Reflections from the Leadership Journey Gathering- With Commutiny the Youth Collective- By Devika

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We were invited for this Leadership Journey gathering and Nishant and I seemed to have no clue what we were getting into. We walked into this office in Kalkaji and luckily, things only got better.

Commutiny the Youth Collective, popularly known as CYC is an association of youth led and youth engaging organizations across India working towards promoting empowering spaces for youth leadership. Their objective is to help people move towards the needs of the society while continuously working on the self as well. They are well known for their media tools, especially the films they create for social purposes.

The objective of this gathering was to bring together people from different organizations who are supposedly ‘Youth Leaders’. They wanted to open up a space for dialogue and film screenings to help us investigate our own methods of working and introduce us to the tools of 5th Space.

We started the session by watching two movies- ‘Find your own Music’ and ’18 till I die’. They were both interesting films that opened up an opportunity to discuss the various lenses through which the youth in this country are viewed. The Economist Lens, Problem Solver lens, The Youth for Development lens and the Youth Development Lens exposed us to the abundance of mindsets. After Changelooms, Aagaaz has been quite conscious about trying to create a Youth Development based work environment. We want to create spaces where learning and growth happens for every part involved.

Soon, we were introduced to a very heartwarming film called ‘Class of Rowdies’ that led to a great discussion on creating empowering spaces for students. We spoke about ways of creating avenues where the youth involved take part in the decision making processes. We also ventured into conversations about curiosity, questioning and how they influence learning in a positive manner.
We continued to speak about tools that would help us equip ourselves better as leaders. A lot of ideas were presented and it was nice to hear that so many people are working in this direction. Peer-to-peer learning, Empathy, Dialogue, Lack of Judgement, Reflection, Trust and Transparency were some of the words that were floating around. The facilitators of this session then introduced us to Pravah’s philosophy that consisted of Reflection with Action, Experiential Learning, Ownership of spaces and Joy in Learning.

We got a lot of valuable insights from this interaction, especially in the theoretical realm. They also gave us a questionnaire to look at difficult decision making and how polarities confuse us, just like they confuse young people. We were also introduced to a mobile game on leadership that the organization has created to help understand options, decisions and repercussions. Lastly, we were given a question to think about- ‘How much space do I give to young people to feel empowered?’ This was a difficult questions that definitely put me on a spot.

The films we were shown were quite impressive but I wished that we had spent more time dissecting them. This would have helped us understand how such media can be used in our lines of work as well. In addition to that, a session with higher audience participation could have engaged people much better.

I’m really thankful to Pratibha, Kanika and Aparna for inviting us. Their own facilitation skills were a learning experience for me. They managed to open spaces for healthy debates. They also expressed their points of view and held space for the participants, without being directive. The factual information and statistics they shared with us, helped me come to terms with the bigger picture I sometime lose while concentrating on the intricacies of the group I am working with.

The most valuable aspect of the workshop was the opportunity to meet other organizations and leaders. There are not many avenues created for cross pollination in a semi-formal setting. I look forward to more gatherings!

EPR Changelooms-Aagaaz’s Journey with Changelooms comes to a Pause

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The second last week of March left us with no time to catch our breaths. Along with the Kisse Connection, Unlearning Uncentred, the Duniya Sabki workshop and performance, Nishant and Sanyukta also participated with End Point Review Workshop with Changelooms from the 22nd to the 24th of March at the Vishwa Yuvak Kendra.

The first day of the workshop entailed a very interesting outdoor activity that involved setting up a tent and passing people through a volleyball net-like contraption, all while some of the members were blindfolded or tied up. The session ended with very intense conversations around leadership. What does it mean to be a leader? How does/should one create space for making mistakes – for the self and others? How do we create an inclusive culture for our teams? As always the conversations were deep and the comments from the facilitators were insightful. Deep Jyoti Sonu Brahma, the founder of the  Farm to Food initiative in Assam, and an Ashoka Fellow, spent the evening with us, sharing his story. The evening was perhaps the most exciting as renowned theatre practitioner, Jaya Iyer came into do a workshop with us – we played and were happy! She was there to help the group put together a short performance on their Changelooms journey.

The second day was spent in looking at the journey that the organization had made in the last 6 months in terms of its vision, culture, people, processes, structures, and shared leadership. We knew we had made many changes and come a long way, and just seeing it all mapped out made us realize how invaluable the past 6 months had been for us. Kanika, our mentor and Yasar, our coordinator, constantly asked us difficult questions, and challenged and pushed our boundaries. Of course the workshop was very emotional. We wrote letters to our mentor and she wrote us a letter. We spent the evening brainstorming strategies to stay connected to the Changelooms community. A few plans of collaboration, and a few other strategies have already been implemented. For the worst scenario, we have all set an alarm on our calendars to remind us of the day in 2021. 🙂

The last day was overwhelming with the participants and facilitators whispering words of love and inspiration to each other. Tearful goodbyes led to the closing ceremony where all the organizations set up their galleries exhibiting their gorgeous work. For us Changelooms has been inspiring! At any point in time if you are swirling in angst about the world not making sense and are at a loss to find any hope for the future, do spend your time exploring the work that our fellow Changeloomers are engaged in. Here are the links:

 

Kshamtalaya

LECIN

Bucket List

Bodhi Tree Foundation

The Optimist Citizen

Swatantra Talim

Vidyodaya

Dinajpur Notun Alo Society

MASH Project

Red Brigade

 

Thank you, Changelooms!

Changelooms and Beyond!

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We are in an odd space of many years of heart-work that is finally finding its identity as an organisation. Even before we registered UnLtd. Delhi came to our rescue. Sanyukta, as their Level One Fellow was asked a barrage of difficult questions that helped Aagaaz begin to find itself. ARThink South Asia, a few months later put her in an incubation for two weeks. With space to breathe, Aagaaz’s vision, strategies, and goals began to emerge. With Changelooms in October 2016, Sanyukta and Nishant have been on a journey with 12 other gorgeous organizations to find deeper meanings of leadership, strategy, how the self affects the organization and vice-versa, facing demons, and feeling supported to overcome challenges. Aagaaz is being held through a process of deep self-discovery and realizations. We have found and fixed design flaws, expanded our work, and learnt to dream bigger and deeper. Even as the journey will formally conclude on the 22nd of March, we know the impact of this fellowship will stay with us for years to come.

All this support has helped us make some important decisions that are reflected in our latest programme map that clearly indicates what is happening currently.

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