Shubham Rawal just completed a gruelling set of Class 12 board exams. But unlike several of her friends the 18-year-old student is not lazing around all day recuperating from the hard work. Twice a week she visits Prateeksha Nagar School in Andheri to teach students games, dancing and other activities.
Always criticised for their indifference, teenagers are now becoming more and more conscious of their surrounding and are supporting causes that strike a chord with them.
Environment, education, rural development and helping the disadvantaged seem to be the causes that evoke most response from collegians this summer and many of them are volunteering their holidays away.
“The whole experience is very rewarding. We had so much fun teaching them basketball and were so moved when they said, ‘bye didi roz aana.’ Now we realise how nice it feels to help someone else,” said Rawal, a student from Mithibai College in Juhu.
Social organisations in colleges, too, have a calendar filled the events for the vacation.
The Rotaract Club of Jai Hind College just returned from a two-day trip to Rajguru Nagar, a village near Pune, where they helped villagers harvest their fields. “Nineteen of us literally stepped into their shoes for two days. We were uprooting crops, harvesting fields and in return they taught us weaving and rangoli making. We sat with the village children and taught them finger painting, while they told us stories about the village,” said Shantanu Ugrangkar, a first year junior college student from Jai Hind College.
Students of Jai Hind are also looking forward to their Rock for Education concert in May. Called Pantomine, the event will host a battle of rock bands from all across Mumbai, and all the profits will be given to promote education.
At St Xavier’s College, their Social Service League is planning to take a 20-day trip to various villages in Maharashtra, and helping them in whatever way they can. They plan to stay in each village for at least four days.
Neil Maheshwari, a student of St Xavier’s College said, “Social service is not an event, it’s a way of life. It’s hard to explain why we do what we do; its something you have to experience to understand. We have about 800 members, and every one of them is dedicated to the this way of life.”
While many volunteer, there are a few students who go beyond the basics and actually set up not-for-profit social service organisations. Youthrise is one of them. After the tragedy of 26/11, Ananda Boga Pandit a student from Mumbai who was then studying in Kodaikanal International School, decided to form an organisation where youth would be taught to take up leadership and responsibility while helping society. It was first initiated in Kodaikanal, and then spread to various cities, including Mumbai.
Youthrise organises IGNITE every July. The workshop enlists students to help raise awareness about corruption, environment, underprivileged children and understanding the administration. “It is a satisfying and rewarding experience too make others smile when you help them. We work for no materialistic gain, but just to see that another blame game is not played the next time there is a tragedy,” said Tanvi Aggarwal, an active member of Youthrise.