A lamp lit from the cool sky

Purpose means you have undertaken something that makes you feel you are sharing your talents with the world. It makes your existence worthwhile. – Om Swami.

And, I have found my purpose. Have been lucky to be associated with the SBA EYSMS program as a
mentor. It has been steep learning curve and have loved every moment. Thought of sharing the new
learnings on this platform; hope you find it useful as it provides a glimpse of the eco-system in
Himachal Pradesh and how it has impacted me.
Have been mentoring three students since January 2022. They are all at different stages of formal
learning. To protect the identity of students, let us just know them as Ram, Laxman and Sita. Ram is
in second year of degree program in Computer Applications while Sita is in first year. Laxman is
pursuing Computer Applications diploma at a training institute.
As a mentor, my role is to guide them in all areas with a goal to ensure that they are placed in
whatever choice that they have, following their graduation. The lead team of SBA EYSMS had
sensitized us enough so that we do not push any mentee. It was also informed to us that mentees
come from humble background and are not proficient in spoken English, as also low in confidence.
My first learning has been the eco-system in which the mentees are operating. Here are the salient
characteristics:

  1. All of them have domestic commitment on daily basis that includes, cutting and bringing
    fresh grass from nearby forest, cooking dinner for family of 5-7 members, and attending to
    grandparents.
  2. Couple of them commute for two hours or less each day to reach college, and obviously
    same amount to return to their homes. Third mentee walks one and a half kilometers to
    college.
  3. All of them have grand parents staying with them and most of them are ailing as they age.
  4. None of them, barring one, has anyone who is even a graduate in the family, or in
    immediate relations.
  5. Some colleges are better than the others and, therefore, the faculty-student interaction is
    not always energizing and motivating for mentees.
    Clearly, this is vastly different from that in the urban eco-system. Thus, for example, my own son did
    not inherit any of these. A direct consequence was for me to appreciate the time that the mentee
    has, to devote to her/his studies at home and, the level and pace of guidance that the situation
    demands

    I could see a discernible difference in the outlook, drive, focus of a mentee who had some guidance
    on career and academics and the others who did not. The fact that it is essential to guide the
    mentees appropriately on career aspects
    was clearly evident to me and, therefore, the addition of a
    mentoring scheme to the scholarship program from day one was smart move by the SBA Program
    Team.

I did push Sita to devote more time for studies and sure enough, she just went incommunicado for
almost a month with me. I had to take support of the SBA Lead team to re-establish the contact.
However, once contact was made, it required some effort on my part to impress on her the reasons
for my push. She understood it completely and now appreciates the message whole heartedly.
When one is working for the right cause, the Universe conspires to support you and I am grateful for
the same.
In spite of caution by the SBA Program team not to push, I did so because of my own desire to see
Sita excel. Balancing of what is good for the mentee and the limitation of eco-system mentee is
operating in, has been a huge learning. A corollary to this of course is also not to get attached to
the mentee emotionally.

With time and, therefore, cumulative communication hours, a certain level of trust developed. After
this stage, we could discuss what is on mind of mentees with greater ease. Discovering talents in
each of the mentee was an exhilarating experience and challenged me to mentor them
appropriately
. For example, Sita is very talented in graphics and is passionate about the same. She is
very social while Ram is introvert with almost zero social life, while Laxman is an enthusiastic person.
As can be expected, the colleges they are attending is impacting the skills and knowledge they are
developing. The role of mentor is not same as that of a teacher. An old phrase – “If you give a man a
fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for lifetime” – works as
reminder to ensure that mentoring is done to build a persona of mentees that serves them beyond
graduation and placement.

It so happened that all three mentees faced some adversaries which they would have never
anticipated. Father of Ram lost his job after having worked for them for fifteen years, grandfather of
Sita was admitted to hospital and mother of Laxman had to undergo a surgery and his elder brother
had to relinquish his job due to unlawful activities by the employer. However, even though Ram was
having his final exams when his father lost his job, he did not get perturbed. Likewise, Laxman
dropped his dream to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science as earnings from two
members stopped and he has to work following his graduation. Perhaps the biggest learning and
inspiration for me when working with these mentees is that all of them face the adversities in
stride with calmness and complete acceptance
.
All three mentees have given me gifts of values. While Ram is extremely hard-working, disciplined
and focused, Sita has child-like innocence and mischievous. On two occasions, while I was speaking
to her on my weekly calls, she just handed over her phone to her mother and told me to talk to her.
It was not something that I expected but recognizing her innocence, it was a lovely experience for
me.
Have experienced with all three mentees a clear demonstration of values that we cherish. Resolve,
determination, courage, and calmness are key attributes of these mentees to emulate. The sub-
heading of blog is inspired by these young beautiful souls and I continue my journey along with
them.
~Author: Peeush
Original article appeared at os.me here

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    SBA EMERGING YOUTH SCHOLARSHIP & MENTORSHIP SCHEME

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