines. They were going criss-cross in the garba way. I would consciously look around and then stand still till my legs re-oriented.
To end this precious week, let me conclude with lessons I learn from Garba :
It is all about finding your place in the circle. Times when you lose it, keep planning, keep striving to be back.
The center circle is the fastest. To be there confidence matters more than dancing skills.
Pace yourself. Reserve energy for the songs that talk to your heart.
Its about taking up your space fully, without conceit, while not invading others space.
Sometimes, you step out into the unknown just because your friend needs a partner. Personal liberty matters, but not at the cost of your partner’s liberties.
Let your changing priorities, your changing energy and your changing surroundings guide you.
While it is all about enjoying yourselves, there is addendum to everything we do : preparing the next generation. Even when they annoy you by smashing into your neat circles with their clumsy moves.