SHILLONG, Aug 30: Over 1,000 students from college campuses and schools of the West Khasi Hills District of the State gathered at the Tirot Sing Memorial Hall at Mairang to celebrate the completion of programmes under the Aspire Meghalaya initiative in the district.
Participants graduated from an intensive 20-hour curriculum focused on imparting Soft Skills, Life Coaching and Well-being practices to young ones from classes 6 to 9 and young adults in Higher Secondary School and College. It may be mentioned that Aspire Meghalaya is supported by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and implemented through the Department of Arts and Culture, Government of Meghalaya through State Partner, AVENUES Shillong.
The workshops conducted by AVENUES are aimed at making tribal youth in the state career-ready, confident and emotionally resilient, while creating a unique platform for every child to recognize a talent and identify a career aspiration.
Speaking at the occasion, Lahkmen Rymbui, Minister of Education for the Government of Meghalaya commended the students for their performance and transformation. “These are the words which enable you to live, understand yourself and move ahead. Sometimes we think that the opportunities aren’t there and focus on how we are lagging behind. But when I see your performances and testimonies today, I know you are second to none. You are unique in your own self. You are Meghalaya, the youth of today. The mind of Meghalaya is in you. If we join hands together we can realise the beautiful, full potential of the state.” The Minister urged the young students to constantly reinvent, reskill themselves and relearn through life. “You are fortunate to have the Government of India and the Government of Meghalaya supporting you through this project and many others. Recently the Chief Minister has launched a support programme for preparing aspirants for the Civil Service Examinations. We have programmes in mind for every strata of society with this government.”
SDO, Mairang Civil Sub-division, Alertson Nongsiej, who felicitated the students of St Thomas Higher Secondary School with Certificates of Participation, recounted his own time with AVENUES during his early MCS training at the Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute, saying that he owed his confidence to the organization as well. “Each one of us has an aspiration. ‘I will, I can’ should be your motto always. This programme goes into boosting your personality development and communication skills and we are fortunate to have the support of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for our youth.” He also urged the young voters present to participate in the Election Commission of India’s ‘Electoral Voter Participation’ by coming forward to check the correctness of their EPIC cards.
Chairman, State Expert Appraisal Committee, Naba Bhattacharjee congratulated the audience and principals at the programme while urging the students to practice their newly acquired skills. “Your aspirations are palpable. While our education department is opening up new vistas in education for the state, this training is not an end in itself. It is an empowerment milestone in your journey. Our boys and girls in Meghalaya are no less and shine even amongst those in the mainland when they focus on their goals. What is needed is fine tuning through confidence and values based programmes like Aspire Meghalaya. You are torchbearers for the rest of the youth now. I can see that this training has worked wonders to build your confidence but I urge you to use these skills in your daily life.”
The highlight of the programme was a moving performance that brought together all students from St Thomas Higher Secondary School, Tirot Sing Memorial College, Khadsawphra College and Mairang Presbyterian Science College singing their anthem for change – “Sound of Survival” made popular across the districts through the Aspire Meghalaya programme. The production was the largest such gathering ever staged in the District and brought the audience to a standing ovation.
A number of youngsters showcased their talents honed through the workshops. Rose Kharsyntiew of Mairang Presbyterian Science College sung the Elvis classic on guitar “Can’t help falling in Love” to a warm reception, while an original Khasi Folk Song “Mei Mariang” written by Balasiewdor Ryntathiang performed by Sita Mary Kharmawphlang from Khadsawphra College left the audience mesmerized. An inspired performance of a Khasi Phawar by the students of Khadsawphra College had the audience on their feet. “Kamai ia ka Hok” made popular by the Rock On 2 featured band- Summersault, was performed with finesse by Christine Sawkmie of Mairang Presbyterian Science College. Local dance sensation, Stave Thabah of Mairang Presbyterian Science College set the stage alight with a Michael Jackson versus Prabhu Deva styled dance routines.
Capping a day of high energy, Principal, Mairang Presbyterian Science College, Shri R Thangkhiew said, “Having an education is important but it must go hand in hand with practical knowledge which can be applied in real life situations. I have witnessed first-hand your growth and was delighted to see how our students pursuing their dreams in an exclusively Science stream college, demonstrated their abilities and talents in singing, dancing and other performing arts as well.”
“I was always afraid of public speaking. It is through this programme that I am able to stand here right now without any fear and deliver this speech. The other important lesson that I have learned through this programme is how we think about leadership – how to lead and where to lead.” said Victory Paul Basaiawmoit of Tirot Sing College in his testimony of his experience. Paul followed this up with a haunting rendition of the Khasi Folk song, “U Khnam”.
Queen Basaiawmoit of St Thomas Higher Secondary School set the tone for the day with a self-composed poem called “Goals in Life”. “Every time I rise, every time I fall, imagining where is that Mercy. But for once and for all, what if it’s meant for the best in me? Losing hope is the thing I feared. Many who pull for themselves to climb, inspiration I seek there and here, to see the Sun which shines. But rise or fall there is a desire, to breathe the air on top of the mountain. And that is called, Aspire. With brightness and pride, I will win.”
Through Avenues’ team of Life Coaches and Soft Skills Instructors, Aspire Meghalaya intends to impact the lives of over 4,000 youth across 8 districts in the weeks ahead. The programme was earlier launched by Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma at a similar event held at Nongpoh, Ri-Bhoi District earlier this year.