Wednesday 25 July 2018

The best experiences of my life

Silver Award holder Angelina Freda Smith from Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School, Jaipur, completed her Silver Award Journey, a few months ago. Angelina is sharing her life-changing experiences with us.

IAYP has turned out to be one of the most fruitful experiences of my life. What started out as an endeavour to strengthen my college application has turned into something that has taught me the beauty of taking out time to do things we usually do not do.

I was diagnosed with asthma in my childhood and never dreamed of doing things which required much physical exertion. So the idea of going on an Adventurous Journey was daunting for me. Our school chose Mashobra Hills as the location and upon reaching the serene destination, I forgot all about my fears. There was nothing connecting us to the outside world (the best part was no cell phones) and it was just us and the serenity of nature. It turned out to be a life-changing experience in the end as I discovered shocking things about my own limits and how willing I was to push them. Despite several attacks during the whole trip, I kept going and ended up winning the award for the best camper.

The most profound experience, though, was the night trek where we walked on narrow paths and didn’t even realize it until the next morning when we had to cross the same place in daylight. It taught me that fear is all about perception.

Another highlight was laying down on the ground in the freezing cold and staring at the stars as I had never seen them as clearly ever before in my life. It brought friends closer together, especially after living in the same tent together, and it showed us how to rely on each other.

So, after returning I decided to challenge my asthma further and joined yoga classes for my Physical Recreation activity. I thought it’d be tiring to go there every evening as I’d be drained out from school – but the opposite started happening. The workout started making me feel more energized and I looked forward to going to class. In the end, I picked up the valuable skills of meditation and breathing exercises which help me keep my asthma under control.

I have always loved music, but never actually tried to partake in an activity related to it. So I found IAYP to be a good excuse to pick up a guitar. I soon learnt that the steel strings weren’t for me, but I kept picking up the basic skills such as switching chords quickly, learning the beats, analyzing music and playing finger style. But at the end of the six months, I left the guitar and ended up applying the knowledge that I gained from the classes and picked up a ukulele (which is a 4-stringed instrument) which I’ve become quite proficient at playing. So it taught me that not everything that you try to pursue is a success, but it always ends up teaching you some kind of skills which come in handy in some sphere of your life. Failure is an important part of success.

The thing I am most thankful to IAYP about is the Community Service. I have loved animals ever since I can remember and I always wanted to do something for the street dogs I used to come across, but I never thought of anything apart from feeding them food. So the instant I looked at the requisites of Community Service, I knew I wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter. The one I chose is called ‘Help in Suffering.’

The process began with some mandatory injections for me – which included rabies and tetanus, following which began my training under my supervisor. We began with the foster room, which included only small animals like little puppies, kittens, baby pigeons, etc. I learnt how to feed puppies and kittens milk, how to pick up a bird and check if its wing is injured and how to check for a fracture. Then we moved on to the bird cages where I learnt how to change the newspapers and replace food without making the birds feel threatened by my movements. I was taught how to make a temporary splint and how to pick up an injured and scared puppy without getting bit.

Over the course of the year, I did a lot of things like mix food for cows, bring dogs to the dispensary, groom and bathe the animals and hand feed dogs, but a few experiences stand out for me.

One would be the day they had a baby squirrel about the size of my thumb come in with a fractured leg – it sat in my palm as I fed it milk with a cotton bud.

Another experience was seeing a puppy around Diwali time come in with a burnt mouth as someone had lit crackers inside its mouth. All this made me realize we spend so much time worrying about the plight of fellow humans, we sometimes forget about the ones that cannot seek help, but desperately need it. Therefore, I have been using social media and my school as a platform to try to raise awareness about these little issues and how we need to be more sensitive about them.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank IAYP for giving me a reason to undertake activities that I otherwise would not have, but have always wanted to do. This is much more than an Award, this is a platform for the overall development of a person.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

The Ladakhi Voyage

Bronze Award participant Bhaswati Basumatry from Miles Bronson Residential School, Guwahati, completed her Adventurous Journey. Bhaswati is sharing her journey experience with us.

We twenty-five Bronsonians were sprouting with excitement when our IAYP Adventurous Journey trip destination was finally revealed. We were more than happy to travel to the land of the mountains, i.e., Ladakh. We were all thrilled when we boarded the Guwahati flight for Delhi on 10th of June, 2018. We stayed at Guwahati for a night and took the next morning flight to Leh.

Landing at Leh was a whole new experience! We and our two teacher escorts were in awe by the high altitude and knew that our adventure had actually begun. Our trip was in association with an organization called Thrillophilia, who let us stay at their premises for a day. We were strictly instructed to keep drinking water and rest for a whole day so that our body could adjust to the new environment and increased altitude. The next morning all were geared up to move towards Khardungla pass. Although we had to go through a lot of difficulties, we stayed strong and crossed the highest motorable road in the world. After Khardungla pass, we set off for Shey, where we had our lunch. It was an amazing experience while interacting with a new culture. We spent the night in a camp, under the organization Bikamp. The camping experience was great as it was set in a beautiful natural location. The next day, we had to go to Kargil. We went to the zero point and also visited the Kargil War memorial. We also visited the very peaceful Land Yuru. The overnight stay in Kargil was followed by our next morning trip to Srinagar. We had to travel the whole day. On finally reaching Srinagar, we spent the night on a houseboat in the Dal Lake. Staying in a boathouse was really intriguing as all the transports had to be done by boats. The beauty of the Dal Lake was too mesmerizing! The next day, we all went for a shikara ride, the main attraction of Srinagar. That very day, we had our flight to Delhi at around 3 p.m. We were very upset as we did not want to leave. We were all so attached to the beautiful land of Ladakh that when we boarded the Delhi flight, all went mum!

This trip made us realise that life is not easy. Hardships come, but surviving it depends on us, whether we want to run away or face it. Travelling to a height of 18000 feet above sea level was not easy, but we faced it. The IAYP trip has empowered us with a lot of learning lessons. Meeting new people and knowing their culture has given us a sense of satisfaction. Although we had to leave, the Ladakh memories will be forever cherished in our hearts.

Thursday 12 July 2018

Gold Award Ceremony 2018 - A Report

The annual Gold Award Ceremony was organised on 10th July 2018 at the India International Centre, New Delhi. The National Award Authority (NAA) took immense pride in felicitating the Gold Award Achivers, Award Leaders and Volunteers. Eighty-two Award participants were selected for the recognition at this ceremony, and fifty-eight participants attended the ceremony to receive their Gold Award. This Gold Award ceremony is dedicated to appreciating the milestones and the commitment of each participant. The day was dedicated to celebrate, enjoy and cherish their achievements with friends, family and the IAYP team.

We were privileged to have His Excellency Honourable Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, United Kingdom’s High Commissioner, to grace the occasion as the Chief Guest and felicitate the Gold Awardees and Award Leaders.

Mr Kapil Bhalla, National Director, welcomed the Chief Guest His Excellency Honourable Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, Mr Himmat Sher Singh Kalsia - Trustee Chairman, Award Programme Foundation, and Dr Sanat Kaul, Managing Trustee, Award Programme Foundation. The Principals and Directors of different YES Centres were also welcomed and honoured by the National Award Authority.

A variety of entertainment performances were presented by Award participants. The first was a dance performance by the participants from Sri Sarada Math, Baladband, West Bengal, based on a song written by Rabindra Nath Tagore - Aguner Poroshmoni. This was followed by a group western dance performance by the participants of Khaitan Public School, Sahibabad. A dance recital, Shakuntalam, was performed by the students of Indirapuram Public School, Ghaziabad.

National Director Kapil Bhalla addressed the audience, sharing information about 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.

The National Director's speech was followed by the Award Presentation Ceremony where the Chief Guest His Excellency Honourable Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG handed the Gold Certificates to the Gold Award achievers. In addition, thirty-six Award Leaders and Volunteers were recognised with the Outstanding, Voluntary and Special Service Meritorious Certificates.

The Chief Guest congratulated all the Awardees and Award Leaders for their success. He also shared his life experiences with the audience and welcomed the Gold Award Holders to the United Kingdom for their higher education and promised support for this on behalf of the British High Commission, India.

Himmat Kalsia, Trustee Chairman, Award Programme Foundation proposed the vote of thanks at the end of the ceremony.

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

Congratulations and Thank You

Congratulations for your fantastic achievement! Your dedication, enthusiasm and insight are really inspiring. A big round of applause for all Gold Award Achievers, Award Leaders and Volunteers. Our thanks to all stakeholders who made the Annual Gold Award Ceremony 2018 a huge success. Thank you, Honourable Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG for gracing the ceremony.