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From One Student To Another: How You Can Make The Most Of Your College Life

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By Navneet Arora:

College life welcomes us to a whole new world and presents a pool of opportunities. We step into this space with a clean slate where nobody knows us and vice versa. So we have to start all the way from scratch. In such a scenario, one might feel lost, and a sense of disorientation might hover over us because suddenly we are brought out from the protected environment of school to a place where we have loads to explore.

college edu
For representation only.

Provided we are keen to grab opportunities and make something out of them, there is a lot one can do in their college life. We can/can’t gain a lot from our college life and our experience changes us in ways we can not even imagine. Often, people lose interest in activities and become complacent. This way the three years (on an average) of our college life whiz past without leaving an imprint on our lives. One definitely does not want that.

What College Life Can Teach Us

The best way one can feel a sense of belonging to one’s educational institution is by being a part of various events that the college organizes. For instance, annual fests, competitive events, or various society events. Sakshi Jain, a 2nd year student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women was part of the organizing committee of the Annual Academic Meet of her Department, ‘Juxtapose’, which was held recently on 7th-9th October. She describes her experience, “Teamwork is the most important virtue that one learns from such events as you are supposed to collaborate with different types of people. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert (though the latter would be better for a person in such situations) you have to be able to communicate effectively. Decision-making and self-help are two major things that you need to imbibe if you haven’t already.

In case of societies, if a full year commitment is not possible, then one can enroll for individual events or workshops. This does enrich a student with the much-needed exposure on how to handle an event, to gauge the possible obstacles and overcome them efficiently as and when they occur in the future. It gives an immense boost to the self-confidence of a student. According to Yukti Wadhwa, a 2nd-year student of Daulat Ram College, “I was pretty shy and timid while in school and not really high on confidence. But starting all over again in college and the fact that nobody knew each other, really worked for me. I actively take part in various activities. I like taking up responsibilities, being part of college activities, making them better and giving my best shot. It has indeed given me a lot of experience and boosted my confidence. A new and different work environment prepares us well. Some students fear taking up responsibilities because they feel that they haven’t done any such thing before and they might end up spoiling things for others as well. But then, there is always a first time. It is perfectly okay to be confused. But be confidently confused.

Juhi Bajaj, a 2nd year student from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce, says, “What has supreme importance over everything else is to get the work done. Apart from personal growth, one gets an opportunity to encounter various conflicting opinions on the way that widen horizons, instil tolerance and help us accommodate differing perspectives to look at one particular thing. Besides, we can always learn smarter and better ways to do things with other people. The worst one can do to oneself is to consider their own opinion as the ‘right’ one and refuse to listen. This habit does more harm than anything else. Ultimately such events refine your skills and prepare you for the outside world.

What College Life Can’t Teach Us

Indeed what college can’t spoon feed us with, is how to set our priorities. We have to figure it out and set things straight on our own. Nobody will tell us what book to read, how to arrange our time table and what, when and how to study. The simple principle is ‘to each, their own’. We have to adjust to this paradigm shift where nobody is telling us things and we have to make or break through situations mostly single-handedly.

Conclusion

Precisely, college does not serve us things on a platter. Moreover, when we are new to an environment and need to start afresh, there is a possibility that we can lose our sense of direction. At this point one can, rather optimistically, focus on the lightness of being a beginner again and continue the journey with a clean slate.

Apart from making a lot of new friends, one can earn an unforgettable journey of learning and discovering oneself. We do uncover some traits in our personality that we may not have been familiar with, and we can come out a stronger and more self-aware person. Moreover, college can always be fun with friends.

After all, the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement and what better when you get a fair chance to fall and rise within this space. So it is better to do that here in college than step out clueless.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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