Life Skills Training Camp – India. Day 1
The Life skills training camp was organized by the British Council in New Delhi from October 5 to October 9 in Sanskriti Kendra, New Delhi. Beyond Borders CGMs from Core Groups in Sri Lanka, Mumbai and New Delhi were to attend the life skills camp.
Beyond Borders, as a project under the Connecting Futures initiative of the British Council is being decommissioned as of March 2007 from all partner countries involved in the project. At the time of the life skills camp Beyond Borders in both Pakistan and Bangladesh has already being decommissioned.
The life skills camp consisted of sessions and workshop which loosely dealt with the core themes of Beyond Borders – Identity, Diversity and Active Global Citizenship – both in an abstract sense as well as their practical manifestations. The program also consisted of a Beyond Borders ‘Alumni Night’ where all BB CGMs from previous as well as current beyond borders core groups were invited.
Cheka Lankathilake, Deane Jayamanne, Nooranie Muthaliph, Sanduni Mendis and Vidushi Senaviratne participated on behalf of the Beyond Borders Sri Lankan Core Group while Sanjeevani Munasinghe participated on behalf of British Council Sri Lanka.
We arrived at the Delhi airport at about 7.30, a few minutes behind schedule due to a slight delay in taking off, back home. Sanskriti Kendra, the venue for our BB Life Skills training camp, was situated in the outskirts of New Delhi. After about a forty minute drive from the airport, we arrived there around 8 o’clock. The premises of the Sanskriti itself were quite beautifully landscaped with a lot of trees, ponds and artistic sculptures.
By this time none of the other participants (except a sole representative from BB Mumbai), had arrived; they were expected the following morning when sessions were scheduled to start. The next morning the Delhi BBites arrived and there were about 20 of them in the group. Already having the company of a CGM from BB Mumbai, another one from the same group was to join us the following day. Most of the participants have been with BB for sometime, but there were a few members who were quite new to BB as well.
Session 1: ‘I am from’
By Swati Chawla
The session, which doubled as personal introductory session for CGMs, involved each of the participants writing a poem about ‘Who am I and where I come from’ and what brought us to where we were. Later, all members were asked to read out their poems, which were a revealing and a humbling experience as well as an emotional one for at least some of us. Later we were asked to write these poems in large cardboards and put in a place where we could see it for the rest of our stay.
Session 2: Exploring the self (I and body)
By Pawan Gupta
SIDH (Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas)
The session was an attempt to explore the self with relative to reality, perception and the ‘I’ and ‘body’. The abstract nature of the subject matter meant that the session was both lively and argumentative.
Pawan elaborated in detail about ‘reality’ and ‘perception’ and what role the ‘I’ plays all that. He admitted that the session itself is a much fast paced version of the same session he conducts at SIDH for three weeks. The session however did provoke deep thought and provided insight into what SIDH tries to achieve through its alternative take on education.
Pawan also spoke about the organization of SIDH, and how it came into being, initially as an organization which provided education for a rural community. He soon found out the kind of traditional, structured education they were providing was not helping those individuals or the community in which they live in, as those who took part in their program considered themselves ‘educated’ and therefore refused to take part the largely agrarian based employment available in the community all the while not being able to find other means of employment elsewhere. This led to SIDH’s experimentation of alternative means of education, where they teach as much as possible through the context of local physical and social environments. SIDH conducts residential courses for young people aged 17 to 24 years.
Session 3: Setting up an organization
Facilitated by N.Ramakrishnan
Ideosync Media Combine
The sessions evolved around the dynamics involved in setting up an organisation, a relevant topic to us because Beyond Borders as a project of the British Council will be decommissioned as at 1 April 2007 and all the core groups are expected to form into some sort of an organisation to keep on working as Beyond Borders.
Session 4: Media for Social Change
By Arijit Roy
The topic under discussion was an interesting one, but by the time the session started at around 7.30 p.m. The facilitator tried to spice off the session via his accompanying drummer who played up tunes to cheer up the audience.
Arijit Roy began with asking each of the audience their favorite food and their choice of media and then went on to give a brief overview forms of media which could be used for social change including community radio, Blogs and theatre.
His particular niche when it came to media for social change was theatre, his organization Jagran specializing in using mime theater as a medium to create both awareness and as stimulants to start of discussion and debate. He spoke about the initiative Jagaran have launched with the Delhi Police where they go into various communities and perform mime theatre out in the open about serious issues such as rape and sexual health, later on they would have open discussions about the issues concerned with the presence of prominent figures in the police.
The core idea being, to make the police more receptive to the people and also to make people understand (especially in the case of rape) the importance of reporting to the authorities. At the moment they say that lot of cases go unreported.
He also spoke about the advantage of mime theatre over other forms, especially the fact that language barriers can be negated through the medium.
Session 5: Film Screening – Identity
The film was an abstract depiction of identity.
Once the screening was over there was a quite a serious discussion on identity. the discussion went on to cover religion, language and ethnicity. Different issues were raised including and the direction focused on issues such as the move to make Hindi the official language of India, and the language issues of Sri Lanka which fueled the ethnic conflict.
Overall the discussion was interesting.