Shillong: 43 students of Shillong Public School graduated from ‘Aspire Meghalaya’ at a function held in the school premises in Shillong here today.
In a bid to equip tribal youth with critical soft skills and life coaching interventions, Aspire Meghalaya is a unique initiative sponsored by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, through the Department of Arts & Culture, Government of Meghalaya and implemented by AVENUES, Northeast India’s pioneering Life Coaching Social Enterprise.
Speaking on the occasion, F. R. Kharkongor (IAS), Commissioner & Secretary, Department of Arts & Culture, Government of Meghalaya, said, “The youth are the infinite resources and human capital of the State. I visualize Aspire Meghalaya as ‘Roots & Wings’. Wings to help you soar and succeed in life by helping you build your confidence, conquer your fears and celebrate your talent. Roots to help you stay grounded in your culture because when you go out into the world, you will need to be proud ambassadors of your culture.”
Congratulating the efforts of the implementation partner and the school on their united efforts to successfully facilitate the program, he added that the kind of experiential teachings that Aspire Meghalaya delivers will help prepare the students for the real world and real life.
Fiona Momin, Class 10, delivering an impassioned speech, said, “Aspire Meghalaya has taught me that having a purpose in life gives me a reason for being. I believe that if you know your reason for being in this world, you will gradually learn how to tackle the world and whatever it has in store for you. That way you can contribute your best to the world which only you and no one else can. It begins with self-belief and self-reflection.”
Joshua Sohliya, a Class 10 student, spoke about how the programme has helped him overcome his fear of public speaking and understand the importance of having a growth mindset. “Aspire Meghalaya has taught me the need to accept and adapt to change in order to grow and become a better version of myself,” he said.
Aaron Warjri, Principal, Shillong Public School, said, “After losing a whole year of schooling to Covid-19, today we bear testimony to the improved levels of confidence, capacity, skills and aspirations which our students have picked up in the last month with Aspire Meghalaya. I’m sure the capacity-building that has been achieved during this time will prove useful to them throughout their lives.”
Also speaking on the occasion was Mark Laitflang Stone, Avenues’ Managing Director, who urged the students to leverage their lives’ struggles as opportunities for growth and success. “Challenges allow you the freedom to explore because there’s nothing keeping you boxed in. They are what makes you special. What makes you YOU. Owning your challenges enables you to accept your uniqueness and allows room for you to let your individuality shine,” he said.
Besides instilling tribal youth with improved communication skills, clarity and confidence through soft skills training and life coaching workshops, a huge part of the initiative this year is to provide a platform for youth to showcase their talents across music, singing, performance arts, literary arts, cultural and indigenous practices along with unique opportunities to explore alternative careers.
The graduation audience was enthralled by the diverse talents of the students ranging from a moving poetry recital of the famous Khasi ballad ‘Ki Mawlynnai’ to a heartfelt rendition of Supermarket Flowers, and a delightful performance of Khasi folk song, ‘Por Tamasa’.
Aspire Meghalaya 2020-21 has kicked off across select districts of the state since December, with each chapter culminating in a talent display at the graduation programmes. Top 6 talents will be selected from each district to compete in the State’s first ever Virtual Talent Hunt platform called ‘Aspire Meghalaya Megastar’ for the Top 22 slots from where an Aspire Meghalaya Megastar will emerge. These talents will be documented and connected to forward opportunities to help propel their aspirations and open up alternative careers.
To date, Aspire Meghalaya has over 2000 students registered across 8 districts and campuses in Williamnagar, Tura, Mawkyrwat, Mairang, Nongpoh, Umsning, Shillong, Sohkha, Narwan and Kyndong Tuber. It may be mentioned that Aspire Meghalaya is expected to impact over 4000 tribal youth beneficiaries in this year’s edition across the State in the months ahead.