Our HSC Superstars

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There isn’t a day that goes by without our students making us proud. On the 25th of May,2016 the HSC Results brought fresh smiles on our faces. As any other pleased parent would, we’d like to share the list of our students with their marks. Congratulations to all of you!

Shubhangi – 83%

Vikas – 81%

Priyanka – 72%

Komal – 68%

Pooja- 66%

Ajay- 65%

Pratiksha – 64%

Amit – 62%

Sadaf – 53%

Manisha  – 47%

Darshana Londhe – 50%

Ashwini Rajbhar – 70%

Komal Soda – 65%

Priyanka Gupta – 81%

Priya Gupta – 60%

Pranay – 44%

Shubham – 50%

Dinesh – 52%

Rohini Ranshevare – 45%

Kiran Gadve – 60%

As always we maintain that marks do not define you. We are simply delighted with the tenacity and grit of ALL our students.

A Bittersweet Farewell

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”

On the 9th of May, 2016 we bid farewell to our enthusiastic Dharavi batch. They were excited for this new chapter in their life and couldn’t wait to put all the skills they learnt at Antarang to use. Their smiles said it all as they tried to capture their month long experience in just a few words.

For starters each student came up and spoke about the business they started with only five hundred rupees. The objective of this business project is to build entrepreneurship skills in the students and give them an understanding of the many facets of self employment.  For their project they decided to use this scorching summer to their advantage. They managed to sell two hundred rupees worth of Nimbu Paani in just a few hours time. However, what was more interesting was their fascinating insights into this assignment. One student said that this taught her to never shy away from doing something you love. While another said that this gave her the confidence to start her own business.

When asked what they enjoyed most about their Antarang journey many said learning English was an opportunity they would never get. Now understanding and being able to speak English has instilled a strong sense of pride in them. Along with that they greatly value all the interview and job skills that the CareeReady Program has taught them. They fondly remembered their favorite parts of the course.

Finally, with samosas and smiles they ended their last session. They all look forward to a life that’s completely in their hands. They call the shots and they reap the benefits.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work another day – Confucius.”

Looking to the future

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Today is Antarang’s its 3rd birthday! As a team, we have reflected on our past, celebrated our achievements and strive to overcome our challenges. We asked the Antarang team what they think Antarang would look like 10 years from now and these were their responses:

  • Antarang has reached at least 25, 000 students
  • The CareeReady curriculum is merged with government schools across India
  • Antarang is recognized by the government of India and we help the Ministry of Human Resources Development
  • The Career Aware program has gone to main stream day schools
  • The mentors have helped a thousand students follow their dream.
  • The youth of Maharashtra are following a career of their choice
  • Antarang has helped thousands of students to realize their dream and taught them how to go for it
  • Antarang has made a post-CareeReady linkage for each student
  • Antarang works on a pan-India basis with a huge number of volunteers and staff, and has a number of programmes.
  • Antarang is adding Rs 100 crore to family income per year
  • Antarang has built a large chain of educators and learners, connected with the Antarang family in Parel.
  • Antarang’s employability skills programs are widely recognised and other NGOs use them to guide their work
  • Antarang will be famous and its work will be have come to be known as the Antarang Movement!

These goals are ambitious, but they make us excited for the future and motivate Team Antarang to always push for success and change. We hope you will be with us on our journey! #IAmAntarang

Road map

As part of the CareeReady program, the students draw a road map of their life. What detail they want to include, what they want to share, whether or not they want to present it, that is all up to them. But they do need to spend some time reflecting on their past. Indeed, reflection is something that happens every day of CareeReady because it is so important to be able to thoughtfully reflect when you are trying to progress in a career. The ability to reflect means you can handle criticism and use it to improve, which is a very desirable characteristic for any job profile.

I did it when I was in a volunteering team over the summer. By that point in our placement, we were very close and very open about talking about what hardships we had encountered. I can’t imagine how much courage it must take to share a personal story, full of challenges and obstacles, to people you don’t know so well. But one of our students did this, and I have written about it today so that his inspiring story is shared. (Quick note – he wasn’t obliged to share it at all, but he wanted his fellow students to know what brought him to Antarang)

I will call the student Rahul. Here is his story.

Rahul is originally from a small village in Bihar. He was in a government school, but he wasn’t really getting an education. The school did not take education and teaching very seriously. They were teaching him, but he wasn’t learning. But Rahul wanted to get a proper education, which is why he jumped at the chance to take extra classes in a nearby city. His brother-in-law took him and he began a new journey into learning. Rahul’s strongest subject was Hindi. This was the subject he was most confident in and had the highest hopes for. But when he took his 10th standard exams, he passed all his subjects…except Hindi. Not only was this totally unexpected, but his confidence and motivation to learn really took a hit.

The people in his life knew that he is a good student and that he has potential. They wouldn’t let him give up education without a fight. With the encouragement of those around him, Rahul was persuaded to reappear for his 10th standard Hindi exam and this time, he passed! He went on to successfully complete his 12th standard exams in the nearby city.

And then he hit another roadblock: tuition fees for undergraduate courses are expensive and his father could not afford them. Rahul’s father asked him to complete his education in the village, but Rahul knew how uninspiring it would be.

At this point, Rahul felt his future was looking bleak. That was until he had another idea: he came with his father to Mumbai, where his father worked, and he approached his father’s employer. He asked if he would be able to stay in the same accommodation as his father while he studied and then sought their advice on which college to apply to. He gained admission, but in his 1st year, unfortunately failed many of his subjects because it was an English medium college. Up until then, he had been studying in Hindi medium. So in the summer, he studied incredibly hard, re-took his exam and passed his first year!

He is now in his second year of BComm, and has been attending Antarang classes on the recommendation of a friend.

Let us do some reflecting on this story, and on what it can teach us. For me, it taught me that there is no shame in trying again. That having a support network to help you get back on track is important, especially when you’re an adolescent and quick to get demotivated. That asking for help can lead to opportunities and that persistence and determination have the power to make or break your future.

What did it teach you?

Student Spotlight

 

This blog post is going to focus on three of our alumni students who we are incredibly proud of: Vijay, Raja and Akash. These three young men are from the Wadala community, which was one of our most high-risk areas. There were high rates of crime, human trafficking and illegal trade and so there was a dangerously high chance of young people going down a dark path. But over time, due to interventions by NGOs and the efforts of the community, we have seen the Wadala community be transformed. Not only this, but we have seen these three students also change: seen them grow confident, come out of their shells and become positive and inspiring role models for those around them.

At the Alumni Meet in early February, Raja presented a short film that he made about Vijay, with the help of Akash (you can tell these boys are somewhat of a trio!). It told the story of Vijay’s journey to fencing success. It may seem odd that a sport that has its roots in the French aristocracy is popular among students in Mumbai, but such is the global nature of our city! And Vijay’s story is inspirational in a way that crosses borders.

At first, he had a strong interest in cricket. But his cricket practice, though sincere and dedicated, wasn’t giving him the results he wanted. The film shows Vijay practising in a field with a voiceover explaining his frustration. He wanted progress and improvement, but he wasn’t getting it. He then found out that there were fencing classes at his school, and the coach persuaded him and his friend to go. Vijay explained to me that he never really knew anything about fencing before he began! “But the coach explained the sport to me, and I decided to try it.”

He thought that he should try it at least once, and this is an attitude that we are aiming to instil in all our students. When you are embarking on a career, or trying to work out what your dream career might be, it is important to be open to trying new roles, learning new skills and to be ready to take on what work you can. Vijay certainly has this outlook! He wanted to find a sport he was good at, and so was open to giving new sports a try. “Sport is beneficial for young people,” he tells me, as he explains why he has been so determined. Indeed, he says that fencing has really helped him in many parts of his life. His concentration has improved, so he is doing better at school. He learnt the importance of discipline and punctuality so had high attendance for CareeReady (without which, he would not have been able to graduate).

When he begun, he was one of four students. By the end of the week, he was the only one who had decided to continue. He continued to go to class and to practise in his school’s yard. Other students would watch Vijay practising and admired his skill, and little by little, they began to join the class. It goes to show the power of a good example!

Vijay then began to compete. First at district level, then at state level where he won medals. He continued to practise and continued to improve until, this past January, he went to Chandigarh to compete at national level!

After he tells me this, we spend some time chatting a bit more about fencing. I then ask him how else he thinks fencing has helped him and he tells me that it increased his confidence. “But,” he says, as I furiously scribble down everything he is telling me, “CareeReady helped me with that too,” Akash and Raja both nod. They are both working, Akash for Mumbai Metro (that’s right, the train company!), and Raja at Starbucks (he’s in the photo above, making coffee!). In their jobs, Akash and Raja talk to new people every day. They believe that the exposure visits, mock interviews and mentorship program from Antarang helped them to become more comfortable with interacting with strangers. “We get to serve people from all different walks of life, so we have to be confident enough to talk to them, sometimes have a little conversation if they’re in a chatty mood. Because I met new people from CareeReady, I now find it easy to serve people I don’t know, make them feel comfortable, and make sure that they’re happy with they’re order. In fact, there are some customers that only let me make their coffee because I’m their favourite server!” Raja says.

Similarly, for Akash, the program taught him that it is important to be open and friendly, even if you don’t know the person. Vijay tells me that he is going to start his job at Starbucks after his exams, and that the communication skills he learnt helped him in his interview. All of them agree that from CareeReady, they understood how important it is to be enthusiastic, on-time and well-groomed. For Raja, the advice he got from the program about having a clean appearance and the importance of hygiene has really helped him prepare for his job. “Because we are serving people food and drink, it’s very, very important that we are clean and that we wash our hands regularly.”

All three young men tell me that they are grateful for the CareeReady program. We are also grateful for them – not only are they role models for their community, but they are also role models for all of us connected to Antarang. Their hard work and ability to overcome obstacles in their path is truly inspiring. And not only this, but they “give forward” to their community: Akash and Raja volunteer at a local school and all of them help Antarang’s Community Engagement team with enrolment. They have a dedicated and positive attitude, and we should all aspire to inspire the way they do.

 

Why we do exposure visits

During the CareeReady programme, the students are taken on 3 exposure visits. There have been visits to banks, malls, retail shops, schools, training institutes and most recently, to the Make in India festival. While these may seem like an unrelated group of places, the objectives of the each visit is the same no matter where we go.

One component of CareeReady is that the students gain career awareness. This can range from learning about the specific qualifications needed to enter a certain career, what experience is needed, what commitments need to be made for certain careers, and simply gaining knowledge about the wide range of careers that are open to them. Careers in travel and tourism, banking (not just accountancy!), retail, and many more, are unknown to some of our students. The range of job options available in just one sector can similarly be new to some of our students. The exposure visits give our students on-the-ground experience in different sectors. At a recent visit to The Courtyard, a pre-school, the students were given the opportunity to sit-in on different classes and see just how much energy you need to be a pre-school teacher! During most visits, the students are given a presentation about the sector and what is needed to enter it. At one visit to HDFC bank, the students were delighted and surprised at the huge variety of jobs in the bank, and were given detailed advice on how best to kick-start a career in the banking sector. Similarly, students interested in pursuing vocational training were inspired by the visit to Don Bosco. They were told about the different courses at Don Bosco, and the career options available after one finishes vocational training. The most recent visit, Make in India, was a little different, a little special. The students went to an event rather than a place of work, but the things they learnt were similar. They saw the wide range of goods that are made in India, the number of different sectors that all operate in their country and their city. The exposure visits really emphasise the fact that there is such a huge range of jobs that each student will be able to be passionately, productively and positively engaged in a career or vocation of their choice.

There is one final element of the exposure visits that I would like to talk about: the confidence it gives our students. Some of our students have not left their communities before the exposure visit. And so what the exposure visit does is take them out of their comfort zones. Not too much, though! Their trainer is with them every step of the way, helping their confidence in navigating the city, in interacting with new people and in exploring a new space. These visits help to prepare the students for the commuting they may have to do, the independence they have to gain and in general, the tricky world of work that they will enter.

Antarang and the Ashoka Fellowship

Ashoka fellows are special people. People who have seen social problems in their towns, their cities, their world, and have come up with unique and innovative solutions to combat them. These solutions have the potential to change patterns across societies. The fellows are elected, and come from a range of backgrounds, from health to human rights, environment to education. Each and every Ashoka fellow proves to us all that compassion and commitment are truly able to create change. We at Antarang are incredibly proud to have an Ashoka fellow among us – none other than our founder, Priya Agrawal! Last week, the Ashoka fellows gathered together in Delhi to discuss important issues and share ideas for change. They also went to meet the Honourable Dr President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapi Bhavan to discuss social entrepreneurship and the work of the fellows!

Internships at Antarang

52% of India’s children do not finish school. More than half of them work in often exploitative, unsafe unorganised sector employment. The rest mostly do nothing. A large percentage of them also come from some of the poorest sections of society.

Antarang Foundation is a registered not for profit that works with these disadvantaged young adults. Through structured interventions Antarang motivates young people to stay in education until they are 18, after which it trains them in employability skills and places them in careers of their choice.

Over the past 3 years, Antarang has worked with over 3000 young people across Mumbai, Pune and Varanasi.

To strengthen the work and build engagement of stakeholders with Antarang, we are looking to hire interns for the following positions:

1. Communications – Conceptualise and implement critical components of the communications strategy for Antarang’s key stakeholders. This would include films, social media, posters and other communications materials.

2. Impact Evaluation – Conceptualise and implement an evaluation for Antarang’s programs. This position requires an understanding of basic research principles and the ability to write evaluative reports.

3. Mentor Program – Document the processes and systems of Antarang’s mentor program as a manual for ready reference. Conduct an evaluation of the program and recommend methods to make the program more effective.

4. Community Engagement – Document the systems and processes followed in the community engagement methodologies used by Antarang currently and make recommendations to improve efficacy.

All the above positions are for a minimum period of 6 weeks, full time. The interns would be paid a small stipend. Antarang is a small, vibrant team. The organisation provides plenty of learning opportunities and strong mentors. Interested candidates may write in to hr@antarangfoundation.org

Five days for the youth

CareerAware is intense, insightful and eye-opening. The programme lasts 15 hours and is spread over 5 days. I found being an assistant facilitator both interesting and inspiring. As an adolescent myself, I could see things from both a trainer and student perspective. Antarang’s programmes have been designed for young people the same age as me, and while each young person is unique, there are some issues that are universal to us all. The period of life between 14 and 25 is one of rapid change and a huge increase in responsibility. “Adulthood” looms near, creeping closer and closer each day. And what happens when, finally, adulthood arrives? That is exactly what the Antarang programmes help youth to answer. Adulthood can be a wonderful period of growth, but only if you are self-reliant. And Antarang helps youth achieve this self-reliance in a crucial area: financially. This comes from the career guidance programmes, which helps the students get to know what options are available to them. Career guidance and counselling is lacking in many of the students’ education, and so, many of them are not aware of the huge number of jobs open to them. I completed the training for CareerAware facilitators and was truly impressed at the range of careers that the students are told about. There is truly something for everyone, and the CareerAware programme helps the student, step-by-step, to come to their own conclusion about what their future could look like. Each student is given a workbook filled with different activities. This could be drawing a superhero, writing out a family tree or completing a sum. During the facilitator training, the objective of each activity was explained. What was immediately evident was that a tremendous amount of thought had been put into designing each activity, including using tools like the Holland code to help the students decide which careers tey are suited to. The students are invited to be creative, to show their strengths, to note down something new, and above all, to reflect. What types of things am I good at? What will give me a stable future? What activities do I like? Is this dream of mine a realistic one? During the 5 days the students are prompted to think about such questions, and we have found that many have not ever been asked to think along these lines before. The programme leads to an increase in self-awareness as well as career-awareness. Indeed, many of the activities are designed so that the student becomes more aware of their situation. Ability to travel out of Mumbai, family support, level of education; all these are factors that must be taken into account when deciding the future. The students complete the programme with a genuine idea of what the world of work looks like. It is easy to disregard entry-level jobs as easy, to not take into account the long hours worked and the effort put in. The point of CareerAware is so that students are prepared for the difficulties that may lie ahead as well as the path to creating their own success.