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Peer Mentoring - Orientation

Venue : Jain College, J.C.Road
Time : 2.30 p.m. To 4.30 p.m.
Members : 25-30 P.U. Students

Dr. Ali started the session by asking the question as to why the students had chosen the third or fourth row when the front rows were empty. The students answered that they were comfortable in the last row, they could concentrate better, no one had told them where to sit. Dr. Ali then told them that there was no logical answer to this question, these kind of actions are just driven by emotions.

Next he asked them to mention one activity which they had done without any emotion. None of the students answered this and Dr. Ali said the reason for this was we are not able to identify the emotions and differentiate it from other activities.

Dr. Ali asked the students why they had taken up the course of 'Peer Mentoring'. They answered that they were interested to know about the subject as it deals with the day to day issues. And it is all about controlling your emotions etc. Dr. Ali said that this was the most important, as knowing your emotions and controlling them would be very important. And being a mentor or counselor one should know how to manage their own emotions.

He illustrated a situation where he overheard a conversation of two men in the canteen of an IT company. They were discussing about cricket. The discussion which started very casually then headed towards a heated argument between both the men. Dr. Ali then explained that both the men maybe in very good positions, earning a handsome salary, they may have very high IQ but their EQ has been very low. This is the state of many individual today. This course will help the students understand their emotions and relate to it.

Dr. Ali also mentioned that they may have advancement in technology, and machines may replace human activity in many forms, but it will not be able to replace the human emotions. If one is poor at Maths or any language the machines can help them but if a person is lacking emotional honesty he will loose out on life.

Dr. Ali chose the students who were seated in the last row to answer his next question. He asked them as to what they were thinking at that moment. Many answered that they were thinking about what will be the question posed to them, one student answered he was thinking why Dr. Ali choose the last row. All the answers were very spontaneous.

Another question was asked to the same students as to what they were feeling at the movement. The students waited for sometime and later hesitantly answered that they were confused, they were not sure what they were feeling, they were excited, self conscious, and curious to know the subject or what they were going to learn etc., but the answers were not spontaneous. After everyone answered Dr. Ali asked them if they has noticed that they were reluctant to answered the second question while the first question was answered by them very spontaneously, he also explained that the reason for this was that they did not know what they were feeling at that moment and they were not able to recognize their feelings. He asked them give it a thought as to why they were not able to do this. Why it was a state of difficulty or a kind of struggle to identify the emotions or a feeling. This is because nobody has taught them to deal with feeling or identify them. On the other hand they were taught to confuse the feelings and emotions.

He gave an example of a child who is playing with her toy and her brother snatches the toy from her. Now the child is furious with her brother, and she screams at him telling that she hates him. The mother interferes and tells the child that it is not possible to hate her own brother and that she loves him. Now the child is confused and she thinks that love is an emotion that has to do with taking things from others or hurting others. Another important thing is that we have been taught to suppress our emotions without letting it out.

Dr. Ali asked the students about their specialization chosen by them in their P.U course. There were students from all the three specialization Science, Commerce and Arts. Some students said that they had scope, another student said that it was easy for him to go to his music classes and so he choose Commerce. He told about emotions can control the day to day decisions made by the human mind. He also mentioned that what they have chosen today and what they will be doing five years from now would be completely different.

As an example Dr. Ali mentioned about the Infosys. The CEO of Infosys Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan has done his B.Sc in Physics, the COO of the company Mr. Shibu Lal is also not an engineer, the next possible COO of the company Mr. Mohan Das Pai has done his C.A and now the HR head of Infosys. Among the top 100 people in Infosys only 29 members are computer engineers, 40 are not engineers at all.

The website Hotmail.com was created by Mr. Sabir Bhatia who did his engineering and worked for a IT firm in America. He did not earn anything from this website as he only created the program and uploaded it into the Internet and people had created many accounts on this website. Knowing this Microsoft requested Mr. Sabir Bhatia to sell them the rights for an amount of 1 million Dollars. Mr. Bhatia refused to this and when people asked him for a reason for refusing the offer he said that Microsoft should have seen something in this program that they are ready to Pay him such a big amount, and he wanted to know about it. But Microsoft compelled about giving them the rights and Mr. Sabir Bhatia finally sold the rights to Microsoft for 400 million dollars.

Another exercise was given to the students where they had to write about what came first to their mind when asked the question of 'Who are you?'
If the answers were of the following then
If any one is not able to write anything in the given time then it is time to introspect about themselves.
If they write that they are Human beings then they are not thinking fast enough.
If they have given only their name or nationality then it is fact and they had no choice
Designation - If anyone have given only their designation then they have not realised that they are a lot more than that, and their thoughts and capacity has become stagnant with the job.
Dr. Ali asked the student if they had written anything other than the above mentioned thoughts. The students had written the following answers for the question:
I am friendly
I am Nice
I am a special being
I am a soul in the body
I am what I want to be

Saying this he narrated an incident that took place in Sankey Tank, where a small child had fallen into the water and people were watching helplessly. Suddenly they found that a young man had dived into the water, he saved the child and people appreciated him for his bravery. By the time a lot of commotion was created and the media reached the spot. They were eager to interview him, he told them that he would give them an interview but first wanted to find out who was the person who had pushed him into the water. Life can push you into various situations, one should be prepared to judge the situation and should possess the skill of connecting with the emotions.

One should change himself, only then will he have the quality of changing another person. Dr. Ali said that, when people come to him asking if they can do a crash course on Counselling as it was difficult to manage time doing the full time course, he often asks them to spare sometime and watch the movie 'Sholay', in which there is a jailer who will be given the instructions to change the mindset of the prisoners in his jail. And the jailer says "We are not able to change ourselves, how will we change the prisoners?" This is the a fact, that people should change their way of thinking before they try to change somebody else.

Dr. Ali then told about how he enrolled into Metallurgical engineering at IIT. The principal had decided as to which student would take up what subject (there were only two subjects Science and Arts). It did not depend on which subject the student had scored good marks, or what area the student was interested in but on the overall percentage i.e. if a student was good at science subjects but his overall percentage was low he was put into Arts. And if a person was good in Arts and his overall percentage was more, he was sent to Science. So he was put into the Science group. After completing the PUC there were only two choices either to take up the entrance exams and enroll into IIT, or choose a local college. Dr. Ali was enrolled into IIT after clearing his entrance exam, but did not know what specialization to take up, the students were given counselors who helped them choose the specialization, Dr. Ali requested his counselor to suggest a specialization which involved less of Mathematics, so the counselor had suggested him to take up the field of Metallurgy. Then Dr. Ali questioned the students if they could guess what his classmates who had done their Metallurgical Engineering were doing now. Some told that they could be in the IT industry, or Banking or Politics. Dr. Ali said that one person was the Additional Director General of Police in Maharashtra, another person was handling the Operations at Citi Bank for East Europe, One was the Chief Minister of Goa – Mr. Manohar Parikath, another person Mr. Sudhindra Kulkarni was the speech writer for former Prim minister Attal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K.Advani, another classmate is the principal of an International School in Kunoor, another was the Managing Director of the National Film Corporation.

There was a short story narrated by Dr. Ali. Before this he told the students that whoever knew the answer should only raise their hand. Giving this instruction he started the story: One day there is a fatal accident of a two wheeler in which a father and son were traveling. The father died on the spot and the son was seriously injured. People gathered around the horrific scene and saw that the boy was still alive. They rushed him to the nearest Hospital where the Doctor informed them that the boy cannot be rescued. The people pleaded to the Doctor, so the doctor replied that to rescue the boy an operation has to performed which can be done only by a Neuro-surgeon, they did not have such a surgeon in the Hospital and hence the boy cannot be rescued. One bystander said that there is a Neuro-surgeon in town who had come there for a vacation and we can contact that surgeon and ask for help. When asked upon the surgeon agreed to perform the operation and and went to the Hospital. When the surgeon entered the operation theater and was ready to operate, saw the face of the boy and said " Oh God, I will not be able to perform the operation on him, he is my son".

Dr. Ali asked the students as how this was possible? How can the boy be the surgeon's son?
None of the students were able to give out the right answer, some said that the father maybe a church father, or a step father. Finally Dr. Ali answered the question and said "The Neuro-surgeon is the mother of the child". But why did'nt anyone think of this possibility? This is because non of them could think out of the box.

The difference between Mentoring and Counselling was then explained by Dr. Ali. Mentoring was to help a person come up, and and a mentor was usually a person who was elder to the Mentee. But counseling can be done even by a person by a younger person. In counseling the counselor is always with the other person and helps him so that he does not loose his way. Pamphlets and were then distributed to the students with questioners with instructions to answer the five questions and return it in the next session.

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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

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