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  Volume 4 - Issue 04
APRIL 2006
 
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UNIQUE SOFT SKILLS SERVICE BY HYDERABAD SAI YOUTH

The story of how the Sai Youth in Hyderabad organized a unique IT (Information Technology) and Soft Skills
(computer programming) workshop for teenagers and through that brought moving transformation in their lives.


“Hello brothers,

I do not know how to express my gratitude. You have inspired us so much. My classmates and I have started to go to an orphanage next to our colony in Secunderabad to teach children in the evenings instead of going to the disco. Really, our country needs us and you have made us realize this by showing us the way. The IT workshop was so well conducted. We gained lots of insights. Also, we shared with our other classmates. Thank you for inspiring us to be part of nation building. This is what we need. No politics - only service. Hats off to your Baba. Thanks. K. Raghuram, Aurora Engineering College.”

This is what one participant wrote back after going through the unique Seva initiative undertaken by Sai Youth in Hyderabad. What is this new kind of service which had such a profound impact on the teenager-participants? Read on to find out.

What in the Relation of Information Technology with Spirituality?

In the second week of February, 2006, the Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad (Hyderabad is the Capital of the State of Andhra Pradesh, India) were witness to what was undoubtedly a one-of-a-kind Seminar organized by Sri Sathya Sai Organizations, Hyderabad - an IT and Soft Skills workshop for fresh graduates. It was delivered by leaders from the Industry and was christened as “Voices from the Field”.

What has IT and Soft skills got to do with Sai organization and spirituality, you might think. Well, IT may not have anything to do with spirituality but spirituality surely has a lot to do in every field and IT is no exception. You will know more about this as you read along. First let’s start with how the idea took root, in the first instance.

 
   
Hyderabad in India

The First Step - The 7 Day Management Workshop

Actually, the concept of workshops/seminars for the student community started back in September 2005 under the name of “Management Saptaham” (that is, a Week of Management) where for 7 days working professionals spoke to the students of Sri Sathya Sai Free Tutorials on topics like Communication Skills, How to Face Interviews, Time Management, Personality Development etc. Speakers were primarily members from the Sri Sathya Sai Organizations itself. The students of the tutorial received this very well and even later expressed their desire to be a part of more such seminars.

Next - The 3 Day ‘Success Planning’ Workshop

Further pondering upon the subject led the Youth to think that in today’s context it is essential that “we bring forth the values imbibed in the teachings of Bhagavan and build a sense of National Pride among the students for our culture and history.” And this was the genesis of “Success Planning” - A soft-skills workshop for today’s youth.

It took about 1 month to plan and execute this 3-day workshop (6pm – 9pm on Fri and Sat; 10am – 2pm on Sun). Posters and banners were put in Degree colleges; our Sai brothers approached college managements to nominate deserving candidates; a Community Hall was booked for the same; scrolling advertisements were put in local TV channels; and leaders from the corporate world were invited to lecture and share their knowledge with the students. The project was scaled-up to accommodate nearly 400 students (as compared to 100 in Management Saptaham).

 
Packed hall for "Success Planning"
 
Inspiring skit on Nation Building

The response was overwhelming! Students queued up an hour before the scheduled start time, and used the opportunity thoroughly by interacting with the guest lecturers well after the seminar was over. On the final day, a skit on Nation Building was presented and as an immediate service opportunity, a blood-grouping camp was arranged for volunteers.

“There were many lessons for us in terms of organizing such events”, says a youth coordinator and continues, “We realized that the invited students formed a very heterogeneous group making it difficult for us to cater to their very specific needs; renting an auditorium resulted in huge expenses as did the advertising campaign used to invite the students.”

Finally - The 5 Day Workshop - ‘Voices From the Field’

Wiser from the experience of the previous two conferences and able to be more effective in their presentation, the Sai Youth conducted a workshop from Feb 8 through Feb 12, 2006 entitled “Voices From The Field”. This was focused in catering to the needs of 300 odd students who wanted to pursue their careers in the IT industry. Spread over 5 days and for more than 3 hours a day, this workshop brought the best people from the Industry - Project and Programme Managers, Functional Leaders and CEOs on to one platform.

 
Country Head of Nokia interacting with the students
 

Corporate Heads’ panel discussion


The Agenda for the 5 days
Date
Time
Topic
February 8th
6:30 - 9:30 pm
  Overview of the IT Industry
February 9th
6:30 - 9:30 pm
  Software Eng., Quality Assurance
February 10th
6:30 - 9:30 pm
  IT Enables Services,video conference with a Consultant in the USA
February 11th
6:30 - 9:30 pm
  Personality Development/Communication Skills
February 12th
9:30 - 5:00 pm
  How to face interviews, Insight into Success Planning, Question/Answer session with panel of experts.

 
Famous Personality Development Guru BV Pattabhiram
making a presentation
 
Mr Pattabhiram working on a student’s presentation skills

 

Topics on Day 2 and 3 helped the students derive an insight into each of the above-mentioned areas, as they are in the practical world and helped them understand what it takes to get into their area of interest.

In order to help them understand what should or should not be done in interviews, some of the participants were invited a week before the start of the seminar, where a mock interview was conducted and the whole scenario video taped (of course faces were masked!).

These videos were then played on Day 5 with industry experts commenting on the different scenarios.

Students listening with rapt attention...
   

 
A presentation on “How to face interviews” from
a Training leader in GE
 

Director of a Medium-sized software
company making a presentation on the industry

The session on Insight into Success Planning focused beyond the Philosophy of Expressions, Behaviors and Attitudes to more Indian Values and Beliefs and the one common Spirit which binds each one of us, and how all these contribute to the “Success” of an individual.

Shivam and Its Impact

 
Presentation on the Sri Sathya Sai Organization's activities
 

Students having lunch between sessions
in Sivam on the final day

The programme was conducted in Sivam (Swami’s ashram in Hyderabad) and was very well received by the audience. A presentation on service activities conducted by the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations was also given to the students who responded very positively and more importantly came forward to take part in such activities in the future. In fact one of the students was so inspired that he wanted to start right away and offered to arrange the chairs in the Sivam Meeting Hall from the very next day. “It was very inspiring for all of us to watch this…it was worth the effort!” says a Sai youth coordinator.

And as you can read from the below feedback from a participant, the workshop was a resounding success!

Let me congratulate you for conducting a brilliant workshop. Frankly, I used to think that Sivam temple was a religious center. And that nothing except bhajans and poojas happens there. But, it was only after I attended this workshop that I came to know of the many service activities you are all doing so silently. Really, it is mind blowing. We, in our college have decided to participate in nation building as suggested by you. We have decided that we will visit hospitals on every Saturday as it is half day for us. And we will take fruits for the patients. Thank you all.

R. S. Subbarao and friends, Deccan College of Engineering.

Some of the speakers actually offered to look at some of the students for potential employment, which was a “total surprise to everyone and also a big boost to morale” says another Sai Youth.

 

The expenses for an auditorium were eliminated by using the Sivam Premises, which also lent an inspiring atmosphere to the proceedings. Advertising costs were cut down by enrolling students ahead of time by visiting their colleges.

How the Workshop Came About

Sai brothers toiled day and night for 2 weeks to put the programme together. After 8-10 hours at their jobs, they met in Sivam in the evenings to plan the event. Some of them missed lunches at work just to be able to visit the colleges and interact with the students. Many of them were there in Sivam on working days also to take care of the seating, audio-video arrangements, to ensure that all the guests were comfortable and that the programme would run without any interruptions.

Students interacting with one of the speakers -
the Project Manager of a company
   

The Most Important Point….

What was interesting to note however was that the leaders from the various corporates who came over to address the students spoke of Values and Integrity as essentials they look at. Obviously students who have impressionable minds absorbed these facts as they heard it directly from the horse’s mouth. When the corporate highfliers - people students emulate - speak about values and ethics, the impact is certainly noticeable.

 

The examples given from real life corporate scenarios, where values play a major part, were impressive and ensured that the message was driven home. In fact one of them even said that “If you have Integrity and Values, nothing else matters.” Impressed with the workshop, one participant said,

This has been a great and rare opportunity to find such a wonderful platform of IT Market update - and that too from such experienced personalities in the industry. I am fortunate to get such blessings from Baba.

This has really built a lot of confidence within me. And further helped me in understanding how to go on in the IT industry at various levels. Thank you very much once again for conducting such a valuable workshops. - Sridhar Kannuri.

Panel of Experts
   

“We certainly look forward to conducting many more such workshops to benefit the student community and at the same time help in building a better India - a value based India ,” say the Sai Youth of Hyderabad in one unified voice.

The student participants seemed not only to benefit by learning new skills, but also were enriched in their hearts as Kalyan of Shadan Engineering College says,

Your workshop was best quality. I had paid 2500 rupees and attended a soft skill workshop conducted in the city. Neither were the presenters so good nor was the whole workshop. Your idea of having video conferencing with a software professional from US was really unique. And it is still unbelievable that you did all this for free. Amazing! We did not know that good people are still around. Now we know why Sathya Sai Baba is worshipped - it is because He inspires you.

Wish u all the best, Kalyan, Shadan Engineering College.

 

For the Sai Youth, their inspiration and strength is Sai. They tell us how Swami made His presence felt by the occasional drop of the flower. They felt His presence throughout.

We pray that they have more such opportunities of service in the future - helping themselves, others, society, the nation and more importantly, being effective instruments in His hands. Heart2Heart wishes them all the best.

- Heart2Heart Team.


 
     
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Vol 4 Issue 04 - APRIL 2006
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