What's Up, Campus?: The power to listen

“At the end of the session, I went ahead and told everyone about bullying in childhood. I've never done this before.

- Aditi Patel, BA student, Symbiosis Center for Media Communication, Viman Nagar



…………………… ..n “I heard the stories and experiences of my classmates, who stay away from home, and there were some things that I could identify with.

- Mrinmai Nagvekar, MBA student, Sports Management, Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Lavale

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I was afraid of being judged by my university students and those who were attending the open mic before speaking about my battle with depression and anxiety at the event, however I was pleasantly surprised that there were people in the audience (the students) who were going through similar experiences and problems could identify with me.

- Ishita Sajwan, MBA student, Sports Management, Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Lavale

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Since real life conversations have been replaced by chats, texts, and posts on social media, there is no personal connection, and the lack of issues like loneliness, existential crisis, anxiety, identity crisis, etc. are rampant, between millennials and Generation Z. Mental health experts argue that young people, despite talking about world-related issues, don't always feel safe to open up, both online and offline, about what It is therefore imperative that a path be created for them to share and express their feelings. While some universities have groups and clubs that encourage students to share their stories and support each other, often fear of being judged or labeled makes them suppress their emotions. Therefore, it leads to various emotional and psychological ailments. When a platform that does not judge, or is prejudiced, gives them an ear to listen to them, students feel liberated and empowered to share what they have been through. Due to this crisis and the lack of empathy towards young people, Nikhil Taneja, through His Yuvaa initiative, currently in its second year, travels through 20 cities and 50 universities in India, to participate, interact, share stories with the generation and listen to open on topics such as mental health, gender, sexuality, sexual abuse, bodily shame, bullying, etc. Called Unlabel India: The Yuvaa Roadshow of Kindness, the initiative focuses on starting positive conversations and creating a safe community for young people on university campuses through workshops, sessions, and open microphones. The tour, like last year, started in Pune and visited the Symbiosis School for the Symbiosis School of Sports Science, the Symbiosis Center for Media and Communication (SCMC), the ISB&M Faculty of Commerce and the Faculty of Bharati Vidyapeeth Engineering (BVP) last week where the student spoke on topics that they are generally not comfortable discussing, and are brushed under the rug

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Create a safe space for students to talk and share


As one of the university students says: There is no greater agony than having an untold story still inside you, says Nikhil, Our intention is to listen to the young people and make stories that make them feel less alone. The road show in Pune showed various stories from students related to mental health and loneliness. The judgment of others, the lack of communication with their guardians (parents, teachers and mentors), the lack of empathy and acceptance are some of the reasons why these students cannot share what they are suffering. Hence the need for such conversations and compromise. Students must realize that it is okay to be vulnerable and that vulnerability is staggering. When one person talks, and the conversations are cathartic, it motivates others to speak as well. ”NOn tour, Nikhil often opens up and shares his journey: his battle against anxiety during the workshop/sessions, which makes students feel comfortable enough to share and disclose your issues, rarely spoken of before. Listening as crucial as sharing

Aditi Patel, a university student at the Symbiosis Center for Media Communication, Viman Nagar, says: “These comfortable and safe spaces enable us to speak and speak. When people shared their true stories, other students cried while many were taken by surprise. For me personally, these stories made me feel like I was not alone. I learned what people went through. Often you are aware that such things happen in real life, but when someone shares it so openly, it motivates and touches you. Har ek friend jaroori hota hai In the open microphone, where students from all four universities spoke candidly, without inhibition, Aditi shared: “I had just moved from the United States to India and it was that chubby girl with an accent, who didn't know how to use it. the Indian toilet. In simple words, he was a misfit. here. I became the ugly girl who had no friends, they always laughed at me. This really affected my self-confidence. I used to hunch my shoulders all the time as if I was protecting myself. However, once I started going to college, the people here accepted me and loved me for who I was. It is because of these friends that he was finally able to walk in a straight line and be proud. of young people who listen to them and generate an alarm when necessary. underway “Our goal is to build kindness clubs that include students, teachers, and therapists and to identify kindness ambassadors among students on campus who will be responsible for leading a tribe/community where students can freely discuss anything. The idea is to have a comfortable space within the university facilities that allows them to express and provide emotional, psychological and professional help, when necessary. “It is nice to hear the stories of your friends and their experiences. While everyone's stories and education are unique, you always hear something or the other, during those sessions that you can identify with. For example, the stories of my classmates, who had to leave their hometowns and move to Pune for post-graduation, and how it took them a long time to adjust here, resonated with me. My story was too similar to them and I was overwhelmed, ”shares Mrinmai Nagvekar, who is pursuing an MBA from the School of Symbiosis in Sports Science, Lavale. She shared her own experiences and difficulties adjusting to Pune on the open mic. He adds: “I have been a spoiled child and the youngest in my lot, due to which, an adjustment had been more difficult for me. I'm still trying. Because of that, I have to hear a lot of comments on a regular basis. I am called Alice in the Country and because of that, I had severe anger and stress issues in the past, which resulted in partial liver failure. I am recovering and I have become a calm person now. It is important to download

Ishita Sajwan, Mrinmai's classmate, was concerned to share her battle against depression and anxiety with a crowded room. While her parents and close friends were aware of her mental health issues and that she was seeking professional help, Ishita was unsure if her peers would treat her the same way, if she revealed that she had been dealing with both issues for four years. now. I was afraid that I would be judged because the people you study with are often unpredictable and you don't know how they will react if they find out that you are suffering from anxiety and depression. You still want to be treated the same way your friends treat you, with love, respect and empathy. However, as I spoke about my difficulties in dealing with these problems and how I am struggling with my career as well, I saw the students react with empathy: they were experiencing similar problems and I felt they connected with me. And that, I thought, was the magic of sharing stories: you free yourself and inspire others to open up, says Ishita, who comes from Dehradun.



Need for a student community


While Mrinmai admits that the sessions, discussions, and workshops where students like her can address their issues, help one open up and expose what others face, there are no platforms within their university that allow them to do so. Echoing Mrinmai, Ishita says: “Although we have a psychologist at the university, we do not have such kattas or a group on campus that organizes such open microphones or sessions to encourage such conversations. However, I would love to lead such a community at my university where students are not afraid of any unwanted judgment while expressing themselves. Combating anxiety and depression taught me that it is essential to have a support group to turn to or just a friend to listen to you. That said, it requires a lot of permission and approval from university authorities, in addition to involving students, who find it difficult to take time out from academics. NAditi emphasizes that university students like it and are under tremendous pressure. We live such a dizzying life that we do not have time to express ourselves, therefore, such sessions have become an absolute necessity today, they also give us the opportunity to heal our childhood scars. Only if we have a community that guarantees that no matter what we say, the perception that people have of us will not change for the worse and that we are accepted for what we are, the students will share their struggles and concerns. It will make them calm, confident and safe. Although we do not have a specific platform at our university, we do have clubs where we let ourselves go and do what we love. I feel like the poetry club is really very therapeutic for me, says Aditi.

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