Leadership Journey – Reshal Dahiya, Pravah


Reshal Dahiya, a Masters in Applied Psychology student from Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, who has always believed in action rather than words. She has been part of 8 months SMILE Fellowship and 9 months SMILE Professional Program at Pravah, achieved her goals and established herself as a doer.

Here, Reshal is sharing her experience being a SMILE Fellow and Professional at Pravah, Delhi. Her apprenticeship will certainly propel her ahead of the curve.

Go ahead and know what her story has to offer to aspiring youth so that you can easily find a path of self-growth.

How did you come to know about the internship?

Social media handle of Pravah

What was the location?

As a SMILE Fellow, the location of the place where I implemented my social action project was a peri-urban community known by the name of Sawda Ghevra in North West Delhi and the SMILE Professional Programme was work from home due to COVID-19 pandemic.

What were your responsibilities as an intern?

As a SMILE Fellow (Student’s Mobilization Initiative for Learning through Exposure) Programme which is an 8 month long learning and leadership journey, I organized training and capacity building sessions for young people between the age group of 13-20 years on the topic of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in a community known by the name of Sawda, Ghevra which is a resettlement colony in North West Delhi.

I designed and facilitated instructional sessions on topics of body mapping, reproductive health, aspirations, gender and sex, gender stereotypes. I conducted a small survey to understand the level of awareness about sexual health in the community and their ability to connect gender issues with the overall development of their community.

During the fellowship journey, I also went on a Rural Group exposure to Jatan Sansthan, an organization situated in a village known by the name of Rajsamand in Rajasthan and was based on the theme of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights where I coordinated with the participants and assisted the facilitators who were a part of the journey.

In February 2019, I was also anchoring the design team of Music for Harmony where I coordinated with the artists who were to perform for the event and designed the line up of events.

As a SMILE Professional, I am co-leading the SMILE Fellowship Programme Batch-6, where we conduct mobilization and assessment process of fellows, support the young people in implementing their social action projects on different thematics like Gender, Communal Harmony, Hunger, Road Safety, Quality Education.

The key responsibilities are supporting young people in designing and facilitation of their social action projects. In addition to this, we design and facilitate capacity building sessions for SMILE Fellows and manage different aspects of the programme such as finances, holding the mentoring piece, visibility.How much time did you contribute on a daily basis?As a SMILE Fellow, 2 hours per day and as a SMILE Professional, 4 hours per day.

Share your proudest achievements and how were you able to realise them.

As a SMILE Fellow, organizing the self to society day was a challenging yet a proud moment for me. Self to society day is an event that young people organize on social issues they are passionate about and is of immediate concern that needs to be addressed in society.

As part of the event, we collaborated with an organization known by the name of Nazariya Foundation to organize a gender training session with adolescent boys and girls on the theme of gender. In addition to this, we also organized a wall painting session based ongender equality. Through this session, we had been able to reach out to around 25 young boys and girls.

This was my first experience of organizing an event. I believe that I had been able to implement it due to the support of fellows and my mentor who guided me in detailed planning, budget, design, collaboration and implementation. Through the fellowship, it was evident that we were able to gain the trust of the parents of the adolescents in the community who willingly sent their children to our sessions which were possible by interacting with them and other community members.

Through the feedback received, it was found that the girls and boys were open to learning about topics like gender, stereotypes and looked forward to attending the sessions which are evident from increased participation in the activities conducted. Thus being able to mobilize people was a very major achievement for us.

What are the top learnings, skills and values that you acquired here?

My engagement with Pravah so far has contributed immensely in growing personally as well as professionally. I learnt about project management skills, design and facilitation, mentoring, relationship building and learning to use and getting comfortable with using technology such as Canva, Zoom etc.

I have gained clarity about my own attitudes and behaviours. As a result of interacting with fellows, community members, mentors in the youth intervention team of Pravah, I believe that my interpersonal and communication skills have got enhanced. This space has also helped me in becoming socially responsible and develop an understanding of the systems that we are a part of.

Being able to engage in reflection via different programmes and explore my authentic self and establishing authentic relationships with people from diverse backgrounds has enabled me to be mindful of others concerns and needs, become compassionate towards myself and others and has strengthened values of humanity and kindness.

Do you feel this experience is a stepping stone towards success in life? Illustrate how the experience gained will help you going forward in your career.

I think that I have been able to apply learning from a youth-friendly space that Pravah is in various aspects of my life. My experience of working with Pravah as a fellow has been a great learning opportunity of working on a social and practical issue that is of immediate concern in our society.

Working as a youth on the challenging subject of Sexual and Reproductive health through the fellowship gave me a chance to learn in a practice-oriented manner thus going beyond classroom learning that majorly focuses on academic achievement.

Working on designing our social action projects has enhanced my project management skills and strategies to work in a community. I have learnt to develop culturally appropriate material to evoke maximum participation from the community members and learnt methods of evaluating and reporting of the project.

I have learnt how to plan and design sessions, instructional material, activities. The course of the fellowship required interacting with community members, fellows, team members. Hence, I have been able to improve my communication skills and relationship building while working in the community. The fellowship required consistent coordination with youth intervention team members and establishing a partnership with other organizations, collaborations with other individuals, hence my ability to work together with people and establish authentic relationships via interactions with community members, girls and boys has strengthened.

Since addressing the topic of sex is a challenging matter, I have learnt to deal with demanding situations in the course of fellowship in a positive manner and develop a sense of ownership, openness to critical feedback and how to be assertive in a polite manner.

Anchoring the design team as part of Music for Harmony 2019, I have learnt to handle positions of responsibility, managing a team and coordinating with other team members. My experience of going on a rural group exposure helped me understand rural realities which are very different from my own and gained different perspectives as a result of interaction with people from diverse backgrounds.

The experiences that I have gained in the fellowship programme has helped me in being an effective youth worker and incorporate these skills into my journey as a SMILE Professional.

What is your advice to those, who are aspiring the same or a similar internship?

I would like to tell the young people to value openness to new experiences, building rapport with the people we engage with, co-create safe and inclusive spaces for all and respect confidentiality as people open up about different aspects of their lives by trusting another individual or space that is safe and accepting. Taking feedback from the target group helps in improving sessions

How can we (Friends, Family, YI Fraternity) encourage young students such as yourself to involve themselves in different opportunities?

We can talk to young people about the opportunities, hold webinars that build knowledge around the development sector and how to connect with organizations, support young people in being able to negotiate their fears and challenges.

We at Young Influx would take this opportunity to thank Reshal for taking a leap of faith and sharing her impeccable story. We are humbled and grateful, your efforts mean a lot for the youth seeking growth and development.

And hello, dear readers, we welcome you to explore the platform with an open mind. Help yourself gain most out of the experiences and opportunities listed here.

And before you bid us adieu, we would like you to know that you can read more such student stories here.

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