JSW Foundation Fellowship

A journey of laughs 

Human beings are activated and motivated by emotions and express these emotions in various forms and one of the most common form is laughter. Well it sounds so easy to understand the emotions if it is expressed in some form but alas! It is as complex to understand the most simple expression  ‘laugh’ as it is to understand feelings and emotions. A laugh can be used to express joy , mirth and  scorn,  even the tone of laughter can vary .   So let’s use ‘laugh’ to express and to trace my journey to the JSW foundation fellowship.

I gave my interview for the fellowship while I was appearing for master’s examination, all the concerned people in my circle i.e friends and relatives kept asking my future prospects but I chose not to share my future prospects with anyone because I worry that if I share the upcoming good news, I won’t receive that good news and results for the interview were forthcoming . Well this modern girl does have that desi vibe and tension of “nazar” impacting her life. Look up, first laugh on its way . As the mail with the word “selected” notified me and I announced my decision of moving to Maharashtra and joining a fellowship, the concerned group  had a good laugh. It’s good to have a good laugh but this laugh was scorn wondering how a girl who cares about OOTD (outfit of the day) could be a part of the social development sector and works at the grassroot level. It definitely took them some time to actually digest the fact that I’m going to be a fellow – a young change maker. And with theirst laugh, one myth was busted – a person is more than their appearance.

The second laugh was about explaining what the fellowship program is, all the people I encountered from the airport to my fellowship location. Whenever someone asks “what are you doing in Maharashtra ?” I simply reply that I’m here for a fellowship and will be working for rural development, and a series of questions arise but even after answering all of the questions, people laugh and say “nice job, you will love the fresh air in the village and live a peaceful life there.” So what does this laugh express – well I think it’s confusion and laughter is the best way to politely change the topic . God knows how many more fake laughs I’ll have to endure, hopefully I’ll be habituated to it or rather take on the task of explaining the fellowship program better. 

So here’s my take on the fellowship program. A fellowship is a commitment towards an intensive, experiential program that shapes the leadership quality in you and helps you learn the skill that is needed to sustain yourself in this ever-changing environment while uplifting the sections of society that remain unaware of comfort and ease of life. 

The fellowship program has just begun and it already has started instilling in me the process of thinking, reflecting and acting rationally rather than erratically.

The journey of this fellowship began with comprehensive training for 15 days and I’m happy that the laughter and the lessons it brought, continue. .

Travelling to the fellowship training location was itself a learning experience for an amateur like me, who had never travelled alone or rather say never ever booked a cab for herself. I reached Pune station at 11pm and cabs kept cancelling, the feelings and emotions inside me discouraged me on the first day of stepping out of my comfort zone. The kid inside me was petrified and just wanted to go home. There was a guy talking about fashion tips over call and his tips made me laugh and he passed a look, in order to overcome that social awkwardness I said “can you help me with the address”. Obviously this statement didn’t cover up the awkwardness but made him burst into laughter seeing my tensed expression, thinking his stare scared me enough. This awkward laughter and meeting proved to be helpful as he not only helped me with getting a  cab but also waited with me for an hour and checked if I had reached safely to my destination. From a girl who hardly makes friends to becoming amiable with a stranger is like coming out of a shell.

You must have heard “laughter makes learning easy” , think of your favourite teacher in school, you are likely to remember a cheerful teacher, as laughter makes the mood light and increases the learning capacity and this is exactly what happened during the training period.

The first day of training had light sessions, the first one being about remembering each other’s names and what a fun way to remember names by playing dodge ball and sharing laughter with your cohort. The laugh and smiles did really strengthen the bond between everyone in the cohort , from gossiping to cracking jokes to motivating each other in lows .

You must be wondering what struck Amisha, that she is expressing her journey and incidents through ‘laugh’. So this conscious thought and reflection came to me on a field visit that was part of our training. A visit to a village school turned my not so thoughtful laugh into a reflection of all the laughs I have been part of. In a class of 30 students, a kid who was very shy to introduce himself finally said his name but he stuttered while saying his name and every student in the class laughed . That kid just couldn’t bear this and cried inconsolably, the stuttering wasn’t in his control, he found it difficult to pronounce words beginning with some specific letters. This kid doesn’t speak much with other kids, thinking they’ll laugh at him due to his inability to speak clearly. His face just got captured in my mind and made me realise how often we just laugh it out easily on misfortune of others, without knowing the impact of a small laugh in one’s life. So laughter can be of any type and we should always be mindful before laughing at others. I know it’s easier to preach than to follow one’s own advice but life’s all about trying so maybe we could all try it.

For all the laughter that brought me here, I am thankful to everyone who is supporting me on this journey of building the ‘self ‘ through resilience and compassion.

Amisha kothari  

   JSW Foundation Fellow , Vasind 




One reply on “A journey of laughs ”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s