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The Youth Taking Charge Now

The Youth Taking Charge Now

Fr. Varghese Alengaden, the founder of Universal Solidarity Movement (USM), believes that the youth are not only the future, but also the present. Hence they have to take charge NOW. Greta Thunberg, the young global climate activist, has proved that the youth can take charge now. If they wait for the future, they may not have the future at all.  While addressing the world leaders at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, she told them bluntly, “You have failed us – you continue to fail us, we will not forgive you”. 

The ultimate objective of conducting one week Enlightened Leadership Training for High School students in USM is to prepare the young students to take charge as leaders now without waiting for the future opportunities. The participants are also made to understand that without self transformation no social transformation is possible. At the end of the training all participants take resolutions to be implemented at the personal level and the school level. In other words they make an action plan for the school and for themselves. Seeing the transformation in the students who have participated in USM training, the parents and the teachers realize that the students have started taking various initiatives in their limited circles.

22 Students and three teachers of St. Mary’s School, Bhopal participated in the Enlightened Leadership Training in USM from March 30th to April 6th, 2019. After the one week intensive training the students and the teachers prepared their personal reports in which they had mentioned the changes that had taken place in them. They also had taken certain resolutions to make the changes sustainable. As a group, they had prepared an action plan for their school. This action plan is written and kept at a prominent place in the school so that the other students also could be inspired to cooperate in the implementation of the action plan.  

On September 28, I visited the St. Mary’s School and met some parents of the school in order to assess the impact of the training on the students. Out of the 22 parents, 14 (64%) attended a meeting on 28th Sept, although the invitation to the parents was given only one day before the meeting. All 22 students who had participated in the leadership training also were present at the meeting. The principal had invited about 40 students of class 9 and 10, who had not participated in the training for this meeting in view of motivating them to go for USM leadership training.

First the parents were asked to share the changes that they have noticed in their children after participating in the training. All of them shared before the gathering the transformation they have observed in their students as a result of the training. Thereafter, they were given a questionnaire to be filled up. The questionnaire was prepared in view of assessing the impact of the training, using 8 parameters. The following table summarizes the answers given by the parents.

Summary of the feedback received from the parents of the students who participated in the Enlightened Leadership Training

Sl. No

Type of Change that has taken place in the students

Yes

No

% of Yes

% of No

1

Become more disciplined

14

0

100

0

2

Increased concentration on study

14

0

100

0

3

Reduced the time used for TV and mobile phone

12

2

  86

4

4

Reduced eating junk food

12

2

  86

4

5

Become more self dependent and Started doing personal work like arranging bed, washing own plates after the meals.

14

0

100

 

6

Spend money very carefully.

14

0

100

0

7

Become more concerned about the poor and the less privileged.

14

0

100

0

8

Increased self confidence.

14

0

100

0

 

Total

108

4

96

4

All 14 parents said “yes” to the question whether they were happy to send their children for the training to USM. Out of the 14 parents 12 affirmed that changes have taken place in their children in the above mentioned aspects as a result of participating in the USM leadership training. They also appreciated the efforts taken by USM to instil “sanskar” in the students. Only two parents said that changes took place only in 6 aspects. There has been no reduction in the addiction to junk food and use of mobile phone in their children. The overall impact on the 14 students is 96%.

Some other changes the parents have noticed in their children are: positive thinking, concentration on everything the child does, increased awareness about the country and the world, increased interest in reading books and newspaper.

Some Sharing by the Parents

According to Sanjeev Srivastav, father of Lakshita Srivastav, his daughter has become self dependent.   After waking up in the morning she prepares her bed instead of leaving it to her mother. On her birthday she asked his father to take her to a government school in her native village about 30 km from Bhopal. There she interacted with the students and took a session for the students on the “Clean India” programme.

Father of Advait Kainal expressed his gratitude to USM for the change he has seen in his son. His son has become very sensitive to the poor and the needy people. Occasionally he visits the orphanage and interacts with the children and makes them happy. He has drastically reduced his expenses. He refuses to go to hotel for eating food, as it is very expensive. Even on his birthday, he did not go hotel for a meal as desired by his parents.

Sanjeev Khare, father of Kritika Khare, expressed his appreciation to USM for the changes that have taken place in his daughter. His daughter has become very careful in using electricity, water and other resources. She even reminds the family members when they fail to switch off the light. She has learned how to read the movies in view of grasping the message of the movies. Development of positive thinking is another important change that he has observed in her daughter.

A boy who had participated in the training narrated an incident that happened in the school. A classmate’s tiffin box fell down and the food items were strewn on the floor. He asked the classmate to clean the floor. His classmate refused to clean the floor. Then he and his friend together cleaned the floor. Seeing it, the other boy felt ashamed and apologised.

The students narrated many other small, but inspiring incidents from their lives. The main reason for the changes in the students is the practice of Five Paths for Self Transformation taught by USM. They are as follows.

Five Paths for Personal Transformation

1.   Pray daily for peace and forgiveness according to one’s own religious practices: peace in oneself, in the family, in the nation and the whole world. Almost all children who participated in the training are praying for peace everyday without fail. As a result they experience peace in themselves.

2.   Do a good deed a day without any selfish motive for the welfare of the humanity. The good deeds done by the students are the result of practicing this path.

3.   Skip a meal a week to express solidarity with the millions of hungry people in the world and to help some of them through the money thus saved. Two children said that they are skipping a meal once a week. Others, instead of skipping the full meal, give up some favourable items, especially junk food. Parents of 12 students said that their children substantially reduced eating junk food.

4.   Honour parents, grandparents, teachers and all human beings. The attitude of the students towards domestic servants has drastically changed. They have started addressing them “uncle” and “aunty”. Increased sensitivity of the students towards the poor is the result of practising this path.

5.   Respect the earth and its resources. One of the action plans prepared by the students at the end of the training is to make their school plastic free. During the meeting on 28th, one of the students appealed to the principal to reduce the use of plastic in the school canteen.