KPAI Blood Testing Day at Sadhana school.
-why i joined
-how I feel as a team member
-sessions in general.
-being out in the field
KPAI Blood Testing Day at Sadhana school.
-why i joined
-how I feel as a team member
-sessions in general.
-being out in the field
Session 1: 4th October, 2017
Today marks the first Kriya session of the year, we have collectively put a lot of planning and thought into our entire program. We have made a lot of changes, the major one being that we will be having slightly older girls, who mostly study and live in the college in Pune city. Who are quite different from the previous group in many ways.
One major change that I noticed between this group of women and the one we had last year, is that they speak much more English. Which makes communication much easier, but on the whole, I have already started to rely more on verbal language especially in English, throwing all the non-verbal communication skills, I worked hard to acquire last year, out of the window.
Furthermore, this session was mostly introductory, we played a variety of bonding games and introduced the girls to the different activities available. In swimming, I got paired up with my buddy called Kajal. I was very happy to have her in my very first session because she is very friendly and warm, she also laughs a lot which is quite reassuring. We talked a bit about her major in college which has to do with botanics, I was quite impressed, especially after talking to all the other girls who were also majoring in some sort of science and spoke passionately about their subject choice.
All in all, I am quite excited for what this year will bring. The girls are generally more enthusiastic about Kriya and acquiring all these different skills. They also seem to have had more exposure in sports which accounts for their higher fitness levels. I also really look forward to what I will learn from them this year.
Session 3: 25th October, 2017
We are 3 weeks in, and I am at a loss for words to describe how great the sessions have been so far. Kriya Shivaji’s Swimming sessions have always been the highlight of my week, but there is an air of enthusiasm about this group that excites me even more.
Working with Kajal has been a delight, although she was scared and a bit tense during the first two sessions she is slowly gaining her confidence in the water. She is no longer holding my arm or shoulder as she floats, she seems more calm and relaxed in the water.
I am very proud to say that she has improved her kicking significantly, as she acquired the correct kicking technique. All she needs to work on is her stamina as she gets tired very quickly, which is something that she will be able to improve on through Kriya Fitness.
The major takeaway for me from this particular session is that sometimes people need a little bit of encouragement and for their accomplishments to be recognized. Whether this is in the form of verbal praise or a high-five, I believe that it goes a long way in uplifting somebody, especially when learning a new skill in a completely new setting (such as the swimming pool) allowing themselves to be vulnerable. I had to work on my tone of voice, and my patience a lot ever since I first joined Kriya. I think that I have grown significantly in that respect. I’m looking forward to the next few sessions!
Session 5: 16th November, 2017
For this session, I had Pratiksha as a buddy. It was a thrill working with her. She is a beginner swimmer, but the one quality about her that I noticed and appreciated was her willingness to try again, perseverance. The skill that she was having the most trouble mastering was that of staying afloat as she kicked. It was mostly to do with the fact that once she gains a semblance of control in the water, she begins to panic, loses balance and begins to sink. Another possible reason may be because she lacks core strength, which I hope that she will be able to focus on more intensely in fitness.
I have to say that I was disappointed to see that even after all the encouragement, and trials she couldn’t do the simple act of staying afloat. I struggled with teaching her this skill, because I hardly remember having any difficulties with it when I learned how to swim which was more than 8 years ago. It was definitely a wake up call for me to look for secondary sources of information, in order to improve the way I teach.
I also learned a great deal about empathy, as it was hard to resonate with her experience because I did not quite think about this particular skill. I tried my best with the help of Mathilde to break down the different steps, and she showed significant improvement, as she was able to kick for about 3.5 metres without my support. Our next goal is to kick for the whole length of the swimming pool. I have also decided to individualize my approach, and structure my lessons accordingly to cater to her unique strengths and weaknesses. I am excited for the next session!
Another challenge that I experienced during this session was in communication, because she was one of the few girls who understood very little English. Which meant going back to my non-verbal communication skills and for the most part relying on them to show her how to perform different techniques.
“I don’t believe in charity, I believe in solidarity. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people.” -Eduardo Galeano
I do not think that this was a meaningful experience for me because I hadn’t made the effort to go back and visit my family after the first home stay, so it was much like having to recreate connections. Also, it was a very short visit which made me feel like I was only doing it to check one other box on my Triveni requirements.
I had to deal with being an outsider in the first home stay and every other day that I’ve spent in India when I can’t quite connect with people. Either due to a language barrier or them just looking down at me for reasons that I cannot yet put into words. Which has raised questions about empathy and why it’s so important? We are entirely different human beings, with different experiences and roads to travel, yet we insist on reaching some sort of understanding. I remember this quote I read in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, “You never really know a person until you step into his skin and walk around it.” I may never be able to understand what it means to be an Indian living in India, or an Indian villager in Mulshi valley but that’s okay because it’s this gap that has given me a greater sense of awareness about who I am.
It is these sort of interactions that help me realize and confirm my identity, and I think that’s important.
However, this is not say that I did not enjoy or in the very least make an effort in connecting with other inhabitants of Mulshi valley apart from MUWCI. This is something that I tried to do in Kriya in which I made an effort to understand the local context through Kriya Iron where I had to do significant research about the causes and existing initiatives in combating iron-deficiency related anemia; as well as through Kriya Shivaji’s swimming in which I joined Marathi for beginners so that I could at least try to understand the language. There were moments of success in which I felt a sense of understanding with some of the Kriya girls, these moments are rare yet treasured because I realize that to them I’m the outsider. I should be making an even greater effort to connect with the local community, because there’s just so much that I can learn.
“It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen” -Scott Belsky
When I signed up for this trip I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I wanted a chance to do something new. The proposal said we were going to learn how to 3D print and build a drone. So I thought, oh wow, I probably won’t get this opportunity again for a long time so why not. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to use the high-tech but I found out that if you take the time to learn, and when you have good teachers like we did at the makers space called Workbench Projects, you can do anything.
I worked on building the drone, laser cutting and woodworking (in which I built an adjustable bookshelf for personal use). I feel like I made the most of this opportunity because it made me think about my career options. I have always felt inclined to do something within the field of health and that I wouldn’t interact with too much technology but I think this was a chance to get in sync with the rest of the world because we’re headed towards a world where technology will be present in just about every facet of human life.
Apart from the actual projects I felt that I made everlasting friendships with so many people because we had to work together in order for anything to work. There’s was always somebody you could learn from and often somebody you could teach. This was a life-changing experience and I would do it over and over again.
For a more holistic view of the experience open the doc below:
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” -John Muir
I signed up for the fort hike because I wanted to challenge myself and somehow experience a distinct part of Indian history. I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off because I’m not accustomed to climbing up and down steep paths, whilst trying not to plummet to my death. But I received a lot of support from facilitators and some of the students.
I must highlight that if it wasn’t for my peers I probably wouldn’t have survived a great part of the trek because I have a fear of heights (that I am trying to overcome) and they helped me to physically and mentally get through it. When we had to go down a steeper path than the one we initially used, the facilitators held my hand for the parts that I couldn’t even begin to see myself getting past alive.
I think the planning was quite effective in that we had enough food so we didn’t starve, and we had more than enough water to get through the hike. However, I think we should’ve thought about how long some of the vegetables could last in the scorching hot sun because we had over a kilo of tomatoes and half of them were rotten the following day.
In addition, I didn’t feel like everyone really got the sense of the history of the place. I know that it was ruled by Shivaji and nobody ever got past it but I wanted to know more than that. I wanted to know what in particular about the fort made it so unique and unbeatable. I also wanted to know about the cultural significance of this fort even today.
In some ways the fort hike wasn’t nothing more than a group of outdoor kids out for some adventure and some adrenaline. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing because it enabled me to see my strengths in a whole new light, I conquered and I persevered even when I didn’t think I could keep walking something inside me pushed me forward.
I also got to bond with a lot of my peers a lot better which made me reflect on reasons why this sort of bonding wasn’t possible on campus. It was probably because we were in the middle of nowhere with no WiFi, all we had was each other.
This trek in big ways made me realize that there is so much more to people than what appears on the surface, that I should let people be who they are and appreciate who they are because that’s all that takes for people to be comfortable around you. For people to be happy. I think that as UWC students we’re constantly pushed to do more, to be more, to save the world, that we forget to save each other. We forget to care.
Hence, one of my goals for the rest of this term is to find opportunities to care about the people around me including my schoolmates, faculty, staff, even the locals from villages close by.
All in all, it was a challenging experience which helped me realize that I am stronger than I think and that I can handle what life throws at me.
Leadership and Women Empowerment Conference With SOLA and Kriya Girls
“One of the most important leadership lessons is realizing that you’re not the most important or the most intelligent person in the room at all times.”
SOLA stands for School of Leadership, Afghanistan, and it is a private boarding school for Afghan girls that is committed to educating and empowering girls from different provinces within Afghanistan. Their mission is to use education as a tool that promotes critical thinking, a sense of purpose, and respect for self and others. Some of the girls happened to be in India for a hands-on learning experience in various parts of India including Pune. The reason why there needs to be a school of this sort just for girls is due to the current situation in Afghanistan where the girl child doesn’t have access to equal rights to education compared to the boy child; as well as the fact that girls and women are not to engage in sports like cycling, or just jogging on the street let alone big team sports. As a member of Kriya I volunteered to be part of the group that lead the discussion because I felt like there was so much that I could not only transfer to the girls but so much that I could learn from them too.
Before the deeply emotional discussions we had a chance to get to know each other through name games and other icebreakers. I lead the ‘boldest ambition’ discussion in which the girls mingled and got a chance in groups to talk about their dreams, long-term or short-term goals etc. The reason why I decided this would be a good activity was because most times we do not get the chance to talk about our dreams, to think big, to feel like you are in a safe space where you won’t be judged or thought badly off just because you dream big. This was in fact an opportunity for all of us to realize our dreams and be one step closer to actually putting them into action. I felt like I grew a lot from this discussion because I realized that at the core no matter where you’re from, what language you speak, the kind of opportunities that you’ve had access to, we’re all human and we all have dreams and passions and hope for a better tomorrow. I also learned the importance of listening because there is so so much that you can learn from other people. When you speak you’re in fact just reciting what you already know but listening is a learning experience. And as I listened I realized just how privileged I am to be at MUWCI where I have access to so many opportunities, where nothing is out of reach if I push hard enough. The girls have probably had more obstacles in their lives than I had but their ambitions and dreams were so bold and inspiring that it’s put me to the task of doing something worthwhile with my life.
The discussion that followed the games, icebreakers and small activities was centered on gender disparities, women empowerment and developing a friendship with people from a part of the world that’s been looked down upon by many. The girls from Afghanistan helped me clear out the misconceptions I had had about the country because prior to, I thought it was a conflict zone, with no freedoms whatsoever but the SOLA girls pointed that this is in fact not always the case that Afghanistan has so much more to offer like the food, the historical buildings and the people. The girls were actually quite proud to be from Afghanistan and I was at utter awe. This made me realize that the world isn’t just black or white, that binaries do not exist, that even though we don’t want to admit it we’re all living in this grey area, that life itself is one big grey zone. However, they also said that the bad parts do exist like culturally imposed gender inequality, the presence of conflict zones due to Taliban rule and other gross factors. From this discussion I realized how adaptable human beings are, that you can live through the worst scenarios just by changing the way you perceive the world. By saying, okay, this is what’s on my plate, it’s a lot for one person to take but I’m going to work with what I have and with other people to make the best of it.
There was also a discussion on privilege and womanhood that really struck me because people gave examples of situations when they felt like they were put down simply due to the fact that they were born female and are girls or women. That this sort of inequality exists in so many facets of human life that it can put you down and make you feel that you aren’t as capable as your male counterparts. This was a safe space where we could talk about the things that hurt us, the things that uplifted us, the people who supported us despite society, and generally just what it means to be a woman in various contexts. Through this discussion I realized that I am not alone, that there are people out there echoing my very thoughts, and more so opened my eyes to the fact that this is probably something that so many girls and women around the world don’t have access to. And I thought that because I probably cannot get to the whole world, I could start at home. Start with my local context by creating spaces like this for girls and women to realize that they are just as capable as boys and men, and that they should start taking ownership of their rights because in this world if you don’t speak up and take your rightful place you will get left behind.
It was a really great session and I’m so proud of how much I’ve grown in a span of about 5 hours.
Session 1: Swimming/19th Jan/2017
This was Rajita’s first session. In the beginning she seemed scared, so she held our hands as we did the warm up exercises. We supported her neck and lower thigh as she learned how to float. She was quite tense at the beginning but after a few tries she began to relax. However we need to work on her kicking and her lower body strength. Otherwise she was a delight!
Session 2: Swimming/25th Jan/2017
My second session was with Priyanka who is a more advanced swimmer having been here for an entire term so she was confident in water but I found that she needs to work on her lower body strength as well as cardio (because she got tired really fast). I should’ve asked her if she had had anything to eat prior to the session as this may have accounted for her fatigue. I think working with Priyanka really opened my eyes to the challenges and rewards that come with trying to teach somebody how to swim. There were moments when I froze, unable to think of how best to assist her because I wasn’t very experienced but I decided to put myself in her shoes and try as best as I could to imagine what difficulties she may have been facing with the exercises. This in turn made it easier for me to assess when and how I was to help her. I think that if she works on strengthening her lower body she will find it so much easier to get through the sessions.
Session 3: Swimming/1st Feb/2017
31st Jan- This is when we sat together during stream meeting and came up with this plan, this is only possible through group reflection in which we discuss our buddy’s strengths and weaknesses creating the plan accordingly and we type it out on the project site known as base-camp. I learned a lot about how to plan a session.
Session 6: Swimming/15th Feb/2017
I had this session with Mohini, she’s a beginner and this was her 2nd session. She seemed to enjoy herself but she is still struggling with getting comfortable in the water. I noticed this when I was teaching her how to float. I usually do this activity first, so as to get the swimmer comfortable and relaxed in the water, because I believe that like a trust test, when the swimmer realizes that the water can carry her weight if she lets it then she wan’t sink or drown. I hold her neck and mid-back firmly at the beginning, moving her around the pool and slowly loosen my grip when she begins to get comfortable.
However, the minute I let go she lost focus, her head propped up which meant that the rest of her body would sink. The reason I talk about this in such great length and depth is because it was the major problem and the most rudimentary. I then decided to then do breathing exercises underwater, as a way to show her that the water isn’t her enemy and she can stay under for a while and go back up to breathe again. I held her hands as we jumped under, breathing out through our nose and after six counts going back up. I think she had no difficulty doing this which meant that she wasn’t necessarily scared of the water but rather that she was rather frightened about losing control, as she lied on her back when she floated.
Moreover, she’s very good at kicking and can sustain it for long periods of time, as we did two full laps of kicking with the kick-board and although she got tired every now and then she did quite well for a beginner. Another aspect which I believe we need to work on is her core. When we did the out of swimming pool exercises she couldn’t do a simple sit up, and required support to help her get back up and hug her knees. All in all, I think she needs to work on her stamina and her core, by eating protein-rich foods as well as carbohydrates/fats for energy; and I will continue to work on her core during the sessions through various ab and back workouts.
All in all, I really enjoyed this session with Mohini because I have been learning Marathi and I could ask her about her country, whether the water was too cold, her age, where she goes to school. I feel like I really managed to build a relationship with her and am looking forward to the next sessions that will incorporate a Mohini-oriented plan that will target her weaknesses and elevate her strengths.