Inauguration - DCS 2011

raja_reddyThe formal inauguration of the course at Institute of Agricultural Technologists, Queens's Road at 1430 hours. The event was coordinated by Bharth and Farooq. Bharath is graduating from DCS this year. First to be presented on the dais was Raja  after the song "Heal the World" sung by Rachel.

Raja welcomed the gathering giving a special applause to the record number of men in the course. ali_khwajaThe course has a tradition of being dominated by women students. Not that it changed this year but this year there were more men enrolled than ever before. The age range of the students were from 17 to 70. About 93 students were present. Raja also gave the history of Banjara and the origin of the course. The next person introduced was Ali. Banjara has a tradition of calling everyone by their first name devoid of titles. There was some leg pulling between Kanmani, Bharath and Ali as Bharth called out for Dr. Ali instead of Ali.

First Exercise : Meet the stranger

Since it was 45 minutes into the function, Ali started with the first practical exercise of the day. He asked soft_drinkeveryone to get up and choose a complete stranger to sit with. The instructions were that we have to know something about the unknown partner before the end of the session. Ali went into detailed explanation of what to look out for in the course. Kanmani had already run us through the DCS manual and Ali went into it in more detail. At about the break time for soft drinks each paired up team was given one copy of the newsletter Mustard. No one had a clue why only one copy was given. More of it would be revealed by Ali in the first class later. Slowly you begin to get the idea that There is more to an action than what meets the eye when the Banjara faculty ask you do something. This is not the regular type of course where you read from the book and write the answer. Here a good part of the learning is by doing something.

Facilities and Mentors

Post the break Ali explained what not to expect from the course. He also informed us about the facilities we can use at Banjara like the Library, the voluntary organization Helping Hand and the Counselling Club. There are four batches this year RT1, RT2, RT3 and RT4. Each batch has a Mentor whose role will be elaborated later. Malini is the mentor for RTI, Sapna is the mentor for my batch RT2, Eshwaran is the mentor for RT3 and RT4 will be mentored by Sonal. Others who were introduced were Kanmani, Asha, and the volunteers for the day Bharth, Farook, Usha and Pushpa. Since I was present in the hall, Ali invited me to the dais to explain about the website of Banjara.
We had another exercise waiting for us. We were handed a slip of paper and asked to hand it over to our partner with our contact details and a line of comment on what our first impressions of our partner was.

Prized Names

gift_1There was a quixotic prize distribution at the commencement of the course. Since at the end of the course there is nothing like class or rank for students and we can roll over into the next batch under extraordinary circumstances (Ali pointed out that someone who had enrolled 8-9 years back was completing their diploma this year) Banjara decided to have a prize distribution ceremony on the first day. Prizes were given to students who were first and last in alphabetical order, the shortest, longest and the most unusual name and also for the first and the hundredth student who enrolled.

teaThe last exercise was the grouping of the students into Geographical areas of their Residences. This was to enable student to know people from other batches too as well as to form travel pool wherever possible.
The meeting ended with snacks of crisp Vadas, Biscuits and Tea. Venu ensured that the hospitality part was perfect.


FREE Online Psychological Counselling by Banjara Academy for anyone, anywhere in the world FREE online counselling for the depressed

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Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.

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! - Ali Khwaja

This website was initially conceived and designed by the late Sitaram N
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