Reflection on CAS project- ASTH
This was one of the most interestingly initiated plans that came up to us! Just before the day of India’s 68 years of Independence, my friend came up with the idea of doing a flash mob for the celebration on such an auspicious day! As the idea seemed interesting to me, I signed up for being in-charge (with my three other friends).
1st flash mob: Independence Day celebration (15th August 2015)
We had a lot of work to be done as it was a spontaneous plan. We decided on our plan by 6:00 pm on 14th and only had about half a day to prepare and then to execute. We had to decide upon the songs to dance on and choreograph them, prepare a drama related to our idea and most of all take permission from the event manager of the mall where we wanted to perform; which was a challenge. This flash mob, our intention was to inform on the subject of- problems faced by people due to religious and caste based discrimination. As we planned on working on social issues we had to be really careful of not to hurt anyone’s emotions and to do something that is morally and ethically wrong. We (Vidushi and I) decided to choreograph the dance, for which we had worked the whole night. The problem here was that we had less time before our grand move and till 8 in the night we didn’t even have the parody of our songs ready, volunteers to participate with us in this and to top it all, most of our friends could not help us by volunteering; and response that we received were “don’t do it”, “You will not be able to succeed”, “your plan is not good enough and won’t work”, etc. Due to all such criticism that we heard from our friends, we (Sakshi, Vidushi, Unnati and I [the organizers]) started to lose our confidence and it was all heartbreaking, but I tried to cheer them all up and tried to be optimistic. At this point in time, I was filled with gratitude of our parents for keeping faith in us and supporting and encouraging us every time even when every other didn’t and when we thought that we would not be able to succeed. So by the end of 14th we did our best and choreographed the dance with a little bit help from YouTube, took ideas from our siblings to help us in composing a drama script, had created a page on social networking site (Facebook) to gather public and to inform them and last but not the least created our logo and finalised on the design.
On 15th I was so excited and tensed that I woke up at 5 in the morning and meet with Vidushi to work on our script. When we all meet at Sakshi’s place, I was so happy to see that few of our parents and relatives decided to volunteer for us, even though how uncomfortable they felt performing in front of such a huge crowd. That was the time when I realized that how grateful we were to have such a family with us. I was really happy to have such a group which knew that we were in a lot of pressure and hence everyone gave their 100% of efforts. Within the next 5 hours, we had to assemble at our destination and we still had a lot to do; we worked on coaching everyone -most of them being non-dancers- to dance on the steps that we choreographed, rehearsed the drama with cousins and compose & practise the song on the same. Later, we were still left to take permission from the event managers of the mall, so I went with Unnati to ask for permission. Now here was another challenge for me, I am not good with putting words forward and I had to convince someone to use their resources in such a short time, but when we meet the event manager, I felt that I was in the seventh heaven because the event manager was someone I got to know recently. This just helped me communicate my thought better because I could see the likeliness of the ball being in our court! I felt happy that I socialised; I talked to her about the things we needed and luckily for us they could provide all of it.
During our show, the good part was that we could gather a whole lot of crowd to audience our performance but, due to this the sound from the speakers that we used was inaudible to the crowd watching us from the top (3rd) floor. This became worse when using the collar mike while acting out the drama. To overcome this challenge all that we could do was use the maximum of our voice level to speak, which resulted in having badly sworn throat for a week. During the dance performance, we also realized that we had lost a few props that we planned on using while dancing. All these things that were happening just made us doubt our efforts, the quality of our work and so the response of the audience.
Even after all the challenges and wrongs that we had faced in the two days, we got a lot of compliments from the audience, the friends that criticized us earlier and of course our supporting and caring family members. This was the time when I felt proud of all the hard work that I and everyone else had put in to make the event such a success. I did not feel bad about all the problems that we had to go through, the criticism that we had to hear and the sleep that I had to compromise upon :P! This was one of the most enriching experiences of my life where I had learned so much. After all, all’s well when it ends well!
2nd flash mob: Teacher’s Day (5th September, 2015)
The second mob, we thought of doing it on teacher’s day, we thought of taking the issue of illiteracy in our country. For this mob, we were well planned and this time, we had more than 40 volunteers. By just looking at the list of the ones that wanted to join our group, made me feel happy and proud that our first mob did not only completed the purpose of making people aware of their action but the mob also helped us earn volunteers; we did not only found volunteers from our grade but also many other grades (which just showed how amazing our work was to persuade people without our telling them to join).
As we were well planned for the mob and it was no such challenge, this time, we decided to challenge our capabilities by deciding to make our mob effective enough for the people to be persuaded to donate money to an organization that is working for educating underprivileged children on a roadside.
The one thing that has always been a problem for me is the thought that working with people from slum areas is that they are not well cleaned and people from these places are well known for their unhygienic behaviours. This mentality of mine always makes me cringe when a person living in that is near or even around me, making me uncomfortable to work with them, effectively. So when I was given the task to make them practise for the performance that included them to perform, it was a personal confront for me to overcome this mentality of mine, which was for me as difficult as using the correct English on the first go without any grammatical error. After working with them, I won’t say that I overcame this mentality of mine but I tried to cope with it.
This time, also we had to face certain technical issues while performing like the only a few people could hear the ones performing a skit. Talking about the skit, when the dance performances were over and we started it people started to vanish like an evaporating water. It was really heart breaking for a while, and so to gain audience’s attention back we had performed our dance again. This plan of our worked to gain attention and for the fact we understood that we are not going to perform drama for our next mob, if that’s what makes our audience lose interest.
When the performances were over, Unnati and I went to collect donation from the people shopping around the mall. We went to collect donation from shoppers from the ground floor to the top floor and in the food court as well. When collecting donation, there was this one incident that took places, where when we were asking if the shoppers could don’t even a single rupee the children would benefit, so one of the shoppers actually donated only a coin of 1 rupee, although I felt good The one thing that I felt by the time we were asking for donations in the food court was that people were not donating money for the children but to shoo us away and let them enjoy their time. This made me realize, that we should not have gone to the floor asking a particular groups but just be there and go around announcing so if anyone thought that if our work was good enough they would have donated money without us going around asking for it. (By the way, we collected a good sum of money! And obviously we donated it to the NGO for which we felt grateful!)
Our third and final Mob: 10th October, 2015 (Garba fest)
Till this time we had learned quite a few lessons, that is to check the speakers before hand in a huge crowd without any one suspecting so that we know that people will be able to listen or not; second, to stop performing informative dramas as people don’t really get awareness through it; and thirdly, never ever, ever go around for asking for donation in a place like malls.
To do things a bit differently from our other mobs, we planned to mob an actual event this time. But because IB is all about ethical considerations we could not do it without the event organisers consent we had to give them a clue as to what our intentions were. So, this became a mob only for the ones enjoying the event.
The theme of this mob was women empowerment, as the event was based on the celebration of the victory of Indian goddess over evil i.e. ‘The Navratri’; also as this was going to be our last mob and all of us organizers of the group were females, we thought that this would be the perfect theme. We planned to do dances related to garba. When practising for this mob we knew that we are going to have enough volunteers for our mob for it to be successful, we wanted the dances to be energetic enough for the audience to want to see our performances again, and the volunteers had to give their 110% of efforts. I was so caught up in making people doing their best that I sometimes got angry on why they are not practising, which was bad on my part.
There was this one girl that did not dance well and made terrible sync mistakes, so to avoid a bad performance, we had decided to tell her that she won’t be able to be a part of this, as she is not able to do well. But just a day before when we were going to break this news to her, in the night, the girl’s parents had called me telling that she is a girl suffering from asthma and that we ask her to not put so many efforts as she is not listening to what her parents are telling her and as she is facing breathing problems when she reached home. This call of about 5 minutes, made me think of how judgemental we were, especially I, and this made me think about myself for more than 5-6 hours, this call just made me change my paradigm about that girl. So, the next day I talked to my group and told them about the phone call, and I got the same reaction from them, shocked and guilty. This phone call did not just made me think of my actions but also made me check myself! What my thoughts have become? This call acted like a self check-point for my life and helped me improve and refresh my thoughts.
This mob was one of the best mobs of all the three that we did; there were minimum management problems we faced and people enjoyed this mob the most.
I loved this three months journey of mine, which taught me so much and gave me so many life lessons. This was the most amazing activity of all that I did throughout the year.