How do you ensure that all that you have inherited in terms of cultural heritage is handed over to the next generation at the right time and in the right manner? How can you ensure that the essence of all things right is passed on such that gen-next takes to it out of choice and not the lack of it?
IGENPLUS, a learning programme for teenagers aims to do all this and more through its various programmes that include the much sought-after Indic Teen Fest, whose last edition saw around 350 young minds toy with everything ranging from Journalism, Mathematics, Film-Making, Entrepreneurship, Importance of Family along with workshops on Madhubani Art, Toy-Making, Creative Writing, Odissi Dance etc.
Chief Executive Officer of IGENPLUS, a joint venture between Indic Academy and Gateway Foundation, Soumya Aggarwal tells us more about this programme through which they aim to ‘build next-generation thought leaders with offerings outside the classroom and curriculum’.
1. What is IGenPlus about? Can you elaborate on the Plus program?
IGenPlus creates opportunities for young students to be aware, informed and evolved to make their own decisions. It is about developing leadership in teenagers by promoting Yogic Thinking, Design Thinking, and Exponential Thinking. We aim to prepare students for life rather than educating them for a career.
Through YogiPlus we help the students to unbind the fullest potential of mind, body, and spirit. This will develop their personality with the focus on character, emotional growth, and mindfulness. With us, students will not only define the purpose of life but also develop a sense of service, sustainable lifestyle, become culturally sensitive and inclusive.
Design thinking is the new buzz word but it is an inherent ability which can be nurtured. Through our curriculum in CreativePlus, students will go beyond memorising facts and will learn meta-skills that amplify the mind power and make them more creative. This will help them think like an entrepreneur and design ideas that can solve social problems rather than cribbing about them. This includes fields like intuition and creativity, conscious leadership, entrepreneurial skills, goal setting and more.
New innovations are giving birth to unexplored opportunities. ExponentialPlus will equip the teens with the skills to utilise them and will prepare for the needs of the future.
Through these three verticals, we enable our children to discover their aptitude and passion, build on their creative skills, expose them to eminent thought leaders, nurture them to become non-linear and trans-disciplinary thinkers and immerse them in cultural experiences. We train them to become inclusive, pluralistic and socially responsible leaders ready to deal with the challenges of the future. We see them with their future dreams fused with the universal principles and values from our ancient wisdom with contemporary insights.
2. ‘Fusing the universal principles and values from our ancient wisdom with contemporary insights’ – How is this achieved?
We are mixing the benefits of the practices from the past to face the challenges of the present. For example, our weekend schools will focus on engaging the students with Vedic chanting and Gita recitation. These two-hour workshops will expose them to the wisdom of the past and also help boost their concentration.
The idea is simple – to inculcate the values, practices, ethos, and spirituality in them with a clear explanation about the benefits in their day-to-day living. Children need scientific explanations and answers to all their ‘why’s. We will provide those.
3. Who is the audience or who does the program cater to?
We are focussing our programs on teenagers. This age group is fragile and looks for opportunities to use their energies. Most of the students of this bracket are delusional with the number of options/choices. It is crucial we give them clarity and a platform to utilise their strength for nation-building.
4. What is the music trail about?
Music Trail is the theme of this year’s ‘Inside India’ – an immersive learning program for the teenagers who live outside India and want to explore the country. In our first edition, we will be covering different states from South India and give the delegates a taste of the different flavours of music in India from classical to folk to Bollywood. The 15-day trip will be a combination of musical workshops, performances, visit relevant places, and a lot of adventure. They will eat local food, interact with common people and involve themselves in the subject completely. In the second edition, we are planning a trip to various NGOs and immerse the students into the journey of seva.
5. What was the idea behind Indic TeenFests?
The objective of Indic TeenFest(ITF) is to give young students a holistic platform to meet eminent personalities, interact with the best minds, discover their passion, and learn various professional and personal skills. It is designed to give the teenagers a holistic lifetime exposure, coupled with fun and entertainment. The whole fiesta of ITF is designed for teens to be aware of various fields, which will help them succeed not just professionally but in life.
All our fests host students from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and areas enabling an understanding in the teens to coexist with people with diverse mindsets and an opportunity to expand their peer network, and build strong friendships. Exposure to various activities and new people contributes to personality development.
6. How was the response last year? What would be two or three anecdotal best moments from the Indic fest that you held last year?
We had a very good response last year. More than 300 students participated from Agra, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Ghaziabad and Vrindavan. The days began with Tennis, Zumba, Yoga, Basketball and ended with workshops on Madhubani art, Odissi, flute and Hindustani vocal by Spic Macay Artists. In between, sessions by Madhu Kishwar ji on Sexual freedom and responsibility, Luv Ranjan on film-making, Ramesh RB on ‘Strategy and Concentration’, Hindol Sengupta on Swami Vivekananda and Sanjeev Sanyal on ‘Living Life As An Adventure’ added the right mix of knowledge, experience and learning for the young audience.
7. Will last year’s participants also be part of this year’s program?
A lot of them want to come back. Some have outgrown the teenage and we wish them best. This year we have representation from Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh in addition to the last year’s participating states. Other than Delhi NCR, we are conducting the fest in Los Angeles, London, Chicago and Singapore. We intent do organise this in various places across the globe.
8. How do these fest participants then take it ahead (post-program)?
Our activities are not limited to the fest. Weekend schools, online courses, competitions, and cultural experiences happen throughout the year. For example, we are partnering with Swarajya for a heritage tour for teenagers. In Indic TeenFest 2019, participants will find a facilitator who will mentor the students for any professional advice, even after the fest.
Apart from this, we are building a network of our alumni. This will help them sustain a relationship with their peers from different parts of the world. The network will build friendships, help each other whenever required, for example, the application process to the United States’ universities.