While institutions are finding strategies to take their learning and development (L&D) methods online, in this pandemic stricken world, the World Konkani Centre in Mangaluru has silently built an online ecosystem for grooming students by harvesting its alumni power in the past two years.
Sushiksha is an alumni-driven mentoring programme initiated in 2018 by VKSSF Alumni Association, an offshoot of Vishwa Konkani Student Scholarship Programme of World Konkani Centre. Sushiksha is a group of self-driven, highly motivated alumni of World Konkani Centre from across the world, who are handholding the WKC Scholars in a day-to-day manner, using various technological tools available online.
Here mentees and mentors get accustomed to using the tools endemic to the corporate world such as Slack, Airtables, Google Slides etc., apart from popular video conferencing tools. Each member defines their goals using the OKR (Objective & Key Results) framework, a commonplace organization alignment tool, and measures productivity by clocking in pomodoro sessions while working towards these goals. One must see the Airtable sheets of each scholar densely populated with clocked hours to understand how motivation can be infectious than a worrisome virus. In the Instagram-ridden and instant-gratification driven world, the members of this group truly practice deep work by clocking in 5-6h of undistracted work.
One of the distinguishing features of this organization is its unique events. Consider, for example, the pair sessions—a session where the mentors and mentees work on a task without distraction for 30min. At the end of the session, one of the members leads a “retro”: they ask the other members how productive their session was and how they plan to improve in the next pair session. The pair sessions are a place for the mentees to get ad-hoc feedback from the mentors and they run 24x7, taking advantage of alumni in different time zones. This kaizen-like approach of constant improvement has been the secret sauce behind the success of several Sushiksha members. Some other activities include weekly Fire-side Chats which are aimed at educating the members in fundamental psychological concepts like motivation, conscientiousness, perseverance, proactiveness etc. It is also a space where each member shares their experiences on how they keep themselves motivated, how they have overcome failure in the past, what has been bothering them in the last few days etc. There are also events aimed towards research and higher studies such as IELTS and Research Talk sessions. Finally, the speaking club (beautifully named Oratoria) and the Reading Club are aimed at improving the members’ communication skills.
Another sought after event is Joy of Programming (JoP) stand up sessions, where each member gives updates on the status of their current project. All the projects are aimed at societal good, thereby inculcating a feeling of social responsibility in addition to professional growth. Some of these projects include COVID-19 dashboard, analyses of SARS-COV-2 genome sequence, chatbots and helplines to obtain more information about the status of the virus. The standups and retros are done exactly as in the IT industry so as to prepare the members for the corporate world culture. The mentees of course don’t forget to have fun--there’s daily yoga sessions, weekly Bollywood Nights for singing, poetry reading sessions, zumba, crossword parties and the list goes on.
“Sushiksha is a goto place for me everyday, it’s a great fun to interact and compete with the brightest of our seniors, my productivity in the academics and personal life have been enhanced and I am now obsessed with target-oriented personal growth”, says Sukanya Shet, a 5th Semester Engineering student from M. S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology. “I will be in the top ten this round of OKR, because I have lined up my chart and can’t wait to finish”, says Keerthi Kamath, fondly known as KK by everyone, studies Engineering at Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management, Adyar. “We know where to look and whom to ask when in any kind of dilemmas of life. And the right directions and answers can be found instantly” says Apeksha Prabhu of JSS Academy Of Technical Education. “We are truly lucky to have these mentors up there, we thank WKC for this wonderful platform it has given to us”, says Shravya Mallya of Manipal Institute of Technology. “If any scholar is feeling low for any reasons, find here an able counsel and advise to keep themselves motivated in their life”, says Shrinidhi Prabhu, a MBBS student from Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, who incidentally has begun leading a mentorship program of his own for pre-university students. Clearly, the actions of good work are contagious!
“The credit goes to Royal Denzil Sequeira, a WKC alumnus, currently a Machine Learning practitioner from Toronto Canada, who has been instrumental in rolling out the programme and nurturing it day in and day out in the past two years”, says Sneha V. Shenoy, President of VKSSF Alumni Association, “He is a highly motivated individual with zeal to reach out and help the younger generation. He has defined the culture and value system within Sushiksha nurturing a growth mindset among the scholars.”
“It’s the super active scholars who deserve the credit for whatever we have achieved so far under the Sushiksha” Says Royal Denzil Sequeira, Convener of Sushiksha who is also a Vice President of VAA, “though we have a band of highly motivated alumni in Sushiksha as mentors, it’s the mentees who bring in much needed action to the bases. It’s them who bring in the quest to learn and make the mentors feel the time worth spent”
The mentors of Sushiksha are self-made persons, such as Sushma Kini, an alumna of University of Illinois, USA, and Movin Sequeira a PhD Scholar from Jonkoping University Sweden, bring in their insights from those campuses and international exposure they have gained. Alumni Professionals such as Karan Kini, Venkatesh Prabhu, Nabha Kamath, Sukanya Pai, Gopika Kini, Samyuktha Prabhu, Chaithra Kamath and several others invest part of their lives in grooming the scholars.
“WKC has helped us to find meaning to our life through those world-class KSHAMATA camps we attended during our time. It’s just that we are giving back whatever little we can. It’s the Vision of T. V. Mohandas Pai and the dream of Basti Vaman Shenoy, which is paramount for all of us in making Konkani community a prosperous and successful community by 2030”, says Karan Kini, an aeronautical engineer from Quest Global, Bengaluru.
Both KSHAMATA and Sushiksha are part of the Vishwa Konkani Student Scholarship Programme founded by World Konkani Centre. Every year hundreds of students enrol for this unique scholarship programme.