Wednesday 27 July 2016

My Award Journey

Shradha Ramakrishnan, a Bronze Award Holder from Hiranandani Upscale School, Kelambakkam, shares the experience of her Award journey here.

I, Shradha Ramakrishna have completed my Bronze Award journey.

My Service section was a group activity, where we mainly taught under-privileged children some basic computer skills, incorporating other vital concepts as well. For example, on a normal day we would talk about the necessity of staying in good health and give them an activity accordingly on the computers in either Word or PowerPoint. Our talks consisted of a main group talk that summarised the topic at hand, and then we would split up into three groups where we discussed the topic in detail. Some prominent topics discussed were road safety and health. We normally ended our classes with a quick game to gauge their spirits, such as ‘Simon says’. My individual service comprised a day at the Alpha to Omega School, which is a school for children with learning difficulties.

In the Skills section I chose Bharatanatyam. It is a dance form that I am highly passionate about, and have been practising it for more than eight years now. My Arangetram, a dance graduation, was completed in July 2014. To explore this passion further after my Arangetram, was the reason I took this dance form as my skill in this section of the Award. My classes were always very demanding. Some classes involved a thorough revision of the basics and when the teacher was slightly late, it was my mandate to begin some of the crucial exercises for the younger children. Since I had finished my Arangetram, the teacher had taught me longer and more demanding pieces of dance known as Varnam Jathis. These are pieces of pure dance that make up the Varnam Dance. I was taught charis, which are simple, elegant movements that are incorporated in a dance. To keep in touch with my Arangetram dances, we revised them in almost every class. The culmination of my academic dance year was with a performance in March at Tambaram, Chennai, where I took part in the Kauthvam group dance, a solo padam ‘Bho Shambo’, and in the themed dance of Dashavataram, the 10 avatars of Vishnu. It goes without saying that dance is the key to my concentration, balance, discipline and my overall mental and physical health. It is something that I enjoy thoroughly and I explore this art form with my Guru in every lesson!

For Physical Recreation I chose Athletics. Athletics is a sport which I plan to pursue in future and I thought this would be a good opportunity to track my progress. For each athletics session, I spent two hours a day and I went twice a week -- on Saturday and Sunday. The coach gave rigorous training, which increased my stamina and speed twofold. I am currently training four times a week now. The training was unique and sometimes we would go to different places. For example, we went to St.Thomas Mount and we did sprints and other exercises uphill and ended with a brisk 3 km jog. Each class focused on a certain aspect, for example: endurance, speed, power, skill and fitness. I excel mainly in endurance because I am a long distance runner by nature. I had run 10 km in an event hosted by Chennai Runners on 10th January and out of 50 people I came 7th with a time of 52 minutes. On 6th February, the school had a sports day, and my relay team finished third and I finished third in the 100 mts race. The rains in Chennai had affected my fitness as the track was submerged and inaccessible. Getting back to form was another challenge I overcame. I thoroughly enjoyed these athletics sessions and will continue to take part in meets and soon dream to become an International Champion.

The most amazing and interesting part was the Adventurous cum Exploration Journey. For this activity I went to Coorg with my batch mates. We stayed there for 3 days and 2 nights. On day one, we decided to explore nature on our own. We walked up to the Abbey Falls and explored the vast extended forest. The walk there was scenic. After visiting the falls, we visited the source of the Cauveri River known as Thalacauveri, a temple and a historical site, on top of the hill. The second day consisted of major adventure activities. We kick-started with some football and then proceeded kayaking. It was a team exercise; I kayaked while my partner helped with turning. We kayaked for 2 km. After this, the whole group went rafting and I was manoeuvring the boat with the supervisor, again this was also for 2 km. It was a very scenic canal of water. Later on, we went to a lagoon area with rocks forming pools of water, some shallow, some deep, giving rise to different colours. Since it was a team activity we had to help each other in climbing over the rocks. The boulders of rocks surrounded a small waterfall which flowed to a gushing stream. After eating our lunch, we went for a hike to the summit of a high hill. The drive took 10 minutes and from there we proceeded on foot with our mentors. We trekked from one mountain summit to another. The first one had a thick forest which we had to walk through. It is said there are elephants in the area, but we did not see one. We trekked for a distance of 12 km altogether.

After completion of my journey, I can say that getting the Bronze Award is one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. The Award Programme has given a focus to my interests and helped me sharpen them greatly. Click here for the pictures

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Gold Award Ceremony 2016 - July 14th

Achieving a Gold Award is one of the biggest milestones in the life of Gold participants. It shows their ability, focus and determination to achieve their set goals and pursue them with passion, perseverance and single-minded devotion to the purpose. While the Gold Award journey promotes the overall development of the participants, it also gives them immense opportunities to learn from their experiences so that they can deal with the challenges that the future might pose. The Gold Award Ceremony is organised every year to salute their indomitable spirit and perseverance.

This year's Gold Award Ceremony was organised on 14th July 2016 at the India International Centre, New Delhi. The National Award Authority (NAA) took immense pride in felicitating the Gold Award Holders. This Gold Award ceremony is dedicated to appreciating the milestones and achievements of each participant. The day was dedicated to celebrate, enjoy and cherish their achievements with friends, family and the IAYP team.

This year the National Award Authority was privileged to invite Mr Abbas Ali Baig, former cricketer, Indian team as the Chief Guest, who graced the occasion with his presence.
The ceremony was preceded by an interactive session with Mr. Himmat Kalsia (Chairman, Award Programme Foundation) and Dr. Sanat Kaul (Managing Trustee, Award Programme Foundation), who reached out to the Awardees, Award Leaders and parents and initiated a dialogue about the Award Programme. They asked the audience to provide their experience and feedback and suggestions that would help the Foundation to advance the Award Programme in India.

The host and compere for the ceremony was Pratibha Singh, Award Leader and Member of the National Training Panel, who kept the audience engaged with her lively exchanges and appropriate snatches of poetry for each occasion. She commenced the Gold Award Ceremony by welcoming the Chief Guest and all the Awardees, Award Leaders and Parents. Mr. Kapil Bhalla, National Director, had the privilege to welcome the Chief Guest Mr. Abbas Ali Baig, Mr. Himmat Kalsia (Chairman, APF) and Dr. Sanat Kaul (Managing Trustee, APF). This welcome address was followed by honouring the school principals who were there to grace the occasion. Mr. Bhalla welcomed and congratulated Mr. Jorawar Singh, Principal, Cambridge International School, Phagwara; Dr. Sumer Bahadur Singh, Principal, The Daly College Indore; for their invaluable contribution to the Award Programme, and presented them the Friendship Badge.

A variety of entertainment performances were presented by Award Participants, commencing with a solo song presentation by Aditi from Vidya Devi Jindal School, Hisar. The house was dazzled when the participants form Uttam School, Ghaziabad came to the stage and presented a short tableau about how King Ashoka embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths during the Kalinga War, a war that he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. This tableau was followed by a presentation from the participants from Sri Sarada Math, Rasik Bhita about the Gender Diversity and Empowerment Project. Konkana and Swagata shared real life experiences about their efforts to approach and reach out to the underprivileged; they also described how the community is benefiting. After this, Abijeet Nagpal from The Scindia School, Gwalior shared his experience of a cycling expedition from Manali to Leh through a short film.

After the entertainment presentations, National Director Kapil Bhalla addressed the audience, sharing information of the progress of the Award. He outlined future plans that have been designed to spread the Award Programme to untouched areas of the country. Kapil Bhalla also highlighted the achievements of the Gender Diversity and Empowerment Project run by IAYP India under ISPG Grant. With immense pride, Kapil Bhalla applauded the four participants with special needs from Raphael Ryder Cheshire International Centre, Dehra Dun, who received their Gold Award and recognition for their extraordinary pursuit.

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of The International Award, a series of short films are being screened internationally, featuring interviews with Award participants and Award Leaders from around the world. Kapil Bhalla shared that the interviews of five Indian participants and Award Leaders have been selected for the 60-minute movie created by The International Award Foundation. His report was followed by a screening of the short films of the Indian participants who were nominated for the 60th Anniversary film.

The National Director's speech was followed by the Award Presentation Ceremony where the Chief Guest Mr Abbas Ali Baig handed the Gold Certificates to the participants and also honoured a select group of Award Leaders with Special, Voluntary and Outstanding Service Meritorious Certificates.

The Chief Guest in his speech congratulated all the Awardees and Award Leaders for their success. Sharing some life experiences with the audience, he mentioned how he faced challenges when he was young and how he overcome them with focus and determination.
Mr. Himmat Kalsia, Chairman, APF proposed the Vote of Thanks at the end of the ceremony.

The IAYP thank the Chief Guest, Award Holders, Award Leaders, Principals, Parents, Guardians and our Trustees for being there to make this Gold Award Ceremony a big success. For Gold Award Ceremony pictures, please click here.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

A New Experience and a New 'Bonnya'

Bonnya Soren, a Gold Award participant from Sri Sarada Math, Baladbandh, got an opportunity to explore the world outside her village for the first time during her Adventurous Journey. Here, she shares her astonishing experience with us.

I belong to a remote village in Hooghly District, West Bengal. I have never travelled anywhere outside my village before. When I came to know that I was chosen to be a part of Tumling trek as a Gold Award Participant, I was overjoyed. It was a great day for me. I was waiting for 8th June to come. Seventeen Award participants from Sri Sarada Math-Rasik Bhita and two from Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata, participated in the trek to Tumling, which was held from 8th June to 14h June 2016.

Sitting on the Dibrugarh Express, I was very excited as this was my first opportunity to see the Himalayan Ranges from close proximity. Getting down at New Jalpaigudi was a new experience altogether. We could feel the presence of the Himalayas around us. From there, we went by bus to Manebhanjan, which is a small mountain township on the border of India and Nepal, at an altitude of 7,054 ft.

At Manebhanjan our real adventure started. We had to trek a distance of approx 11 km. to reach to Tumling, a small hamlet in Nepal from where we could see the beautiful Kanchenjunga ranges. After reaching Tumling, we had our lunch and in the afternoon went walking to Tunglu Top to get acclimatized to the high altitude. That day we stayed at Tumling and the next day we started our journey towards Jaubari. We also visited Singhalila National Park on the way to Jaubari, a long village with open meadows and houses lined on either side. There we also observed mother nature so closely and faced challenges that we had never imagined and experienced before. We got ample opportunity to interact with the local village people and got to know about their cultural heritage along with the study of flora and fauna of the region for our Exploration Journey.
We reached back on 14th June early morning by Uttarbanga Express. All I can say is: a new ‘Bonnya’ came back from this trek, one who is much closer to nature and much closer to herself and her people. Click here for pictures...

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Road to Gold

Sukanya Shukla, a Gold participant from The Scindia School, Gwalior is sharing her Award journey with us.
Back in 2014 when our team was returning from a cycling expedition (and thus, successfully fulfilling one of the criteria of the IAYP Silver Award), my teacher coordinator asked me about how the entire seven days journey had been for me. Extremely excited to answer that question, I described all that I had enjoyed doing. When I was done, she asked me if I had learnt anything on this trip. That’s when I realised that my IAYP journey was more than just enjoyment. It was about exploring, learning and understanding the true meaning of this award. As soon as I realised this, my Gold Award journey became astonishingly interesting. Earlier I only enjoyed IAYP, but now I began understanding it as well.
My Gold Award journey began right after I received my Silver Award. It began with me continuing to do pistol shooting, which I had already been doing consistently for two consecutive years. Every day that I spent in the shooting range brought me closer to understanding the true meaning of discipline in life. I understood what people meant when they said that sometimes you meditate while you work. When I realized this, shooting to me was no longer just a sport that I had started practicing for an hour and a half each day. I had also been working in my school’s papier-mâché department, which was not only a useful and fun skill that I acquired, but also enhanced my creativity. It was an amazing feeling to create things with my hands, without having to worry if I was doing everything correctly. Every idea and every creation was welcomed. This atmosphere of openness in the papier-mâché department was a blessing as all us who worked there; we never felt restricted from making anything.
I also took classes in a blind people's home in my city but, surprisingly enough, I think it was I who learnt a lot in that one hour class. The one thing that was common amongst everyone in the blind home was that they never considered their lack of sight a disability. None of them ever hoped for any sympathy or pity from anyone and each person there was enjoying life as best as they could. It was a pleasure interacting with them.

I also took part in an expedition in the Spiti region for the duration of fifteen days, where we worked together to build a greenhouse. We were told that this greenhouse not only served as a great source of income for the local family, for whom we made it, but it also allowed them to grow vegetables during the winters when there is minimal sunlight in the mountains. We cooked our own breakfast and lunch and whoever took to kitchen duty, realised how difficult it was to cook food for thirty people. After eight days of hard work we were finally able to build a decent greenhouse for one of the local families. We also trekked to a lot of places around the same region, home-stayed with local families and enjoyed experiencing their culture. Before we began the expedition, we were told about the rules of trekking in the forest and the different things that we should take special care of while staying in the houses of our host families. It was a memorable expedition which gave us an opportunity to observe the mountains and their culture closely and learn so much from it. 
Immediately after the month of April, my teacher coordinator finally gave me the news that I will be receiving my Gold Award on 14th July 2016. I feel satisfied and proud to have successfully completed all that was required to qualify for the Award. But most importantly, I am also extremely thankful to IAYP for giving me the opportunity to explore and learn. I realise that all the social work that we did, helped the people for whom we did it, but most importantly, it shaped us to become better human beings. The entire IAYP journey was truly an extraordinary one and contributed in shaping my growth as a person. Click here for pictures...