Parul: A People Person
While I was interviewing one of ETASHA’s longer-serving facilitators, I realised that she has two main passions: meeting new people and helping those in need. Naturally, then, she was attracted to ETASHA because the organization captures such interests perfectly and puts them to constructive use.
“I first heard about ETASHA through my aunt, who was a batch mate of Meenakshi,” she explained. For almost four and a half years, she has performed myriad roles for the organization, using her skills to help raise funds, organize events, and of course, facilitate. She contributes to the coordination of ETASHA’s participation in the Delhi Half Marathon annual marathon and undoubtedly one of Parul’s favorite parts about her job is the joy she gets through teaching. “My favourite class to teach is definitely Selling Skills,” she says. “I absolutely love it.” Vocational programs cush as CSWC include Selling Skills to help focus on helping young adults improve their chances of employment in a selling and customer service environment. In fact, many of Parul’s fondest memories during her stint in ETASHA have been created while teaching. “I once taught a class on interview skills,” she began. “It was essentially a four day course on a combination of pronunciation, preparation for interviews, how to dress for an interview, proper posture, and stuff like that. And within a few months, every single one of my kids had cleared their respective interviews and gotten a job. It was very, very special.”
Indeed, this type of rapid development on the part of trainees is not unusual; ETASHA not only gives them employability skills, but also reaches out to companies in various sectors, helping to set up interviews for its students. This gives trainees a much needed leg up when it comes to finding jobs. For example, I walked into the office one day to find an entire CSWC batch from Madanpur Khadar waiting nervously in one of the rooms. Surprised, I asked them what they were doing there and was told that they were waiting for a representative of a company to arrive and interview them. Because they are surrounded by the faculty they have come to view as friends, students feel more relaxed in the office atmosphere, and consequently more at ease when speaking to their interviewer. This is the type of environment that Parul works to engender and maintain on a daily basis.
Not only does Parul make ETASHA a pleasant experience for her trainees, but they often reciprocate as well. A few months ago, one of Parul’s trainees had a penchant for writing Shayaris (a form of Urdu poetry). Out of every single possible topic to write on, he dedicated his poem to Parul. Like so many other facilitators, Parul acts as both authority figure and friend to the children she interacts with. Indeed, this is what she likes most about working with ETASHA. She explained, “The best part about facilitating is that I get rewarded every single day. Each time you walk into a classroom, and you teach in a way that every child understands you, you just feel great.”
In the United States, glossophobia, or the fear of speaking in public, is the second highest fear among citizens, behind only the fear of death. Fortunately, Parul has no such inhibitions. “Connecting with the people I meet is the easiest part of my job,” she said simply. “Basically, I’m a people person, so it’s not tough for me to talk to people in the community, or to adjust whenever a new batch of kids comes in.” However, she does concede that not everyone can be as outgoing as she. In fact, many new trainees are the complete antithesis of Parul—they are terrified of speaking to unfamiliar people in positions of authority!
When I asked her about this, she elaborated, “We often have guest speakers. I see a lot of trainees that have just joined shy away from talking to the speaker, and they sometimes don’t participate at all. But if a guest speaker comes in the third month, everyone is clamoring to talk and ask questions!” Such is the case with many trainees.
This type of progress in a relatively short amount of time is a testament to ETASHA’s effectiveness when it comes to instilling confidence in underprivileged youth. In such an environment, Parul fits in perfectly, and works hard to transfer some of her own “people person” skills onto her trainees every day.