Meghalaya, Nov 3: The Aspire Meghalaya District Talent Events 2022 commenced on 6th October with events being held across districts during the months of October and November. The East Jaintia Hills, Ri Bhoi and South West Khasi Hills chapters held simultaneously today saw the display of 22 talents from 6 campuses in Khliehriat, 21 talents from 5 campuses in Nongpoh, and 22 talents from 5 campuses in Mawkyrwat, respectively.
Launched in March 2022, the Aspire Meghalaya initiative is focused on encouraging grassroot youth engagement, building critical soft skills for life, improving career aspirations, and identifying emerging talents across districts.
The programme is an initiative of the Directorate of Sports & Youth Affairs, Government of Meghalaya and supported by the State Education Mission Authority Meghalaya (SEMAM).
The project is implemented by Meghalaya-based Social Enterprise, AVENUES.
Aishwadaka Dkhar (Singing), Class 9, Rymbai Government Secondary School; Torimame Dkhar (Singing), Class 9, Sutnga Presbyterian Higher Secondary School; and Shreya Pal (Art & Craft), Class 12, Jaintia Eastern College were recognised as the Aspire Meghalaya District Stars from East Jaintia Hills. Anyzza Lyngdoh (Singing), BA 3rd Semester student from Ri Bhoi College; Banisha Kharsyntiew (Singing), Class 11, and Ribanshanbok Mawlong (Singing), Class 12 from Ferrando Higher Secondary School, Nongpoh, were recognised as the Aspire Meghalaya District Stars from Ri Bhoi.
Richard Marwein (Art & Craft), Class 11 from Nativity Higher Secondary School; Excellency Turnia (Musical Instruments), BA 1st Semester from Sngap Syiem College and Phibalari Thongni (Dancing), Class 9, St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School, Rangblang, were recognised as the Aspire Meghalaya District Stars from South West Khasi Hills.
A key highlight of the events was the felicitation of campuses who participated in the Meghalaya Youth Survey 2022 and Soft Skills Training interventions under Aspire Meghalaya. 18 campuses from East Jaintia Hills, 25 from Ri Bhoi and 14 from South West Khasi Hills were felicitated at the respective event locations.
A huge part of the Aspire Meghalaya initiative is the identification of amateur talents from across the State. Talent discovery platforms were integrated into the campus training interventions that have seen the emergence of 350 promising talents from across districts in talent spaces varying from singing, dancing, spoken word, sport performance and visual arts. Top 3 talents are selected by a panel of District Talent Committee members at each district event. 36 District Stars will converge at a State-level summit where Top State Stars will be recognised.
The District Talent Committee comprises of officials from the Education and Sports & Youth Affairs and Departments, as well as renowned personalities in various art spaces.
In his speech at the event in Mawkyrwat, Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar, Minister, Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, Government of Meghalaya, expressed his appreciation towards the Chief Minister, for his vision with respect to youth engagement and empowerment in the State. He said, “Besides talents in areas like singing and dancing, you have also shown the knowledge of public speaking, which is a core skill because you can go anywhere in the world, but you can never avoid public speaking”.
He went on to talk about how despite having the ideas and thoughts, our youth cannot express themselves with clarity because they believe are not gifted in spoken English. He said, “English is a foreign language, but I want to encourage you to speak whatever English you know, with courage. Don’t feel shy and don’t fear that your grammar may be wrong here and there.”
He continued by saying that the youth are the future of the State and empowering them today will help them achieve much as future leaders of the State. “You have been given this opportunity to build your confidence at this young age, and I know that because of this you will do better and succeed,” he said.
Speaking at the event in Khliehriat, Kyrmen Shylla, Minister of Social Welfare, Government of Meghalaya, said, “I express my gratitude to the Government of Meghalaya under the leadership of our Chief Minister and to all the stakeholders involved for providing this unique opportunity for hidden talents from even the corner-most parts of our State to be brought to light for all to see”. He reminded the students that each of their talents is unique and urge them not to resort to comparison, but to work at improving whatever talent they have wholeheartedly.
When you have a gift, be it your talent, your heart, or your experience, share it with everyone. We all want to see and touch the stars, but today I have been blessed to see with my own eyes, stars emerging from amongst us. We need to open our eyes, recognise them, provide them the guidance they need so that one day they will guide us and the State to greater heights,” he added.
Speaking at the event in Nongpoh, Frederick R Kharkongor, Commissioner & Secretary, Arts & Culture Department, Government of Meghalaya, said, “Aspire Meghalaya addresses critical issues amongst young people - to drive your passion and purpose forward, to give wings to your dreams while also reminding you about your roots”. He expressed his joy to see that the students are getting mentored, skilled and provided with bigger platforms to display their talents.
“It is my hope that programmes like these continue to be driven forward so that they move from local to global, while retaining the local spirit. All of you could be musicians, craftsmen and women, artists, but we should be rooted to nature and connected to culture because that is what Meghalaya is all about. We are a community that is intrinsically rooted to nature and connected to culture,” he continued.
He further added that it is about time that young talents are converted and monetised into livelihoods.
Chisemchi N Sangma, a Class 10 student from Ferrando Higher Secondary School, Umroi, delivered an inspiring speech where she encouraged her peers to conquer their fears with determination and persistence. She said, “If you are good at singing, sing as though the whole world is watching you. If you are good at drawing, draw as though this is the last chance you will hold a pencil. Fear not. Instead challenge your fear with a smile.”
Wymhasa Gympad, a Class 9 student from Sutnga Presbyterian Higher Secondary School, spoke of her Aspire experience saying, “The lessons from Aspire Meghalaya that have left the biggest impact on me are those on fear and public speaking. I have always been afraid of public speaking because I think that if I make one little mistake people will laugh at me and I will lose my confidence. But now I have learned that the more mistakes we make, the more we learn and grow. Since Aspire, I have been trying my best to grab every opportunity to speak in public using the stances and techniques I learnt from the programme”.
Baremdor Nongsiej, a Class 12 student from Nativity Higher Secondary School, Mawkyrwat shared about how the Aspire Meghalaya programme helped him build the confidence to host school programmes, to speak at science exhibitions with clarity and to deliver speeches in front on large audiences. “We the youth of Meghalaya have the potential to reach the top and Aspire has helped us build the confidence and self-belief to be successful in whichever path we choose,” he added.
Over the course of the year, over 64,000 youths from 332 campuses have been engaged in the Meghalaya Youth Survey and more than 13,000 students across 62 campuses have been trained in soft skills and career exploration programmes under the Aspire Meghalaya initiative.
Till date, 33 talents have been recognised from the 11 districts of Eastern West Khasi Hills, North Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills, West Jaintia Hills, South West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, East Khasi Hills, East Jaintia Hills, Ri Bhoi and South West Khasi Hills. 244 talent performances from 57 campuses across the 11 districts resulted in the recognition and felicitation of the Aspire Meghalaya District Stars.
It may be mentioned that the District Talent Events will conclude with the West Garo Hills Chapter in Tura on 8th November 2022.