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.

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