“When I first came to Delhi, I was introverted and felt lonely. However, joining the fellowship changed that for the better. It became a space where I didn’t have to worry about anything. I got to speak with many people and was able to freely express my opinion.”
— Navya, Youth-n-Democracy Fellow 2019-20
Navya was hesitant to apply for the fellowship as she was concerned that it would take time away from her pursuit of a Master’s degree in Commerce. However, the fellowship seemed like too good an opportunity to miss out on, and she decided to give it a shot. In retrospect, she could not have been happier with her decision. The experience of the fellowship made Navya more confident and open to new experiences, and at the same time, she grew to love her academic experience of studying commerce and decided to specialise in finance.
Navya recalls her first day at the fellowship as “nerve-wracking”, but she also remembers how the PRIA team made her feel at home using activities and ice-breakers. The team helped the fellows get to know each other and settle in their new lives for the next nine months. She says, “The mentors and supervisors of the programme always made themselves available for discussions which helped me process my own understandings of identity and democracy.”
Every module brought something new to Navya’s experience, prompting her to think innovatively and learn new skills. Each facilitator contributed to her understanding of herself and society, and how the two interact with each other. The fellowship also facilitated her engagement with ideas of democracy in everyday life and allowed her to develop her own perspective on this. Further, the interlinkages between gender, self, equality and society that the experience created for her is something she deeply values, as she is now able to approach issues with an intersectional lens.
Considering Navya’s budding interest in finance, Aman (another YnD fellow) teaming up with her to implement a Social Action Project on financial literacy came as no surprise. The duo created on online page to share advice and relevant information on financial matters, taking advantage of the digital advocacy skills learned through the fellowship. They also created a survey to learn more about financial habits of the people around them in the hope that it would start an open conversation amongst the people involved.
Navya felt “amazed at the responses”, happy that people wanted to be involved, share their experiences and learn more. Navya also decided to take it a step further and collaborate with people in a nearby village to discuss financial literacy with them. However, the lockdown prevented this project from progressing. She is keen to continue this when the Covid-19 situation improves in India.
Despite being shy and introverted at the start of the fellowship, Navya was able to grow into a confident individual who felt comfortable to even host a webinar for her social action project. The fellowship gave Navya the space to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures who speak different languages and make a diverse set of friends. This experience gave Navya the push she needed to put herself out there and start conversations with people and influence them on social issues that she is passionate about.