PAUSE, REWIND, BREATHE THEN REPEAT

By – Shayaree Chanda- 2037130

Life is a hustle, and everyone is working hard to make it through. Not one minute is allowed to go waste. As they say, time is money and time wasted is money wasted. With everyone trying to catch up and hold on, we tend to forget something equally important, i.e., to slow down and take rest. That is because slowing down to take some rest means a certain amount of time wasted and if time is wasted you compromise on your future and your goals which is not something you want to do right now.

We had tonnes of things to do, and we found ways to keep going about with our everyday life. But when the pandemic hit, we got stuck with the most challenging thought- What will we do with this abundance of time? Going out was fearful because a tiny microorganism which is not even visible is outdoors while tremendous anxiety is indoors. The changes happening all across the world is vast and scary. But the thing happening inside is scarier. Weirdly enough, we got the time to slow down and introspect, but the last thing we did was introspection.

The pandemic has killed all our lives outdoors and has confined us to the four walls of our house. What is worse? Most of us live in the concrete jungle we call cities with the number of trees going down every day, and now we are stuck in the middle of a pandemic where we cannot even go out. The beautiful nature is outside, and we are stuck inside.

Have you ever heard of something called the Nature Deficit Disorder? It’s the idea that we humans, especially kids, are spending less time outdoors, which could, in turn, cause a drastic number of behavioural problems. Yes, it does sound scary, and yes, this pandemic could be harmful if we stay indoors too. When Prayatna created this session called Vyaan, these might have been the thinking points. It was time to press the pause button.

The organisers made sure that we are ready for this session. They asked us to click a picture of the nearest electronic device and write the first word that comes to our mind when we hear the words ‘electronic device’. The same was done again, but this time it was with plants. At the end of the session, we had an idea about why  all the continuous messaging was happening in the Whatsapp group made for the event. Just keep in mind that, sometimes the solution to a problem is right in front of your eyes, but you fail to identify it.

It was an hour-long session that began with the note that everyone must have the forest app on their phones and must have a bottle filled with water so that we drink water during the session. Nobody knew what was going to happen. Shahana,  our event coordinator/host made sure we do not know about the details in advance and wanted to ensure that the session does not come off as too preachy. As all of us were pumped up already in the WhatsApp group, we were eager to know what will happen next. She made sure to ask a lot of questions so that we would find the answers that would help us gain insight on what we were supposed to learn that day. The solutions are unique to all of us you see as there are some questions with one single answer.

We started by checking our digital well-being, a feature which can be downloaded as an app or can be preinstalled on phones, to tell us how much time we spent with our screens. I was too ashamed to see the number of hours I spent on my phone with twitter being the most used app! We realised how much time we waste and as mentioned before, time wasted is money wasted. But why do we end up wasting so much time on social media?

Weirdly enough we were asked to take the Funeral Test. We had to think about how we wanted the people around us to react when they arrived at our funeral and what is/are the thing/s that we want them to remember about us. It was a scary thing to think, about yourself dying and imagining how others would think of you or react to you. But beyond that, the answer is quite simple and within ourselves. Then there was the question about last time we cried. Again another question that takes a total dive into our soul, sometimes bringing out the dark thoughts we tend to forget or pretend to forget while we are busy leading our lives.

As expected, many people were able to pour their hearts out through the google meet platform while others chose to keep it within themselves. She asked us what stresses us out as well as what is stopping us from achieving our goals? These questions came one by one leading to a meaningful discussion as to how we have become lazy and addicted to social media. Or we are too scared and stressed about our future that even a tiny CIA could give us extreme anxiety. Interestingly these were the first two steps to introspection, but during the session we were not aware of that.

We came to a point where we were asked to write a letter to our younger self (10-15 years old self) as we are from the future, we will know what happens now. Though we were not able to write a full-fledged letter, we wrote down enough points to tell our younger self about their future life. Memories that we cherish or hate floods our minds. Isn’t it obvious we would just stop ourselves from the challenging future that is ahead of us, warn them about every mishap that we might do, or not get scared and worked up and give ourselves hope that time is difficult now but in future we will just be okay?

 Finally, we came to the most exciting part, which is part of the introduction to the Forest App. It is an app that helps us reduce our screen time by planting a tree every time we tell the app that we do not want to use the screen for the mentioned number of hours/minutes. The app produces a virtual sapling which is our time, and it grows as we keep our phones unused during that time. And if we still use our phone then, the plant starts to die. After we earn our virtual coins for building gardens and forests, we tend to spend them. And when we do so, this organisation plants a plant with our name somewhere in the world. We indeed are not that far from nature; we just need to find a way to get closer to it.

We did this for 3 minutes, where we just lay down and listened to the sounds around us away from the electronic devices. We did nothing at all. It was peaceful, and with this, we ended the process of introspection. All we did was to answer the questions and follow instructions. Still, we were observing our situation, analysing it and finally communicating with ourselves to fix the problem or improve on it therefore introspecting.

 Everyone has their way of introspection, and as I have mentioned before, sometimes, the solution is in front of our eyes. This time it was within ourselves. We tend to waste our time doing worthless things like scrolling through our Instagram feed or worrying about simple things. It is the guilt we have that makes us think that if we are doing nothing, we are wasting our time. This session proves us wrong and tells us that doing nothing can be productive too, significantly better than doing something that has little or no value in the long run just to pass our time. It is indeed time for us to pause, rewind, breathe then repeat and this session of Vyaan taught us how to do so.


Valedictory 2019- 2020

As another fruitful year came to an end on 6th March 2020, it was time for time to replenish the fruits bared and celebrate new seedlings. A bittersweet day marking the end of CSA’s academic year was finally here. The ground floor of Central Block buzzed with activity and excited murmurs coming from the Seminar Hall. The event began with presentations made by the various leaders of the year 2019-20 who outlined not just what their wing and the organization achieved through the year, but also covered all the progress made along with the obstacles they encountered.

Dr. Victor Paul, Team Leader, CSA,  addressed the volunteers with the key note address by sharing his experience of being a volunteer in his college days, he also shared that the learning that we gain during volunteerism activities mold our lives too.  Following this, Scholarship certificates were handed over to chosen students by the Director, Prof. Phinu Jose

Fr. Rinoj, Principal, Christ College, Malur campus then took the opportunity to unveil CSA’s annual magazine ‘We Care’ and called forward the students involved in this project. This was followed by his speech that appreciated the volunteers’ efforts and expressed his high expectations for our future endeavors.

CSAs’ Director Phinu Jose bid the third years farewell and welcomed the new leaders. By sharing her experiences as a part of this organization, she conveyed the value of the volunteers and the work we do.

As the ceremony was held on the last day of Malur’s exposure camp at CHRIST (Deemed to be University), students from Christ College, Malur gave feedback and thanked the CSA team for their orientation and support. They narrated some of their experiences, they had in the last two days that they spent with the CSA volunteers and said that they hoped to set up an organization just as good as the one they witnessed here.

The leaders of 2019-20 were ordained with certificates for their contributions to CSA. Then came the highlight of the event, when current leaders signed off and gracefully handed over their positions to the first year’s chosen for the task. The leaders also felt the need to recognize volunteers that made exceptional contributions to their wings and CSA through special mentions.

Exposure camp for Volunteers, Christ College, Malur

The second rural exposure camp of the year 2019-2020 was held in Malur from 24 January  to 26 January 2020 for 53 Volunteers of CSA. This camp was not only aimed at giving an exquisite exposure to the volunteers but  also to initiate CSA in Christ College, Malur. Established in 2015, Christ College Malur invited the student body of CSA from Bangalore Central Campus of CHRIST (Deemed to be University) in order to launch CSA at their college as well..

Volunteers left for Malur on the morning of 24th January with a spirit of enthusiasm, excitement and social action. Since it was the last camp of the academic year, as well as the last camp for third-year students, a plethora of emotions could be felt throughout the two-hour journey. The student body from Christ College, Malur welcomed the volunteers with open arms and gratitude..

The first day began with a warm lunch. Post that, volunteers moved to their rooms assigned according to their respective wings for orientation purposes. Around 30 students from Christ College attended the orientation sessions. Four wings of CSA : Prayatna, Drishti, Activity Centre and Media and Communication along with Project Maatram elaborated upon their work in order to give a detailed insight to the volunteers from Malur. Activity Center not only explained the aim and working model but also included the volunteers in a rather ethereal Banana Dance! This helped in breaking the ice amongst the volunteers. On the other hand, Dristhi shed light upon street-theatre as a catalyst for social change and taught some of their jingles to the volunteers. Similarly Media and Communication, after elaborating upon their work, gave the cameras to the Malur volunteers and taught them how to shoot photos, videos and write a report. Using the same, an instant after-movie was presented which contained the footage shot by Malur volunteers only. Prayatna explained the importance of creating awareness on waste management and other civic issues to the volunteers.

A common orientation was held in the presence of Fr. Rinoj James in which emphasis was put upon the Activity Centre and Child Sponsorship Program. In the afternoon, to create a lighter environment, a session of ‘human-rock-paper-scissor’ was played by the students. This not only helped in breaking the ice but also helped in spreading the importance of teamwork and coordination.

On the second day, volunteers (including the Malur volunteers) gathered for a morning exercise session. After that, they were divided into two teams – survey and painting. The survey team covered two locations in Malur to gather data about the children of the village in order to start the Sponsorship Program. Other half of the day witnessed dust, paint and smiles as the volunteers cleaned, scraped and painted a government school in Aalambadi.

On the third day, volunteers prepared themselves for an eventful day. Volunteers celebrated Republic Day with the kids of the school in their newly painted world. Children welcomed the volunteers with a parade initiated post flag hoisting which went around the surrounding places with slogans like “Bharat Maata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram”. Children celebrated the day with colourful performances like dance, song and speech. The CSA volunteers thanked the Malur volunteers and the children with their scintillating dance performances.

As the camp came to an end, reflections about the camp were made by the volunteers. Every volunteer learnt something new from this collaborative camp. From the spirit of social action to a little bit Kannada – every individual took something back home with them. To conclude the camp, M&C presented an exquisite recap in their aftermovie, which was wholly made by the Malur volunteers. Father Rinoj James thanked the volunteers and expressed his happiness over the camp. The camp concluded as the burning sun went down with the journey back

Anikethana- Celebrating 20 years of Centre for Social Action

Day 1- 8th December, 2019

Under the open wide sky, stars of fairy lights were out shined by the members of alumni on the occasion of alumni fellowship dinner as a part of Anikethana. The celebration of CSA’s 20 year anniversary brought along with it an element of nostalgia as CSA alumni took a step into the Anikethana event. Beginning with an ice-breaking session, the alumni were then seated and engaged in a few games. The happy gathering of former volunteers then proceeded to cut a cake and posed for a group picture.

Prof. Johny Joseph, former Director of CSA, gave a speech reminiscing about CSA’s best moments and his experiences of working with the student volunteers . Fr. Joseph CC, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor addressed and congratulated the gathering for reuniting and for their magnanimous contribution as volunteers.

The alumni played a fun-game of tug-of-war with the current volunteers in which the current volunteers gave the evidence of their enthusiasm quite victoriously.  As a representative of the alumni family, Mr. Jaikumar appreciated all the volunteers for their strength, hard work, and enthusiasm.

A warm vote of thanks was given by the CSA Director Prof. Phinu Jose and the alumni were presented with photo frames and notes prepared by the volunteers. A video that compiled some of CSA’s best moments was then screened and the event concluded with a joyous dinner.

Day 2– 9th December 2019

To celebrate the 20 years of Centre for Social Action, Anikehana was organised in the Main Auditorium to be witnessed by guests and Christies. The golden morning began with filling up of seats by the audience. An inaugural dance followed by the auspicious lamp lighting welcomed the audience to the event. Director Prof. Phinu Jose gave words of welcome and facilitated the alumni representative Mr Jaikumar. The Chief Guest for the day was Mr. Rajesh Tandon, Practitioner of Participatory Research and Development, graced the occasion with his warm words of motivation on the importance of social responsibility in higher education and its vital role as a change agent.

Release of the Souvenir and “Book of Case Studies”

To pay homage to the organisation, the much awaited CSA Souvenir was released. Followed by the release of the “Book of Case Studies” by the honorable Vice-Chancellor.  As a vote of gratitude facilitators from the Bastar project area performed a folk dance. This was followed by a vote of thanks by Dr. Victor Paul, Team Lead, CSA.

The panel discussion on ‘Innovation and sustainability’ became the highlight of the event which not only witnessed an informative discussion amongst the panellists but also enthusiastic participation from the audience members. The panel consisted of Dr. Kshitij Urs, Senior Advisor – Program Development at India Foundation for Humanistic Development Ms.  Nalini Sekhar,  co-founded Hasiru Dala (Green Force), Ms. Rema Kumar, Dr. O. P.  Goel, Head- Bosch India Foundation, CSR & Skill Developmen and Mr. Abhishek Ranjan, Director, Sustainability Brillio Global. The event concluded in smiles of knowledge, growth and future.

“I’m drawing the tiger, my favorite animal, because it’s the only one prancing in the wide jungle with no fear. I want to be like a tiger – fearless.”

A 7-year old child from one of our project areas, maintaining his unflinching attention towards his drawing, says, “I’m drawing the tiger, my favorite animal, because it’s the only one prancing in the wide jungle with no fear. I want to be like a tiger – fearless.”  Milan 2019 aimed at helping our project area children find their voice through different art forms and workshops, and so, post lunch, the off-stage events took place. Each event creatively focused on teaching values to every child – through Rangoli, they played with colours to depict Christmas through which the children learnt the importance of teamwork. In Clay Art, they developed a new perspective to look at nature. In ‘Pick and Speak’, with topics like favourite subject, teachers and dreams. The children pierced through the audience with their bold words in their Recitation event, and in the Colouring event they filled colours in the shapes given to them. Informative workshops on waste management, rights and judiciary, and origami were also conducted by the University students. 

After a short break, the children had a theatre workshop organised by 2 student production teams – Last Minute Productions and Kahale, from the Department of Commerce. The kids participated in fun-filled activities and were given a task to come up with their own stories. The children, through fun and teamwork, learned about a new expressive art form. Throughout the afternoon, our children were part of these many creative events organized by their own ‘Annas’ and ‘Akkas’. The off-stage events helped the kids express their views with creativity and passion. After all, art is what moves the world. After all, as Pablo Picasso aptly pointed out, “Every child is an artist”.

“Dance like nobody’s watching, sing like nobody’s listening.” After the off-stage events were completed, the kids and volunteers gathered in the Dharmaram Auditorium and the on-stage events kickstarted with an outstanding dance performance by the students from Subhash Nagar, who uplifted everyone’s spirits with their magenta dresses and intricate steps. This opening performance was followed by the release of the Milan Trailer, which excited the kids with the melodic theme song of Milan.

This was followed by a musical performance by all the project areas, themed on friendship, with Vriddhi presenting a poster saying “Few Relations On Earth Never Die”. After days and months of volunteering for Milan, and interacting with fellow volunteers from other campuses, this quote really touched a nerve. Next in line was the theatrical display by all the project areas on the theme of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. While 3D used reverse psychology to portray the need to sensitize people regarding the importance of Swachh Bharat, Hoskote presented a dystopian scenario where Gandhi ji had travelled forward in time, only to witness India’s current condition.

Next up, were the dance performances by all the project areas – the kids put up a commendable show, grooving to some foot-tapping numbers. The special dance performance by facilitators from the Bastar project was mind-blowing. Last but not least, were the Mime performances, on the theme of Hygiene and Environment. The kids made a compelling case about how the educated class is ignorantly wasting the resources, which can lead to adverse effects on the environment.

 The events ended on a very positive note, with the kids and volunteers understanding the need to bring out a change in the world which cries out to be preserved for a generation yet to witness its beauty.

-By, Shravanthika Sivasankar, Kishnika Dhawan and Vani Ambardar 

Carnival 2019

The smell of popcorn wafted through the air as we made our entry through the gates of Milan. The energy of the kids was palpable and sunny smiles surrounded the venue as they entered singing ‘fire in the mountain’. Kids from Bagalkot, Vriddhi and 3D got an experience of VR (Virtual Reality) gaming, set up by Smaaash, while kids from Tilak Nagar, Subhash Nagar, and Project Pragathi started off with the other exciting carnival activities set up for them.  The sleep-drawing game, which required the children to put on a blindfold and draw, was the most loved game of the children. Boys, in particular, enjoyed the small football session conducted by the volunteers. Other games and stalls included “Can the Can”, “Basket Toss” and “Temporary Tattoos”.  

The Carnival came alive when volunteers dress up as The Joker, Mickey Mouse, and Santa Claus to celebrate with the children. High-fives were shared and grins turned to broad smiles, as they passed by. After an hour of fun-filled games and swimming through the vibrant carnival spirit, the project area kids along with their facilitators quenched their thirst with some refreshing tender coconut water and ate some chocolates. Moreover, other eatables like hot and salted popcorn and mouth-watering cotton candy really helped them get a carnival experience at CHRIST. “Though we did not play as many games, we had fun in everything we took part in. Moreover, it’s a heartwarming feeling to see our kids have the time of their lives. We were treated to popcorn, candy floss, and sweet tender coconut water, which was a bonus to us!” said one of the project area facilitators. 

The children, facilitators and volunteers made memories through the laughs and smiles. In painting their faces, they also painted their lives in bright shades of fun and joy.

By, DIshti Kundra and Ritika Mukherjee

Milan Sports -2019

“Left, left, left right left”, marched the young flag-bearer in perfect sync, as they set the stage for a great second day of Milan 2019. Sports Day started with a welcome speech by Smt. Panneer Selvi, Project Coordinator, Unnathi. The seeds of a competitive spirit are sown on the field. Strategy, sweat and strength are all put to the test on that field, which becomes an exquisite learning platform. This platform lets children experiment at the right age and grow with the same spirit. Starting with individual sports events, children were called to respective venues as per their slots. As the children tried to ‘Balance the Book’ on their heads, their hesitant smiles slowly developed into confidence. In Three-Legged Race, children learned the value of co-opetition, that is, mutual benefit through cooperation. A spirit of joy filled the ground with events like Sack Race, Pass the Hurdle, Reverse Race, Run with Balloon and Obstacle Race. Shifting to a serious atmosphere, the day witnessed Relay Race and Sprint as well. In Long Jump and Shot Put, kids not only learnt something new, but performed with flying colours. “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” The team events marked the spirit of sportsmanship and teamwork, as all the kids tried to present their talents in the best possible manner.  Dog-and-Bone, an interesting epitome of strategy, marked the beginning of the team games. This was followed by Kho-Kho. Every team was a diverse bunch – this gave the kids an understanding of team spirit despite having come from different project areas. Hoola Hoops tested the kids’ patience and balance, wherein they were supposed to balance the hoops for as long as they could. The kids were then divided into teams for the energetic game of Tug-of- War, which taught them that the strength of a team is what takes it past all adversities. A surprise game of Tug-of-War for the volunteers was conducted too. This gave the volunteers an opportunity to use their strength and prove their might. Sports day, hence concluded as a perfect way of challenging one’s strength and going beyond possibilities to understand what one’s worth.  With that, Sports Day, and with it, Milan, was concluded in the best possible way – by coming together and celebrating our strengths.

Written by, Kishnika Dhawan and Vani Ambardar

Let’s play a Game

Let’s play a game. Close your eyes and think about the first thing that crosses your mind as you think about your future. Be honest and read the next paragraph after you have done that. Open your eyes. Congratulations, you have learned honesty, and something new about yourself today! If this sounds childish, you’ re right – because it is. In a dynamic world, children are developing differently as well. They are often termed as a ‘smarter generation’ or a ‘digital generation’ because of the context they live in. The evolution of the pattern of learning needs to pace up to meet the pace of the current generation.
Going by the words of renowned psychologist Lev Vygotsky, ” In the play, a child is always above his average age, above his daily behavior, in play, it’s as though he were a head taller than himself.” It curates a path for children to discover and make sense of their environment, allowing them to develop cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically. When adults look at the perks of play in a child’s life, their sight revolves around physical fitness only. However, indoor and outdoor games have been associated with different teachings of life and curriculum. Research has shown that outdoor play encourages children to mature at a considerably faster rate, than those children who play indoors. This results in better language development and happier and more sociable children. Learning through play can be challenging and can be viewed sceptically due to the predominance of an unconventional learning system. Apart from the curriculum, adding games and activities gives autonomy to the children and also gives the teachers an exclusive
medium to channelize their teachings through simpler ways. In this way, children can develop greater self-learning and problem-solving skills. The play also allows learners to discover new interactive methods of working towards achieving goals in today’s developing the world. Get a head-start on life and play now!

Milan Quotes

Facilitators

“We liked the carnival games, especially “Can the Can” and “Sleep drawing.”

-Ms. Anu and Ms. Ruby, facilitators, Vriddhi. 

“The energy of the kids is amazing. Kids are participating so actively in everything. Milan helps bring out their talent.” 

-Ms. Meghala, Project 3D.

Faculty

“Milan was a success because we established a system of constant communication with the faculty, facilitators, project officers and volunteers to plan out the activities.”

-Jino Joy, Project Officer, CSA 

It’s maddening and there’s a merriment in all the madness. It’s both exhilarating and exciting. It is also really enriching for the volunteers, as it allows them to know who we are working with. It is the coming together of all the volunteers of CSA.”

Mrs. Phinu Jose, Director, CSA 

From Children

“The volunteers looked after us so well. They slept very little during the night because they made sure that all of us slept first. They even played songs for us.”

Nitin, Participant from Tilaknagar

“I liked Milan very much, especially dancing on the stage and talking to the annas and akkas.”

Hanumant, Bagalkot participant.

“The university ground is my favourite place here and I really enjoyed all the sports activities. Playing “Can the Can” at the carnival stall was also a lot of fun.”

Ammu, Vriddhi participant

On Stage events

“Dance like nobody’s watching, sing like nobody’s listening.” After the kids and volunteers gathered in the Dharmaram Auditorium, on-stage events kick started with an outstanding dance performance by the students from Subhash Nagar, who uplifted everyone’s spirits with their magenta dresses and intricate steps. This opening performance was followed by the release of the Milan Trailer, which excited the kids with the melodic theme song of Milan. This was followed by a musical performance by all the project areas, themed on friendship, with Vriddhi presenting a poster saying “Few Relations On Earth Never Die”. After days and months of volunteering for Milan, and interacting with fellow volunteers from other campuses, this quote really touched a nerve. Next in line was the theatrical display by all the project areas on the theme of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. While 3D used reverse psychology to portray the need to sensitize people regarding the importance of Swachh Bharat, Hoskote presented a dystopian scenario where Gandhi ji had travelled forward in time, only to witness India’s current condition. Next up, were the dance performances by all the project areas – the kids put up a commendable show, grooving to some foot-tapping numbers. The special dance performance by facilitators from the Bastar project was mind-blowing. Last but not least, were the Mime performances, on the theme Hygiene and Environment. The kids made a compelling case about how the educated class is ignorantly wasting the resources, which can lead to adverse effects on the environment. The events ended on a very positive note, with the kids and volunteers understanding the need to bring out a change in the world which cries out to be preserved for a generation yet to witness its beauty.