मैं और मेरी mentor.. By Jasmine

मेरी mentor गायत्री है ! मुझे उनके साथ बात करना और time बिताना बहुत अच्छा लगता है | मैं अपनी सारी बातें उनसे share करती हूँ और गायत्री सब सुनती है | वो तो मेरी मजाकिया हरकतों को भी झेल लेती है!

ज़िन्दगी में कभी कभी मैं बहुत ज्यादा अकेला feel करती हूँ और किसी को बता भी नहीं पाती | कभी-कभी बहुत सारी कठिनाईयां आ जाती है जिसका मैं सामना नहीं कर पाती या मेरे किसी दोस्त की परेशानी मुझे परेशानी दे रही होती है या फिर पढ़ाई में कुछ problem होती है | मैं हमेशा चाहती थी के ऐसा कोई इंसान हो जिसको मैं बिना घबराये ये सब बता सकूँ | अब गायत्री मेरी mentor है तो उनसे बात करके feelings share कर सकती हूँ और कई बातों का solution भी निकाल सकती हूँ |

इन सब चीज़ों के अलावा गायत्री और मैं बहुत कुछ साथ में भी कर सकते है और आगे चल कर करेंगे | मैं गायत्री से नए-नए पकवान और English सीखना चाहती हूँ | मैं चाहती हूँ के गायत्री dance सीखे और मुझे भी सिखाये | और हम कई दिन साथ में गाना भी गायें !

मैं चाहती हूँ के गायत्री जैसी है हमेशा वैसी ही रहे, कभी न बदले | हमेशा मेरी एक दोस्त की तरह रहे | कभी-कभी मुझ पर गुस्सा भी हो तो मुझे अच्छा लगेगा ! I love you गायत्री !

My Journey as a Mentor By Gayathri Sreedharan

It’s been a little less than a year since I first became acquainted with Aagaaz. It took me very little discussion/discovery before I asked to be part of the mentoring programme. My relatively brief experience mentoring two young women from Aagaaz’s fold has dealt me a few life lessons already. Above all, this – ‘mentoring’ a young person of an impressionable age, from a less privileged, minority background is much, much tougher than it looks to be. It’s not unlike backseat parenting; you have to do more than just consider, but actually measure every word and action, and be ready to be questioned, have your belief system challenged at the most unlikely times.

For starters, when I was assigned my first mentee (I’ve had two since January), I started our relationship with the [arrogant] assumption that, as my mentee, I needed to teach or coach the young woman concerned. The power dynamic was established in my mind even before I had met her. In our first meeting, I asked her for the things she needed help with, and she reluctantly trotted out answers about a school subject or two that she may need help passing. I imagined helping the young woman study on a weekly basis would give us time and regularity, and in so doing, help establish trust and intimacy.

But it was evident that my mentee found our sessions boring, and forced. I’ve always enjoyed a spontaneous connection with children and adolescents, if I say so myself. For the first time in many years, I found myself scrambling to look and sound interesting, for some faux ‘with it’ element that might engage her, but with little success.

Funnily enough, I didn’t face such a block with children her age in the drama classes I co-teach over weekends in Rajouri Garden and Civil Lines. When spontaneous chatter fails, I sometimes resort (shamelessly, or maybe not so much) to infantilization, giving funny and just wrong answers when necessary, and sticking to certain failsafe topics such as the latest movies, what’s wrong with this public figure or the other, current affairs and general knowledge. The teenagers I work with there take pride in being up to date on the latest facts. I’ve rarely received a silent stare or Mona Lisa-esque smile in return. The power dynamic exists, but that infantilization trick allows me to turn tables for a bit, or just until somebody crosses a line, which is when I drop pretences and take on a sharper tone. It’s not an uncommon story.

But with my mentees at Aagaaz, it’s been a learning experience precisely because these children already know so much about the real world. Despite my limited interactions, I suspect they know much more about the kind of performance that would truly demand attention and respect. It’s this realization that has brought me to re-examine the very definition of mentoring, and indeed teaching – indeed, the question, what gives me the authority, the presumption that based solely on my age I can truly mentor someone?

The ice wall unbroken with the first, I found a slightly more organic and genuine start with another young woman. Following my mother’s unexpected demise in August, she has offered me more support than I have for her, which has further demolished any notions I might have had about the process of ‘mentoring’. Perhaps it’s a more symbiotic relationship than I previously imagined.

जैसे best friend, वैसे ही Mentor! By Aslam

Hi! नाम तो सुने ही होंगे आपने, असलम और ध्रुव | हम आगाज़ में सबसे ज्यादा मस्ती करने वाले Mentor और Mentee है ! में पहली बार ध्रुव से वहाँ मिला जहां मैं बचपन से पढ़ते आ रहा था, निजामुद्दीन के MCD स्कूल में | मुझे तब बहुत nervous feel हो रहा था क्योंकि मैंने कभी भी किसी Mentor के साथ काम नहीं किया था |

लगभग एक साल से हम बहुत बार मिले है और बहुत सारा सा काम भी किया है | ध्रुव पहले बहुत शांत रहते थे और ध्रुव के साथ मैं इतना friendly नहीं हो पा रहा था | पर धीरे-धीरे जैसी ही मेरी पढ़ाई पर काम चालू होने लगा वैसे हम बहुत friendly होते चले गए और अब हम बहुत ही अच्छे दोस्त है |

कई बार हम घूमने भी निकल जाते है, कभी हुमांयू का मकबरा तो कभी निजामुद्दीन का छतरी वाला park और कभी कभी हम C-5 में भी मिल लेते है (पहले B-5 यानि अनहद के office में मिलते थे) | ध्रुव ने मुझे मेरी आदतों पर काफी ध्यान देना सिखाया है, एक दर्पण या आईना जैसे | मैंने और ध्रुव ने एक दूसरे के साथ बहुत कुछ share किया है |

मैं आपको दो दिन की बात बताता हूँ | एक तो मेरा best दिन था | उस दिन मैंने और ध्रुव ने साथ में पेंटिंग करी थी | ध्रुव ने इतनी अच्छी पेंटिंग बनायीं थी के मैं तो shock हो गया था ! और एक और दिन मैंने ध्रुव को छतरी वाला park में अपना dance और stunts दिखाए | उस दिन जब ध्रुव वापस जा रहे थे तो मुझे अच्छा नहीं लग रहा था क्योंकि मुझे best friends वाली feeling आ रही थी |

ध्रुव ने मेरे साथ बहुत सारे magic tricks भी share किये है | मुझे ध्रुव ने Maths tricks भी सिखाई है | अब हमने English पर काम करना शुरू कर दिया है, मैं अभी vowels और consonants अच्छे से सिख रहा हूँ |

जैसे best friend, वैसे ही Mentor !

My journey as a mentor By Dhruv Samrat


Calling it ‘mentoring’ narrows down to its singular sense which is far from the truth. Meeting Aslam has been quite alike to catching up with your little brother, listening to his stories, discovering him, and fitting casual lectures into the conversation where you feel the need to impart some guidance.

Since our age difference does not exceed six years, there is almost no sense of distance that I might feel in the light of his adolescent behaviour. To my advantage, I can see glimpses of my own teenage years in him and that somewhat makes us closer. The resultant empathy aids me way better to counsel him on certain issues where I feel the need to do so.

The challenge comes when the difference in our cultural background and lifestyle seeps in. In my consequent effort to look at things from his perspective, I’m able to widen my own, talk to him with a better understanding and gain valuable lessons for myself. That’s when the whole mentorship program becomes a beautiful journey for both of us.

Reflections from the mentors’ workshop on Viewpoints by Gunjan Gupta


Viewpoints is a philosophy translated into a technique for
Training performers
Building ensemble
Creating movement for the stage

Viewpoints is a set of names given to certain principles of movement through time and space; these names constitute a language for talking about what happens onstage.

It is points of awareness that a performer or creator makes use of while working.

There are Viewpoints of Time and Space. Time related viewpoints are:
Kinesthetic Response

Space related Viewpoints are :
Spatial Relationship

It had been brought up in the previous meetings that Aagaaz mentors need to be better acquainted with each other. There was a need for a time and space where they can indulge in some activities to work together and improve group dynamics. Aagaaz mentorship program is also looking at distributed leadership. This workshop was aimed at increasing awareness of self and leadership. The possibility of a group working in a way so that an apparent leader is not followed, was explored.

This session was attended by : Devika, Priyam, Nishant, Kanika and Gunjan

We started with walking in the room, remembering five things:
Soft focus
Relaxed arms and shoulders
Golden band over head pulling upwards
Strong feet
Open heart

Then, we did Sun Salutations. The most important to keep in mind was to do it as a group where no one is leading. We did another activity where we were supposed to walk in a circle and doing actions together as a group. Like, turning together. This group was really in sync with each other and we were not focusing on the task but on being able to sense the group. As a result, we did not complete the task, which was beautiful. Later, we talked about various viewpoints, everybody was curious about Topography so, we did an activity based on thinking about two people whose depiction we could show with the movement of our feet. Everybody shared what their pieces were about. We concluded with an activity where one person goes out and  rest of the group is led by someone who does an action repetitively. When the person outside comes in he or she has to guess who the leader is.
Everyone discussed their observations. To conclude, we discussed Aagaaz program. Lack of attendance was discussed and how it can be observed. We felt a need for mentors and mentees to meet at the same time. May be a picnic, a potluck or decorating the space together can be planned in the month of August.

Workshop on counseling skills for mentors- By Priyam Jain


Priyam (Nagina’s Mentor) is a trained counseling psychologist with a specialization in using art based therapies. Over the past few months while listening to the various narratives of Aagaaz mentors, she had an urge to share some concepts and ideas with the hope that they would empower both the mentors and their mentees to have more meaningful conversations. We had a great time interacting with her on 24th June and she has shared her reflections from this session. 

I was lucky to have found a highly willing bunch of mentors, who were ready to jump in to deepen their understanding of counseling. I loved that people brought in personal examples from their own experiences with counselling and catharsis.
The method of delivery was fairly dialogical, making room for sharing personal narratives and addressing curiosities.
I did feel that I could have made the conversation more relevant by helping us discuss and  practice some real life obstacles with our mentees.
What I am very happy about it is that our vision  to make the mentoring meet- a space more owned by mentors rather than Aagaaz core team, came a step closer.
I wish I had been better prepared to practice the skills of counselling in crucial conversations that people have in real life.

A reflection on my mentoring journey by Dhwani Vij

True to the vision of Aagaaz, we are creating a forum for reflection, dialogue, and learning for our lovely mentors as well. Together, we are exploring notions of working with young people, and its relationship to their idea of self and the world.

We have been talking to our Mentors about their experience of interacting with young adults. They seem to learn a lot about themselves during this journey. Dhwani has shared her feelings and thoughts about the mentoring program and her relationship with her mentee- Muzammil

How has been your relationship with Muzammil as a mentor?
It has been very comfortable from the beginning. I remember the first day we met as a mentor and a mentee- it was awkward because none of us knew what to expect from there. But given Muzammil’s God awful jokes and my ability to laugh at anything- I feel both of have found a brilliant rhythm of working with each other.

Have any perspectives emerged in you and Muzammil about a mentorship program like this?
From that first meeting in Eatopia, to now, the way that I feel about what this program is has changed. It is no longer a one sided channel- I find myself evolving as a person/facilitator/mentor, with each project that we do together. Who can tell who is the mentor and who is the mentee?

What do you think Muzammil has received from this journey?
Maybe ask Muzammil 🙂

What do you think of one-on-one attention?
It is definitely more personal and customised according to not just what is required by that particular learner but also at that particular time. For me, it also created this soft sort of friendship which allowed us to be freer with each other and hence much more helpful.

Has the journey taught you something about yourself or in general? If yes, what? 
Whenever we talk about a relationship where learning is the main agenda, we talk about the lesson plans and the modules and the syllabuses. Sometimes we talk about the profile of the learner. Fewer times we talk about the journey of the teacher. At least in the traditional view of this relationship.
While working with Muzammil, at such close quarters, for long stretches of time at once, I was able to see how my journey is directly affecting his learning ability. I was no longer in a session filled with ten people. It was no longer possible to keep a clear distinction between a personal and a professional side. In a good way.

What’s the way forward for your journey with Muzammil?
Muzzamil is applying for his college this summer. It is a wait game for now. We have to see which college he gets into, how his needs change, how would he like me to be present. We are beginning work on a new production from July, for which Muzammil is assisting me. So I am looking forward to that too

Insights from Mentors’ Meets By Aakriti Mehrotra

Aakriti, who mentors Zainab, shares her perspective and experiences of the mentors’ meets that are organized every month.

Joining Aagaaz as a mentor was almost a no-brainer for me. I had heard wonderful things about the people involved, and the mentorship programme allowed me the kind of flexibility I needed with a busy schedule. I knew mentoring someone would be a rewarding experience; it was almost a given. What I didn’t envision, however, was how much I was going to benefit from the programme, specifically the mentors’ meets, and how brilliant these get-togethers could be.

The first mentors’ meet I went for was in fact, the first meeting for a lot of mentors. We introduced ourselves and then Sanyukta Di introduced the programme to us and gave us some insights on the children. Next though, was an activity planned that made the meeting so brilliant. We were asked to draw lots and in those chits, were questions and statements. What is the first thing that comes to mind when we read what was written on those chits? We had to speak aloud the immediate memory that came to mind when ‘summer’ or ‘school’ was mentioned. Even though it meant we should speak our mind, this also allowed us to dig for memories which we hadn’t thought about for a long time. I guess this is what I like about these meetings in general. As a non-confrontation person, I don’t actually confront my thoughts either, so these exercises are almost like therapy.

The following mentors’ meetings have also been like mini-workshops. In one meeting one of the mentors Sukriti gave a sort of a presentation about using Sonday system in helping out with pronunciation of words, something which was insightful and valuable for everyone present. Since we’re not professional teachers, picking up on an important aspect of learning was incredibly helpful.

Perhaps the meeting I remember the most is the one where we sat in small groups and discussed our adolescence. As someone who had buried some painful memories (at that time) so far back in her head, it was refreshing and therapeutic to think about them and say it out loud in a safe-space. In our recent mentors’ meet, which was attended by just a handful of people, we came up with a list of things we want to do in the future sessions. Some of the suggestions we came up with included striving towards making Aagaaz a community, going for fun-trips every once in a while, having sessions where one or two mentors’ can speak about themselves and what they do and having meetings with more exercises that deal with ‘us’ and eventually with the relationships we form with anyone, especially our mentees.

All the mentors’ meetings have been incredibly satisfying sessions and have included more than just reviewing our relationships with our respective mentees. There has been giving and taking, there has been mutual understanding and often, a lot of introspection.

A Reflection on my Mentoring Journey- Anusha Ravishankar

We have been talking to our Mentors about their experience of interacting with young adults. They seem to learn a lot about themselves during this journey. Anusha has shared her feelings and thoughts about the mentoring program and her relationship with her mentee- Ismail.

My relationship as a mentor has evolved over time. I feel we have become friends. Or at least reached a space where I know he can share his feelings and thoughts with me without hesitation.

I became a part of this program hoping to forge a connection with a person who might be going through a complex and confusing time – because I know how those teenage years were for most of us. I also knew that there were certain concrete areas where Ismail needed help such as conversational English. He was also looking for someone who could coach him on playwrighting. I knew that I could help him there. My perspective about this programme changed over time. I realise now is that it isn’t a platform where one gives and the other receives. It is a genuine learning curve for both people involved while also making room for a friendship to emerge.

I think the one- on-one attention is essential for sharing because it helps create a safe space. Also, there is more scope for investing both time and attention to the smaller often neglected aspects of a person.

This journey with Ismail has taught me to examine my prescriptive attitude that can potentially emerge towards a young adult. I don’t think it works as an approach even if you have the best intentions. I think the listening and asking questions is the ideal approach, since nobody wants to be told what to do.

My only concern is that I will be leaving Delhi soon and want to figure out a way to be in touch with him. Skype calls are a possibility and I will visit often enough, so I think we can manage.

The Mentoring Programme

Initially, the mentoring programme at Aagaaz arose from a need to bridge academic gaps that our adolescents in Nizamuddin were facing. We decided that there was a need for one-on-one connections to make this more beneficial and sustainable.

Later we re-designed the programme to look at needs that go beyond the academic. We realized that there was a need for a deeper relationship that could act as a learning space for both the mentor and the mentee.
Currently, we have 20 professionals from diverse academic and professional backgrounds working with the young actors on their various areas of need and interest. These include script writing, theatre direction, music, art, emotion management, language and mathematics, and more.
True to the vision of Aagaaz, we are creating a forum for reflection, dialogue, and learning for our lovely mentors as well. Together, we are exploring notions of working with young people, and its relationship to their idea of self and the world. One of our Mentors Anirban has been working quite regularly with Shahid on music. Recently, they co-hosted a workshop that introduced the participants to songs, passing games and folk melodies from across the country. They played these folk melodies using stuff that we use on a daily basis – utensils, jars, pulses etc and helped the participants connect to the forms in a fun manner.
“It went well, although we could have done a lot more, but since this was our first workshop together and we had limited time, we could only do two folk songs. We started with the history of the songs, then did a small session on familiarizing the participants with the homemade instruments”- Anirban, February 2017

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