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Why I Chose Job Satisfaction Over Job Security After Engineering From Kanpur

By Manvendra Mishra:

I was always an inquisitive student. I had the curiosity of knowing about everything that exists. This led to my increment in knowledge but I also suffered many punishments asking so many questions, as this would irritate my teachers. The problem was only aggravated when I changed schools. Having grown up in a lower middle-class family in Varanasi, I’d experienced Hindi medium schooling till Class 8, after which I took admission in Central Hindu Boys School.

But there was a fear inside me. Fear of not being able to compete with those students who came from a very good English medium school. However, after attending a few classes I realised language can never be a barrier – just as my father had advised.

Being amongst the class toppers, and the eldest sibling in my family, it was my responsibility to teach my younger siblings. Initially, I would get frustrated because I couldn’t explain to them the very concepts that were so clear in my mind. One day my father asked me to stop shouting while teaching them. “Try to understand them and figure out where they are struggling. Only then you will be able to help them,” he said to me. That changed my thinking, and I started explaining the same concepts in different ways, also helping them perform simple activities written in their science books.

This worked, and it got me thinking about the teaching process, deeply. I realised I had met only two or three teachers, whose classes were worth attending, and I started realising how classes should be more engaging; how there should be a lot more experiments and activities, and how the teachers should frequently discuss our problems.

After Class 12, I took admission in a reputed college in my hometown. But I chose to move out and experience life, differently. I joined the electrical engineering branch at HBTI, Kanpur, and felt it was the best decision I could make. Through it, I found a ‘different me’. I participated in fests and singing competitions, which I had only ‘imagined’ myself doing till now. I discovered how powerful group discussions can be, and what amazing results learning with peers can give. I realised how trapped I felt in the classroom during my childhood, because all that I had experienced, was majorly theoretical.

When the time came for campus placements, even though my father and grandfather had been school teachers, my family wished me to take up a government job – for job security and to improve the family’s financial conditions. I would agree to do this, externally, but deep inside I didn’t want a regular nine to five job. I wanted one where I could utilise all my potential and implement all my ideas. I wanted to work with a free mind.

During college placements, I refused a few job offers, and went back to Varanasi, thinking I shall prepare for IES (Indian Engineering Services). But when I returned for my college reunion, I heard of an organisation called Avanti, working in the educational space, in the campus. The field of education has always fascinated me. Maybe because teaching has always been in my genes. I researched about the company and got to know how they work with young graduates and try to teach students differently, as well as focus on students from lower income backgrounds. Something clicked, I applied and got hired.

It’s Not Enough To Teach

I began teaching in the Kanpur Learning Centre. Over three years, I have witnessed my students getting into the best of colleges in India and abroad. That feeling of seeing my own students come out with flying colours just cannot be framed in a few words.

This was what I had been seeking in a job. My student Afzal Ahmad (now studying at IIT, Guwahati), is one example of a kid whose transformation has been amazing to witness. When he had first come to my class, he had average scores. He even worked hard to improve his scores but had failed. Eventually, he realised that learning is more important than scoring, and started focusing on learning using Avanti’s pedagogy, and automatically, his scores started improving. Today, when he is in town, he meets the current students, so that they can also feel inspired to learn as opposed to merely improving scores.

It is also extremely important to look at things that directly affect a student’s performance – family problems, economical issues, time management, friends, school related issues and any other distraction. These are some of the problems students face that no one likes to talk about. I noticed that an academically bright student was being very irregular in class. He was also performing poorly. One day when I asked him how much time he spent at home studying, “30 minutes,” was his response. After much coaxing, I got to know more. “Ghar pe padhai kar nahi pata sahi se. Mummy hamesha dant lagati, chhoti, chhoti chijo pe bhi” (I am not able to study at home as my mother scolds me for every small thing.) It turned out that his elder brother was the apple of his parents’ eyes, and this made him feel negative. But post a discussion with his father, things changed for the better. Now, he is back in class, and I can see that things are going right.

Asking Questions

I have many students who ask unexpected questions, and when they do, I feel nostalgic, seeing my own reflection in them. And I don’t punish them ever for being inquisitive. I try and solve their queries, because those who answered my questions (even the silly ones) in school, were among my favourite teachers. Those who laughed at my questions demotivated me. Having said that, I suggest students in my class to discuss their doubts with their peers first, as they might share a higher level of comfort.

These have been some of my greatest learnings as a teacher – first – always pay heed when someone has questions. Don’t ignore them. The second one – never give up on your students. Third – understand that people learn at different paces. Four – don’t just lecture them but also do things together (discussions, activities etc). Last but not the least – be a friend by knowing them more. I recently went out of town for a few days. When I returned, the way my students welcomed me was unimaginable. I felt like I had accomplished something big.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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