Special Banjara Events
Diploma in Counselling Skills-2011 Convocation Report
It was a bright sunny afternoon on the 64th anniversary of Indian independence, 15 Aug 2011, and we had all gathered with our family and friends, at the IAT, Bangalore, to receive our Diploma certificates. It was a nostalgic feeling to recollect our days at the classes at Banjara Academy every week; time had passed by so quickly, and all the learning, unlearning and relearning had slowly metamorphosed all of us into people better at reaching out.
The programme began with a welcome address by Kanmani, Coordinator, Banjara Academy and Asha Sidd. This was followed by the much-awaited release of 30 Dinagallalli Sukha Jeevana, the Kannada version of Ali Khwaja's 30 Days to a Better Life. Geeta Srinivas and Sathyavathi who released the book are the translators. Raja felicitated the people who were instrumental in bringing out this book and thanked them for their valuable efforts in making this book accessible to a larger section of the society to benefit them.
Raja addressed the gathering and shared his thoughts on the responsibility of a counsellor in providing a good listening ear and being there for people who require emotional support and clarity of thought. Ali Khwaja requested all the mentors to wish the students on the occasion. He then spoke about all the talks, meetings, workshops conducted regularly by Banjara Academy which could be helpful and provide a chance for the alumni to meet up. The most important feature of the convocation was the ceremony of all the students taking the pledge of being a counsellor. This was indeed a solemn occasion and each of us took the oath with pride.
To entertain the audience, Asra Ali performed a gripping dance number. This was followed by a few songs sung by students from all the batches; then a few students shared their experiences of the course and their aspirations.
The certificates were presented by Raja and Nalini to all the students. Ali gave a key attribute, a brief description, of each student before the certificate was given, making us guess the name of the student having the attribute - this gave a personal and caring touch to the ceremony.
The convocation ended with the singing of the National Anthem which brought us all together; we felt united yet again in this journey of self-growth and empowering humankind. Before parting ways that evening, over a few bites and cup of tea, all of us congratulated one another and interacted with all the faculty, mentors and staff of Banjara Academy. It was indeed a great way to celebrate, as part of the Banjara family, our country's Independence Day and our newly earned responsibility as counsellors ready to reach out to people.
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Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.
With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!
Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Sreedhar MA