Anshu Singhal: My Service Leadership Course (SLC) Experience
I am not sure if I can remember the year exactly, but it was way back when I was in my first year of college… I completed my exams and it was vacation time, and as any other ordinary first year student of B.Com in Gujarat, I was free – relaxing and roaming around the entire day. I feel this is a very crucial time for any youth, because at this time you are full of energy and enthusiasm; and if one doesn’t get proper guidance on where to direct that energy and enthusiasm, it gets wasted in the ‘Vellapanti’. But in my case, I was lucky enough that one of my friends Jayesh Mohta, who is also a member of Volunteer Ahmedabad (VA), suggested that there was some YLC kind of thing going on in Ahmedabad… The program is 1.5 months and deploys the youth of Ahmedabad to do something for the city and community at large; along with developing their leadership and other personal skills. Now at that moment, honestly, I was occupied with nothing and was willing to do anything which would utilize my time. Apart from this, it was a free course as well, this added feathers to the hat. So, I thought let’s try it out! Bare minimum I would at least meet a few new people, talk to people in the community, learn communication skills, and probably make some friends. But trust me, as of today, I feel that was the best decision of my life. Joining YLC and engaging myself with VA and Indicorps at large, turned my life like anything.
There are few basic things that every general human being knows. They are as good as common sense. But just as common sense is very uncommon these days, similarly, following those basic traits of life is also not that easy. For a very simple example, all of us know, that we should not be littering around the city. This is not a good practice. We watch hundreds of video’s which showcase this thought. We are the ones who would be cribiing about ‘this city, this place is so dirty.. everybody litters here and there.. etc etc..’ and still we only would be the one’s littering around at the same time. We all complain but, honestly how many of usfollow? Hardly any. And that’s the harsh reality of life. Working with VA included building relationships with mentors. Our Mentor during that time was Juie. She is simply awesome. She was so down to earth, smart, hardworking, motivating, and helping. Working with VA under the leadership of various experienced mentors made me understand such basic traits of life so deeply, that I follow them even today after being away from this city for 4 years, and leaving VA for 6 years. One would cultivate these feeling so deeply in your blood, that they would become principles of your life, and would go away only with your death. This would ensure one thing, that after graduating from YLC, you would be a good, responsible and mature member of your city, citizen of your country, and world at large.
The program at YLC is so awesomely designed that it gives you the scope to learn with your own comfort and flexibility. You can choose your field, get your own ideas, make your own project on the issue that you feel annoys you the most, and in return I guaranty that you would get 100% support, guidance, moral help and team work. I am sure, you still have the question, ”What do I earn after spending my 1.5 months volunteering?”.. correct? I know, because this is typical human mentality. I don’t want to generalize, neither do I want to be judgmental. But these are the 2 basic things that you learn first: not being judgmental and not generalizing things. When you lead a group of people in doing action items on a Sunday evening in a famous place like Vastrapur Lake: performing street plays, sweeping the road, rallying a crowd, carrying brooms and buckets, and wearing the white VA t-shirt – the pride that you feel is out of this world. When you interact with people, letting them know about the basic needs of the city and how our individual contributions can make big difference – that boosts your confidence. When your parents see you becoming a leader they feel proud of you. When you yourself realize the potential and the energy that you have, and can spread the love with which you were born ( which has faded a little by growing up in a cunning world), the love again will start becoming crystal clear. The deep brainstorming sessions bring awesome ideas like you would have never imagined. All the videos, audios, and beautiful movies, motivate you like anything to go out, cry out loud and say, “I will be the change I want to see in world”. And last but not least, and this is my personal experience, you meet such beautiful people, and you make such lifelong friends with them, such that 6 years down the line you feel the greatest treasure you earned by joining YLC and VA is friends. That is what I am doing as of now.. and you too can be one of us, sharing your experiences…