Monday, November 16, 2015

The journey thus far - Sapna speaks

Sapna Kedia

"'I have been working in the development sector for over five years. During this time, I have worked with government, international and civil society organizations to understand the nuances of social development, governance, advocacy and policy making in India. Gender has been an area of profound interest to me stemming from my personal experiences and my exposure to the issue during my academic life. I am very keen to take this interest forward and work on gender related issues within my community and outside."

Sapna was among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Read what she has to say about her experiences:

"I am a great believer in chance. While I do believe that we have to go after the things (and people) we want, I strongly believe and have experienced that what we desire comes to us sometimes in the most unexpected and simple ways. My journey at Pratiti began in the same way. 

A friend shared the opportunity with me somewhere in June this year and I remember being very curious about the nature of the application form. Anybody could apply irrespective of educational qualifications, how well you speak, what skills you have, what gender you belong to and so on. The only marker being one had to be between the ages of 18-30. I am 28..:) 

Filling the application form did not seem like a task, like most other applications often do. The Pratiti form was like having a conversation with myself. I saved a copy of the form and even today when I read it I feel like it gives me a glimpse of the me which I don't see very often or which I neglect. When I got a call to be a part of the fellowship, I was concerned that I would be out of place given my age, since the other fellows mostly seemed younger. I was assured it wouldn't be a concern. And as simply as that I became a part of the fellowship. 

It is in the nature of us humans to underestimate that which comes simply - we pride ourselves and others at clearing rounds and rounds of tough steps and that is when a sense of accomplishment kicks in - and thus I entered the Pratiti Journey with very humble expectations. Now when the Fellowship is over, I get a strange feeling looking back. 

I spent most weekends over the past few months with a group of 20 people , very very different from me. Some younger, some older, some straight, some queer, some extroverts, some introverts, some bearded, some poets, some singers, some dancers, some artists and some observers. I have never spent so much personal time with people who are so different from me as it is absolutely out of my comfort zone. I like to have my own group of 4-5 people and that's it. 

At Pratiti, I heard total strangers share their pain, their fears, their joys, their passions. I saw new friendships being built. I saw people break down. And then stand up again. I saw a new side to myself. I could be comfortable around a group of strangers and even grow fond of many of them. I could simply just have fun with people I didn't know and I could listen and share. Yes, there were those moments where I wondered where are we going and why are we doing this and those uncomfortable moments when all the personal sharing made me want to go back home because I couldn't handle so many emotions. 

But I stayed, because there was something that was working for me. 

I learnt to let go of my judgments' of people who belong to diverse gender identities. I have always been around heterosexual people, so I was very curious and intimidated about the LGBTQI community. I often feared I would unconsciously say or do something inappropriate. On my first day of the Pratiti workshop, I carried this fear with me and now after 3 months , it is gone, gone completely. I am still curious, but not intimidated anymore. I am now more aware of many of my privileges as a heterosexual woman (though of course there would be many more manys for a heterosexual man). I now carry with me a deeper understanding of 'intersectionality' and what it means to not be a part of the so called 'mainstream'. 

Pratiti gave me an opportunity to do something without worrying about the consequences, without looking at it as a task. Through the action project it gave me a chance to do something simply because I wanted to do it and no other reason. That has been so nice, so fulfilling and pure in a manner. It has made me deeply content. I often wonder why people want to be part of such journeys. I figured we are all searching for something .With Pratiti I am more aware of my search for that something."

Follow the Pratiti blog for more beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders...

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