- Empathy, not ‘gyan’, sets apart B-school project for troubled teens with activities to beat the blues
From The Telegraph
XLRI students during a session under Samarthya at Motilal Nehru Public School in Jamshedpur earlier this week
Students of XLRI have been there, done that. They know how vulnerable teenagers are when bouts of depression and low self-esteem hit them.
Though they are seen as corporate honchos in the making, they are making sure they have time for troubled teens between 15 and 18 with a project called Samarthya — The Human Potential Centre.
Launched on July 23, the project, if it catches on, can be a boon for Jamshedpur that is grappling with student suicide. After all, those between 15 and 18 years go through two board exams, pressure to excel in academics and crack entrance exams, campus love, heartbreak and increasingly, body image issues where pimples and obesity are major triggers for depression.
Samarthya aims to help older students at school discover their potential, control emotions and share thoughts with someone who understands.
A group of around 10 students from Business Management (BM) and Human Resource Management (HRM) are already taking sessions with the teens. The first took place at Motilal Nehru Public School (MNPS).
Teenagers fearing the dreaded G-word — gyan — or preaching will be pleasantly surprised.
“It is not counselling. We don’t sit with students and solve their problems. It is beyond that. We take sessions on emotions and try to help them deal with them. Each session is dedicated to one emotion and we conduct activities on it,” said Smriti Khanna, a second-year HRM student and part of Samarthya.
A session on anger, for instance, will start by letting students vent out on paper, asking them to write down their impulses when they feel furious. Then comes a lively discussion on how to get out of this negative emotion.
“The teens don’t want gyan. We help them to know themselves through experiential learning and discover what lies within. At times they also ask questions on how to behave in a given situation. We share a lot,” said Smriti.
“It is a great initiative on the part of XLRI students to reach out to the school-going youths of the city to help them understand the purpose and meaning of a happy life,” said I.S.F. Irudayaraj, a senior faculty member of the B-school who conceptualised the programme.
Samarthya has an ambitious year-end goal of reaching out to 700 students, rolling out the programme in many schools. It also wants dedicated members for each class to ensure continuity and create a sort of buddy system.
Principal of Motilal Nehru Public School Ashu Tiwary sounded happy with the programme. “Students gel well with these bright B-school students as the age difference isn’t much, so they open up. It will help them keep negative thoughts at bay,” she said.