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May 25, 2017 / subramanyam

My First YLP…

Some two months ago there was a Facebook post from Ravi Teja, the Club growth director of District 98 ToastMasters. The post spoke about an opportunity for a new Youth Leadership Program (YLP) program in Hyderabad and Ravi was looking for volunteers. As I was not a part of any YLP before, I volunteered to be a part of this one.

Soon I was added to a WhatsApp group, and we had an invite from Ravi to be a part of the first meeting. I am an indolent guy and the weekends make me more slothful than usual. I turned up 30 mins late for the first session. Thanks to Ravi who was patient enough to keep up with me.

The surprises began as we started for the first meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to know that Prashanti, a relative of mine,  was one of the persons who was spearheading the initiative. We drove for about 40 mins and reached KGNMT@Hydershakote in Hyderabad. KGNMT in Hyderabad houses children/teenagers who are forced to stay away from their parents. The reasons vary from case to case, in some cases, the parents would have committed some crimes, in some cases, the kids would have lost a parent or both the parents, in some cases, they are rescued from trafficking, etc.

Now meeting these girls and their councilors was in itself an experience. While I was still preparing as to what to do, thinking as to how to approach the kids? How to speak to them etc … Ravi announced that I would lead the YLP here. He did ask me before, but I accepted it before knowing the school and the kids.

I had mixed feelings when I had to take the session on CC2 the next week. However, the Neophyte’s serendipity (don’t blame me for sounding like Shashi Tharoor, but I was as confused as these words are :-)) came to my rescue. To my luck, each of the girls there was very supportive, and they were receptive to whatever I said. To begin with, they were all very shy and making them speak even for a minute was a huge challenge for me. However, there was something in these girls that made me go there every week. The dedication they showed, the sincerity with which they asked questions, the way they supported each other were amazing.

I spent six weekends with these girls, and every week the only thing I did was to ensure that a session on CC speech will happen and each of the girls would speak. The Almighty was gracious, and He ensured that people like Sai, Vamshi and Jayashree garu were there with me and gave their wholehearted support.

Those girls were indeed determined to learn the art of public speaking; they made notes of almost everything I spoke and gave their best shot every week. The girls started with speeches in Telugu. In the first two weeks, it was tough for them to make a 3-minute speech. Session after session, week after week I saw small changes happen. One week a girl would surprise me with a wonderful speech, the same girl would disappoint me the next week by running away from the dais. A girl who was eloquent in her Telugu speech would try a speech in English the next week; someone else would come up with a topic that would make my eyes go moist etc..

 In the midst of all this, one constant thing across the program was that the girls were hell bent on improving themselves. the co-operation I received from Vamshi, Sai and Jayashree mam in this regard is invaluable. I thank them for all the insights they gave and the way they added value to the program.

In the last session that we did on this Sunday (21-May-2017) we had ten girls giving their speeches. 4 of them gave their speeches in English. Every girl spoke for a minimum of 5 mins and did their speeches at a CC5 level. They were equally good with table topics and evaluations.  In fact one of the girls almost chided Vamshi for not following some tenets of CC4. My joy knew no bounds that day. I was euphoric to see the girls give such excellent speeches and awesome evaluations. Their thoughts on the contemporary subjects and events were amazing. They shared their views on Nirbhaya, the greed of humanity, child marriages, child labor and various other issues. In fact, this YLP helped me listen to the best speech I ever heard on mother and the motherly love.

As the YLP ended last week, I was left with mixed feelings.  Nevertheless the journey was indeed satisfying.


Ravi is clicking the Selfie, Vamshi is standing behind him, the  woman with bright smile is  Jayashree mam and your’s truly is holding the white board. 

There are a few moments in our life that fill us with extreme satisfaction, and then the words fall short to describe as to what we experience then. YLP was one such thing for me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank Ravi, Prasanthi and the girls @ KGNMT for giving me this opportunity. Thank you very much.

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