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Youth Work

#VolunteerSpeak: Working with youth to act for change

By March 1, 2021December 20th, 2023No Comments

I am Charuta. I am 26 years old. I got the opportunity to volunteer at YUVA during December 2020–January 2021 and contribute to their work with my skills. During this period, I helped document a Drama for Development workshop, and I also created content and helped design some social media posts to drive awareness on human rights, and wrote a blog for a campaign led by the youth. I brought my skills and abilities to best support the organisation’s social development work. In return, it has been a great learning opportunity for me in different ways.

Being a virtual internship for a major part, and since I worked part-time, I planned with the team to set goals for myself that were realistic and would also help me contribute in a deep way, instead of trying to do a lot all at once.

In this blog I have largely documented my experiences while supporting the Drama for Development workshop, led by Divya Bhatia, an international performing arts consultant and producer. This workshop really helped me connect with myself and gave me a new perspective on performing arts. While documenting the workshop, I learned what I always felt art should exist for. Being a student of dance, I had always felt the power of art in driving change. Knowing a new definition of acting as action, as acting out of realisation and awareness and observing a demonstration about how it can be set in motion was a truly moving and beautiful experience for me.

Image: A still image from the Dance for Development Workshop

We all dream of change. Many of us discard these thoughts, thinking them to be impossible to achieve or immature. However, some of us are determined to work towards it. What keeps such people on the path? What differentiates them from the rest? What attitude drives the change makers? I always pondered on these questions. And as I tried to work my way to the answers, here are the learnings I would like to share — those who commit to the path of change have an unwavering belief in change. They are always open to the possibilities that exist in the world around us. They also keep acting for change, never giving up on their goal. And finally, they believe in themselves and the power of what they do.

In the Drama for Development workshop, I also observed the session design, with space for participants to energise themselves and encourage them to be more responsive. Watching the sessions as an observer was a learning experience in itself. I observed how people worked to overcome their challenges, and how imperfections which always exist can be accommodated and addressed in mature ways. Most importantly, I learnt how useful a skill it is to go with the flow, to trust one’s experience and instincts and to keep our mind free and act to the best of our abilities. With the youth, I also enjoyed engaging freely. Our open interactions helped us not to take ourselves too seriously, giving each other room to be exactly how we wanted to be.

Seeing youth at the workshop, many of whom have faced different adversities in life, was a great learning opportunity for me. Not only that, the way in which they are trying to overcome constraints, develop their own awareness and act mindfully was inspiring for me. I realised again how education can really empower us, but only if we choose to act on what we’ve learnt. Without action, we are unable to drive change.

India’s young people are full of energy and often open to taking risks to achieve their goals. But a lack of conscious purpose on their part, may cause them harm. I realised through my interactions how such workshops are important to build their own understanding and strengthen their capacities. Unless people experience and embrace their whole selves, they may fall in the danger of superficial narratives afoot, which only seek to divide people and highlight their differences.

I found it very inspiring to meet empowered girls, interact with them and know their stories. Listening to how they are committed for change efforts, I feel hopeful of what I have also been able to do to support them, and feel committed to taking ahead this change-making journey in the coming days as well.

Charuta Puranik, YUVA intern: Dec 2020 — Jan 2021

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