Monday, May 13, 2013

Widen thy Scope, Mizo Fresher!!

Its the end of the educational year/semester, and most people who have just passed out of school have found out how well or unwell they've performed in the most stressful and pivotal moment of their pre-teen years. The time to embark on the collegiate journey has just begun, and now is the time when they flit from one part of the educational spectrum to another, flicking through all the college brochures and filling in College admission forms. Most of these kids would just be happy to get into a decent college, with decent surroundings. A select few, who have probably been preparing long before the exams were even written, are aiming to get into the prestigious and well-known institutions either abroad or local.

But this post isn't about the choices you make in terms of your Degree, your major, or your educational institution. This post is about the attitude and the awareness that i believe many kids, Mizo kids in particular are very ignorant about.

People, I realise that you have been brought up to believe that the decisions you have to make and are yet to make in your life are based on some easily definable factors. I realise that you have been programmed from birth to accept life is lived in a certain way and that the circle of life is very foreseeable. And based on this, you have been left with some very narrow pathways to go down in your life. The traditional Engineer-Lecturer/Teacher-Doctor/Nurse-Government Officer/Worker system is still very much alive in Mizo Culture. Which is why people find themselves confined to the subjects that they choose in College in a very mechanical way.

This is WRONG!!

Look, i'm not trying to point out faults in the Mizo socio-economic upbringing system. In fact, in the present scenario, i completely agree that those particular jobs are probably the most efficient ways to settle down in Mizoram as of now.

What i'm saying, rather is that to limit yourself, if only at the College level atleast, to an archaic and downright boring pathway, is a crime and a shame against the notion of nurturing creativity.

To give a clear example of what i mean, i'm going to compare the Standard Loyola College Mizo Student experience with my own experience when i did my UG there.

Unlike some colleges in North India, in Loyola we directly choose the subjects that we have to major in rather than choose 3 options and confirm by the last 2 semesters. I chose Sociology.
Every year is split into two semesters. And in each semester we have major subjects, which are the common subjects for all Sociology students, and the minor subjects which are choice based and deal with subjects outside of, while still related to Sociology. For example in one semester i chose to take Public Administration while others chose History of Freedom Movement.
Now apart from the core major, there are several extra and intra curricular activities that are compulsory for getting credits. Like the social work related Outreach department, and the Clubs that we have to join.

Now THIS is where it gets interesting. Most kids go through their entire college life just doing the bare necessities to get through college and get a degree, and in doing so, they miss out on a huge part of the college experience. I'm not just talking about the cultural activities or social interactions.

I joined a club called AIESEC when i was in Loyola for the first 2 years. Most people dont even know that such a club exists in Loyola. Even i found out about it after a bit of digging around and contacts i had within the club. My AIESEC experience will forever be one of the defining ones of my life. AIESEC, as it turned out, was a global non-profit organisation that is the second largest after the UN in terms of countries it is active in. We basically dealt with facilitating internship opportunities to people within the AIESEC networked countries. Long story short, i got the chance to interact with a lot of foreigners, a lot of different people from different global backgrounds, took part in national seminars and conferences, while also learning the nuances of being part of the running of an international organisation. I know AIESEC has a murky rep in other cities, but for anyone who is based in Chennai and opines about the conservativeness of the city, AIESEC is a godsend.

In my third and final year, i joined the Loyola Society of Debaters(LSD) and took part in various National Debate competitions and got he experience of travelling to different institutions in India and, again, interacting with various people, not to mention learn the entertaining academic event of Parliamentary Debating.

These were NOT part of my compulsory studies and i could have easily joined a basic club like the Chess club or the NCC and got through the course with minimal effort. But, being a part of those two clubs helped define my perspective and my personality development much more than any other academic venture in Sociology did.
I have become a much more confident person as a result of these experiences, become much better at interacting with people and at my social skills too. I was able to make contact with people from diverse backgrounds and different departments.

And beyond this, there are so many opportunities available in College where one can avail internships or exchange programs and visit various other places and experience unique moments in your college life.
And there are also various academic activities that help build up one's resume if one was interested in it.

Alas, 99% of all Mizo students who i know that have passed through Loyola, not only choose the most basic path, but do not express the desire to explore various avenues in their college venture.

In the upcoming year, i will try my best to encourage every Mizo Fresher who comes to Chennai, to think broader and be open to more options. You don't have to change the destination, but you can make entertaining detours that help make reaching your destination a much more exciting journey.


irene said...

I do agree about your view... and much happier about your thoughtfulness of your fellow future mizo student....

zakk sangkima said...

Agreed with 100%. During my last election campaign in Mizoram in 2008 i campaigned mostly on education and i was astonished to find that 90% of the people i interacted with (Parents/Students)did not realize there were career opportunities beyond the conventional Engineering, Doctor, Civil/Govt jobs and BPO's.
When I told them about other Avenues their children could explore they were ecstatic. I think the problem with our youth is their ignorance, and the governments inability to hold education fares etc. to raise awareness. I think our state would benefit tremendously if we were to raise awareness on careers because i believe we have some of the smartest students in our corner of the country.