Monday, May 03, 2010

DnE 4 Mentor's speak

Here are a few experiences shared by Mentors who participated in Dronacharya & Ekalavya

Nikhitha Rao - Mentor - Kukatpally School
BHUMI / DnE4 is truly one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I cannot express in words what BHUMI means to me ( I mean that its beyond words :) ). I learnt a lot working with BHUMI, learnings that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I worked as a tutor in the Kukatpally school. It was not at all easy. The kids were not interested, I did not know exactly what and how to teach, the attendance of the students was very low, their english was very weak, they were scared of the language. All these were very discouraging. But still I had to keep going. I genuinely wanted to help the kids, but I was not able to bring a change. It used to kill me from the inside. It was a challenge, one of the most difficult that I ever faced. Then I spoke to my coaches. That too dint help ! I was so pissed off with them because they dint give me a solution that I almost cried out of helplessness. I thought about it a lot and then came up with the idea of teaching the students English right from the scratch and do it in a fun way. Then I realized that my coaches had actually empowered me to solve the problems on my own. I was a leader in my own way !! Though I unfortunately did not get the chance to implement my solution I at least got the confidence to face difficult challenges n come up with apt solutions to those challenges.

Teaching the students made me very patient. Their English was very poor and I had to be patient with them while explaining minute things of the language that we take for granted, thanks to our good education background. 'Losing my cool with them would badly hurt them and their confidence' - I had to keep this in mind and I had to constantly keep reminding myself about it. Eventually, I realized that this applies not only to the children I taught but also to everyone parents, friends etc. So, I started keeping this in mind not only when I was a tutor but everywhere else. The result was a more patient Nikhitha. I dont say that I am saint now and I no more get angry...but yes, I am more patient than before.

Confidence - My confidence levels improved drastically. I was not much of a public speaker before I joined BHUMI. Speaking in front of everybody in the learning cycles helped me gain a lot of confidence. Also, I got the confidence to take decisions, my own decisions. I got the confidence to take up responsibilities.

I also made very good friends at BHUMI. The concept of families worked wonders. Speaking to our family members, sharing our feelings, our deepest secrets was extremely enriching. I would look forward to going to school the entire week. I would literally crave for Sundays.

I would conclude by saying that I am in love with BHUMI. I am so very proud to be a BHUMITE.

Cheers, Nikhitha

K. Krishna Chaitanya - Mentor - Kukatpally School
All the mentors, tutors and coordinators met at our school as usual. After our routine work our coordinators asked us our opinion regarding the way we wanted the closures and instantly most of us told that we would like to close DnE4 (for Kukatpally ZPHS) by celebrating. Interested mentors were asked to take responsibility for organizing this party. I was one amongst them. A team of mentors was formed.
There is a famous quote by Bruce Lee, it goes like this “Knowing is not enough we must apply. Willing is not enough we must do”. Our coordinators wanted us follow what Bruce Lee said. They have taught us leadership during the DnE4. Now they wanted us to implement what we have learnt. We divided the work among ourselves. After considering many options we finally decided to have a roof-top barbeque party. We tried to estimate the total cost for the party. Luckily we found a chef who agreed to give us food at a lower price just because we are a part of BHUMI.

We had to meet everyday during the last 4 days before the party. Everyday we decided when and where to meet (thanks to Graham bell). Those meetings were real fun; we started at 8pm and continued till 11pm. We used to discuss about the updates, plan for the next day, eat, shout, watch IPL and sometimes argue. People around used to stared at us. The organizers and coordinators called the mentors personally to invite them as they thought it is important for every mentor and tutor of kukatpally ZPHS School to attend closures because everyone contributed their share for DnE4 and closures was a place to acknowledge the efforts put in and appreciate people.

Finally the D - day has come. Though the party didn’t start on time, people, who arrived early for the party helped us in arranging things. We started with five - second greeting. While greeting, people told a lot of good things I dint know about me and I felt great about myself. Coordinators gave a message to the mentors. Following it mentors were given titles. The best thing about giving away titles is it was not a one man’s decision. They asked the crowd to nominate 3 mentors for each title and then vote for each nominee. We enjoyed doing this. We had dinner, danced, took pictures.

At the end we discussed what went right and what went wrong. Our coordinators were very happy for the efforts we put in and appreciated for the same. We were given a detailed feedback on the event and also were given suggestions on the areas we needed to improve. I learned the way to plan an event and organize it effectively.
Altogether it was a great experience organizing the party. As Rathin (mentor) mentioned “A Ship is always safe at the shore - but that is NOT what it is built for” Our coordinators made us understand our strengths and made us realize that we are capable doing more than what we are actually doing.

I have been a mentor for DnE3 as well. There is a tremendous improvement in the way DnE happened this year. Unlike DnE3, DnE4 had mentor – mentor interaction. Every Sunday we met, we learnt something new. We had many learning circles this year apart from the workshops.

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