Monday, 1 August 2016

Diving into the question “Who am I?”

"I am not what you see,
I am not what you hear,
I am not what you make out of me
Neither am I bundle of joy or sorrow
I am like alphabets that form words
I am like ink that flows in the pen
Droplets of water that flows like river
I am me, exploring wandering and flowing"

Sometimes when I think “who am I? I get puzzled. Trust me this is not an easy question to be answered! I have so many facets to my existence, so many identities attached to me, still that “who am I” remains unanswered. Interestingly, when I look back to my adolescence, I feel I had more clarity about it but didn’t know how important it is and that actually played a crucial role in building the person I am!

I have been engaging in gender work for more than 2 years now, creating, facilitating and being part of the sharing spaces with young people, where they share about experiences of their gender, violence, which are rooted in their growing years precisely adolescence. So, we thought why not engage deeply with individuals in their growing years by creating spaces where they can learn, understand and build knowledge around gender, sexuality, gender based violence and reproductive health. This lead to the birth of “Sahas”- an initiative to prevent adolescents from having experiences of gender based violence and building their capacity to challenge any form of gender based violence in their later life. With this vision, we have been working day and night out creating a curriculum around gender, sexuality and reproductive health. It’s been crazy month, full of energy, reflections, remembering things that I have learned in various workshops, thinking about my own adolescence, innovating and designing activities for adolescents (assumptions that they won’t be able to understand can be both useful and take you back) brain storming to make it more simpler and engaging was definitely a new experience!

The day began with Ungli dance energizer, followed by introduction of Sahas and our intension behind the work we are engaging in. The adolescents began their journey of knowing “Who am I” by filling the blanks in the sentences which revolved around their day to day life for example- I’m good at '……………' The zeal with which they were completing the sheet was a sight to watch for, some were quick, some were slow, few took a long time to fill the first sentence, and yes full of questions. When the participants were back in the circle, one of them shared that she never thought so much about herself though these are very basic questions, so she took lot of time to think and write. A boy shared that, the question “I’m scared of” made him wonder and he wrote he is scared of himself! This was followed by diving deep into the knowing oneself by making one’s identity card that says who they are and then finding commonalities with other participants.
Knowing "Me"

Identity Map
“Vishwanathan Anand learned chess when he was 6 years old. His mother brought chess board, he was curious; he tried playing the game though he didn’t even know what is called as? Then his mother taught him how to play chess. At my age, he knew he has winning spirit and zeal to make big in the world, that’s how Anand became Vishwanathan Anand. I also aspire to become chess champion”, shares one participant. This sharing was valuable as the session involved stories of inspiring people like Mahatma Gandhi and Laxmi bai and how the values they gained in their adolescence formed their identity and paved their way to success. This made me let go of the assumption that the kids will not understand! Beautiful indeed J
Changing Identities
 Once we have talked about our identity, identities of inspiring people, it was also important to build positive self-identity. So the participants were invited to share their positive quality followed by choosing a partner whom they have not talked to till now. They were given 5 questions and 10 mins to know their new friend. It was amazing to watch participants present their partner to the entire circle, which not only build their confidence but also boosted their partner’s self-esteem.
Knowing your partner
The design of the workshop was as smooth and as flowing as butter, the time management was perfect, the adolescents were engaged, showed openness and process of deciphering “Who am I” couldn’t have been better. Through this engagement I could see depth and value of work Kamiya had been doing and felt overwhelmed.

Through this, Sahas came live! A beautiful thing to conclude was when Kamiya Dargan, founder of My Perch, shared with the kids, “Mona and Purvi have been facilitating workshop on gender with young people and kids of your age. Like My Perch, they have started Sahas, and we are the first circle of their work.” 

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