Anna Daniel, AUW (Asian University for Women)
“I burned some books, because I believe in passing my younger generation something which is good and wise for them, not a as a destroyer.” (Kurian, AFRC Book House customer).
You should give others what you like; not what you do not like. Burning books to block the negative thoughts spreading can be a debatable topic. The negative or positive thoughts which you consider might not be the same for the other. However, the words of Kurian marked a deep thought inside me. Most of the time, we try to avoid the things which we do not like. We give our clothes to others which we do not like, or which we feel doesn’t suit us. While eating food we keep aside a dish which we do not like. We often pass something which we do not like, seldom do we pass something which we like or we love. I feel this point has something deep inside it for us to think, it has something deep to convey to us. This week I was assigned to record all the books and open a book shop for AFRC.
Learning happens when we connect our knowledge and experiences in a field to another. Working as a library assistant in AUW (Asian University for Women) has helped me a lot in organizing the book shop. I was known how to catalog and keep recording of the books. I was quite familiar with publishers, authors, title and price of the books. For me the biggest challenge in this task was to beautifully organize a library in its limited space considering the fact that we have plenty of books. At the end I am happy that I was able to manage everything. I am grateful to all those helping hands which made it possible. It pleased my eyes, to see how beautiful it looks. Opening a book shop was really a great experience and learning. My eyes were opened for capturing new images and my mind was opened to let something new come in.
Skimming through the books, the child in me showed keen interest in the children’s section. My first observation was with experiencing how beautifully are children’s books painted and written with all the art and colors; they are beautiful and live than the game and cartoon characters pictured on the screen. In books, images tell you the story, you can touch and feel it; at times you can create your own story for the images. And this is where we need to think twice before buying video games for our children. Second observation being a librarian was on carefully studying my customers.
Don’t judge a man in lungi, bald head or grey hair; you never know the Master inside him. With my experience in staying in the book shop, I felt it was grandparents who were our awesome readers. In their first appearance they might look very old, uneducated; but believe me, they are not the kind what you might think of. The knowledge they have, the book collection they hold to, the experience they have; and at any time they are ready to share them with you. This is why wise people say do not judge a man with his appearance; you never know. This was a wow factor for me, because it was not the kind of customers I expect that I experienced!
While sitting in the library I saw many youngsters passing around, but seldom did anyone step into the book collection to just take a look on. Or maybe I could say that they didn’t notice the board written “AFRC book festival” they were too busy with their fingers typing. This was highly disappointing. I agree the world is changing, everything is online, but still books and the stories in it own a respect which will never fade away. We always need to remember that we created these technology and we own them; never allow technology own us.
Avani. C. S
It was midnight. The wind‘s howling sounded like wails. I was alone in the dark room of the castle. White shredded curtains and a shattered mirror added to the ghostly atmosphere. The door locked itself. I had a candle in my hand.
A few minutes passed in loneliness. At the blink of an eye a man in a black cloak with a blood-red rose in his hand appears before me. Frightened, I asked, “Who are you?” The man replied, “I am the ghost of the king who lived in this castle”.
I screamed and ran out of the room. The ghost didn’t follow me. I went to another room. This time there was a painting, a woman’s portrait. The room was cold but humid. The moon became red with black clouds. Below was the name.
It mentioned, Midnight Rose, 1610-1626. A short lived maiden. It had a beautiful maiden wearing a flower crown on her silky brown hair on it. For a moment there I thought the painting came to life. But it did. It talked to me in a sweet never-heard voice.
She said, “Please get me out of here”.
How could I deny such a sweet request? “But how?’’ I asked.
“Take my hand and come into this painting with me” she said as she stretched her hand. I held her hand and she pulled me in. I was surprised about getting inside a painting.
She gave me a map and explained, “We need to go to the fire trench of doom which is in the dragon ocean where the dragon king rules. We have to go there without being caught otherwise the dragons are going to eat us. In the trench we’ll find a maze and pass through without getting lost. At the end we’ll see a cup of crystal filled with magical water and then I have to drink it. If I do that I’ll be free from that curse of the king.
“King?” I asked.
“Yes the cruel, mysterious king of this now- haunted palace who slaughtered many. I was his maid. One day as I was bringing him his drink, I tripped and the drink fell on him. Then as punishment he even tried to kill me and I was cursed into this painting when I became a ghost and he spread the rumour that I died falling off a cliff. He was a cruel magician king. Would you please help me young friend?” She asked me. I agreed and we both set off on the quest for the magical water.
It was a five day journey and we hoped no foes would show up.
The first day was quite safe except night time. We had to go to a forest with magical beasts and wild monsters. We were almost discovered by one of them. We went a long way to an enchanted lake where the enchantress rules. We took shelter there for the night.
The kind enchantress said, ’Dear maidens, you may spend the night on our tree with the tame fireflies. You say you are going to the great fire trench of doom. It is a dangerous journey. We showed our gratitude by giving her all our honey and fruits and she gave us a magical stone pendant in return. I wore it and we set off again. We reached a lake and as the enchantress explained, I took of the pendant, chanted a spell and dropped it into the water. Rose didn’t know about what the pendant does or the consequences of using it.
The water turned dark and I took a step closer. To my horror, I slipped and fell in. The mystical water made my body heavy and that’s all I remember.
I woke up a little later and saw Rose leaning over me, all soaked. “What did you do up there?! The water sucked you in.” She said “I jumped to get you back and here we are in an underwater crystal cave.”
“You mean, it sucked you in too?”I said and she nodded. “Don’t worry we’re in the dragon ocean and I’m guessing that’s the fire trench.”I pointed to the other end of the cave.
Rose looked too and her face brightened up.
We went inside. So far, so good. We sneaked in through a bunch of sleeping dragons who scared our hearts out. To my surprise, we got the magical water and we both drank it.
Since time doesn’t move in a painting, she returned with me to the real world as a pretty young lady. She started living with me and we moved to the plains where we lived in a cute little cottage surrounded by trees and bushes and animals visiting us every morning. We have a peaceful life without some King and his curse.
“I wonder what happened to him”
Roshni P Nair Kendriya Vidyalaya class X
Academic Forum for Research and Communication ,known as AFRC is an institution to develop the future India.It will develop the country in it’s at most top level in all section of development.
I joined the institution on 6th May 2016,which I consider as a life changing day. At first when I came here I was very much scared to talk with new people who come up in my life. Before coming to this institution I was very weak in my grammar, communication/interaction and many small qualities. But after coming to AFRC I could improve very much in all this. Here ,at first day itself I could learn many things .They teaches us from the basic or we can say that they will lay a good foundation to all students who come here. Here we have a well trained two teachers ,Anil Sir and Laila Madam and many other teachers also.
They taught us many things and cared us well. They not only teach just language but they teach us many other character or qualities ,that will make our life perfect. They started to teach tenses in grammar and they slowly started to teach us the other sections of communication that will definitely make a child fearless and even confident. I found that I was now becoming a child without any fear in public speaking and I was also developing leadership quality.
I came here because I was weak in English grammar . So I told my mother that I want to attend a spoken English class so my mother started to search for an institution to teach English . Then she found this institution and from the next day itself I started to come here.
Earlier I had a negative approach to English language but now I have a positive approach to this language.
After attending the class for 13 days Anil Sir gave me an opportunity to do my internship. On hearing this I was really shocked and excited also. Then when I took the class for the students I found that teaching is not just to teach the student but I found that it was also a way of learning.
I found my talents or potential only from AFRC .Now I know what my talents are.
After getting this class I really feel like thanking my parents who took me to this life changing institution.
Anna Daniel Asian University For Women, Bangladesh
Today I woke up, not turning off my alarm at 6:45 am. 16th June morning is the day I realized the lazy afternoon bird in me has to rise early to catch her bus to the world of new experiences.
It was on 15th June I met Anil sir. We had a great talk on different projects; at the end I was welcomed to the enthusiastic AFRC family. My internship begins here. Right at this point the internship is truly giving me a taste of learning. I am a book lover, with that said it doesn’t mean I have good knowledge about books; I am just experimenting the literature world.
One of the projects I am working with at AFRC is in building a World Heritage Literature Centre. In regard of this project we collect USSR published books from different regions and classify them accordingly. At the first, when Anil sir introduced me to the USSR publications and the books, I absolutely had no idea about the value of these books and its area of expertise. I later researched about Soviet Union and its publications to know more about them. I was jaw dropped noticing the number of enthusiastic people, working behind these books and in research since years.
Later then I realized, now I am also a part of this treasure hunting! Today, sitting in the office room in the freely opened library surrounded with books, I use the tactic Anil sir, taught me on my first day to sort the USSR books out the shelf. It is same as like you spot your favorite dish with its smell. Now I can recognize USSR books with its fragrance. For Anil sir, it is the smell of milk chocolates; for me it is the smell crayons painted in my childhood memories.I am enjoying my internship and I am working with a good team.
The recently concluded AFRC BackBenchers conference which was co-organized by Leadership Village YLP and Peace Gong Kerala once again strongly called for a village university in Wayanad, one of the state’s least developed districts. Loaded as one of the cheapest, but possessing the best standard lodging and dining facilities in the world. The place also boasts of an internationally competent cricket stadium. Money is pumped into the district by investors and real estate business. Economic growth is quite visible. However, as far as education is concerned, the district, which is predominantly tribal centered, still has to cross many hurdles.
Role of AFRC in Wayanad education
AFRC (Academic Forum for Research and Communication) is an organization founded by Anil Emage in 1999 at Kalpetta. The organization is all set to break the Kerala academic world as the state`s first institution dedicated to Leadership training and research under the guidance of AFRC director and principal of AFRC Leadership College in S. Bathery, Laila Saein. The organization with a commendable track record has supported more then 2,00,000 students in the state and country with globally competent training, which encompasses language, communication and leadership training. The alumni of AFRC are now spread across the world, and the saga continues.
At a very early stage AFRC has realized the need to get globally connected, so as to introduce internationally accepted training methodologies for the rural student population of Wayanad. AFRC entered into leadership training by partnering with LeadCap, founded by Sangeeth Varghese, who did his research in leadership from London School of Economics and Harvard University. LeadCap and AFRC joined forces to found the world`s first Leadership Village in Wayanad. The leaders trained by AFRC are now the driving force of the organization. The recently concleded International Conference on Education “BackBenchers” conference stands tall as a manifestation for the leadership potential of LV leaders. Peace Gong International Chileren`s Newspaper founded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore Foundation, New Delhi is another partner of AFRC which connects Wayanad to the Indian States ranging from Kashmir to Kerala.
AFRC campaigns for a “Village University of Connectivity” in Wayanad. As such, the organization realizes the need to be globally connected with the support of internet and tele-communication. In RADIJOJO Global Radio Network for Children the organization found an able partner to bridge Wayanad to the outer world. The offshoot of Radijojo, Global Green Kids and its driving force Nicole Weldon AFRC succeeded in conducting various training programs for children in countries including Germany and Czech Republic.
United Nations Volunteers India has also partnered AFRC to reach out to the rural world with its millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. The founder directors of AFRC Anil and Laila were invited more than once to UNV India.
AFRC has also partnerd for the World Economic Forum Event “Global Dignity” in India twice. Anil and Laila were invited to Microsoft and SAP labs to join the team of LeadCap in Bangalore as resource persons for Leadership training.
Why Wayanad needs a village university?
Wayanad needs a village university because by swinging a cricket ball or waiting for the tourists to empty their pockets, the district won`t reach anywhere. Education is the fundamental right of each child born in this country. Students like Thansila and Pooja Raj from AFRC has crossed oceans and made their mark in international venues from Taiwan to Saudi Arabia. But, this is not enough. Wayanad needs more academic leaders to register their names in the international academic map. As there are no good advanced educational facilities in Wayanad, the best brains from the district leaves the district, state or or even country to pasture on greener lands. And they do not comeback, as the district failed to offer better job prospects for its children. The only solution is to develop a village univesty supported by research organization and other universities in Wayanad. Wayand is now known for tourism, but the students of AFRC is determined to make ti known one day as the land of the world`s first village university where children at the age of 10 years could take admission. Where farmers and members of the tribal population will also find a space as resource persons.
Sangeeth Varghese is a leadership thinker from the LSE and the founder of LeadCap. He co-founded Leadership Village YLP in Wayanad with Laila Saein and Anil Emage. Sangeeth Varghese is a globally acknowledged leadership thinker, ranked among the top 10, from the Harvard and London School of Economics. He is the author of the No.1 business bestseller in India ‘Open Source Leader’ and the global bestseller ‘Decide to Lead’. He was nominated as a Young Global Leader 2010 by the World Economic Forum, Davos and was honoured as the first Asian Youth Ambassador by the government of Libya.
Prior to this, Varghese researched and studied leadership at Harvard and the London School of Economics with scholarships. He has also done his MBA and Bachelor’s in Economics with gold medals.
Building a nation of heroes
For most of us democracy means nothing more than the franchise of voting. We forget that democracy is also participatory, which requires working together within our communities to make a difference to our own lives and the lives of those around us. Irony is that we often require painful incidents, to remind us about this and to shake us out of the quagmire of problems that we are left to deal with.
John Kotter, authority on leadership from the Harvard Business School, says about this, “Without enough leadership from enough people in existing arenas, they become too sluggish and uncreative to flourish in a world of change and flux. Without enough leadership to create and nurture new initiatives, an economy like India can’t keep a democracy stable. Leadership is not the only necessity for stability and progress, but without enough, democratic institutions remain fragile – always vulnerable to internal tyranny and external threats.”
In fact, we all have been limiting ours and our nation’s potential thinking that true leaders are different. We have been indifferent to nation building thinking that exemplary leaders are extraordinary. But it stands to reason that at some point of time all great leaders, be it Mahathma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or George Washington, were all ordinary individuals. They took a decision to wriggle out of their comfort zones. They took a decision to challenge themselves and the world around. They took a decision to look beyond themselves, to get involved, to make a difference to the lives of millions of people around. And that is exactly what is required from each one of us right now.
As we traverse through this twilight zone, we cannot afford to restrict leadership to a few individuals. It is time for us to come out of our cosy homes, cocoons and comfort zones to tackle and solve our nation’s problems. It is time for us to nudge each other to remind that it is not up to ‘them’, but up to us. It is up to us to build India as a nation of leaders – where everyone is a leader, where everyone is a hero.
Probably our real tryst with destiny is just around the corner. Let us embrace it boldly.
Ever since our inception AFRC has followed a great tradition of being an organisation respecting the values of women and girl child by making it an open space to celebrate freedom of women. On this International Day for Women we would like to stop our stride to take a peek over the shoulder on success stories scripted by our young women and girls.
The charismatic leader who chose to lead a life of volunteering and academic research and training is well known as a journalist and dedicated teacher. Beating all odds she rose to become a national figure by working among the villages of Kerala as a trainer and journalist. Awarded by TOASTMASTERS International and the winner of Karmaveer Chakra Puraskar Laila has taken the role of a mentor of hundreds of girls and women in Kerala.
As a journalist she has directed many documentaries on pressing social issues and volunteers her time in guiding children and young people by donning the role of Natioanl Adviser for The Peace Gong International Children`s Newspaper published by Gurudeve Rabindranth Tagore Foundation, New Delhi.
She has taken the lead in organising My World Survey in Wayanad, Kerala supported by United nations Volunteers India. She presented a paper on education and the girlchild at Taiwan International Human Rights Conference organised by Graden Of Hope Foundation, Taiwan. It was her efforts which made Thansila, former Peace Gong Kerala Chief Editor reach the Asian finalist position of the conference.
Laila works selflessly to support minorities, tribes and farmers. She founded the ambitious project Leadership Village YLP in 2009 with Sangeeth Varghese and Anil Emage, to identify and train potential leaders. She established a Living Library for the children and youth and regularly volunteers her time there. Laila actively participated in the Literacy program of Kerala to make the state 100 percent literate during 1990s.To inspire innovations among students she started the annual Back Benchers conference in 2014. Considering her volunteering and services to society Laila`s story was included in the UN book on volunteering.
A big salute to our founder Laila Saein, a real woman of character and spirit.