new-years-day

What I Did in my Gap Year? – II

Dear Emma,

Along with my application process activities, I dedicated my time to Rotaract Club of Patan South. It is one of the several Rotaract clubs spread around the world. Rotaract is a service, leadership and community service organization for young men and women between the ages 18–30. I joined Rotaract because I wanted to experience the society from a different perspective and wanted to give back to the society. During my time at Rotaract, I volunteered in several activities conducted by this club including several blood donation camps, career counseling, and health awareness programs in public schools. I also took part in Puppetry workshop, Proposal Writing workshop, Futsal tournament and Public Speaking forum organized by Rotaract to enhance the leadership, writing and communicative skills of its members.

From grade nine, I have been helping my father in his electric shop after school. And I continued this activity in my gap year as well. He repairs electronic devices like television, microwaves etc. When he went away to customers houses to repair those electric devices, I looked after the shop, dealt with customers and sold the electronic goods as well. In spare time, my father taught me his work. I learned how to solder, how to study a circuit board. I learned about resistors, transistors, capacitors etc.

In July, I volunteered in a 10-day residential Vipassana meditation course in Nepal Vipassana Meditation Center.  I had previously taken a 10-day course myself and felt grateful for the volunteers who made my stay comfortable during those 10 days. I too wanted to make someone else’s stay comfortable as it had been mine, so I volunteered in one of the courses there. During the course, I was in charge of the dining room and had the responsibility to serve the food and clean the dining room. I was also in charge of the Russian group of meditators. A lot of foreigners come to this meditation center to learn Vipassana and they are segregated into groups according to their preferred language. During the discourse sessions and important instruction sessions, I lead those Russians into the designated halls and also catered their small needs.

Yours,

Sushil

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new-years-day

What I Did in my Gap Year? – I

Dear Emma,

Today, I want to talk to you about a fruitful year I had outside of academics.

After completing my final board exams in April 2014, I patiently waited for my results which were due to arrive in September. I consulted my parents and friends for higher studies and after considering several options I found studying in the USA as my best option because I wanted to get an experiential education.

To get more information about studying in the US, I attended a Friday group session at USEF (United States Education Foundation/ Education USA center) which gave me an overview of the entire application process to US colleges. I realized that applying to US colleges and universities is a long process and I was already late to apply for the 2014 fall session and hence I took a gap year and am applying for the 2015 fall session.

In the past eight months, I spent most of my time in the application process; preparing for SAT, researching about colleges and writing my essays. I went to USEF daily, along with two of my friends, to practice for SAT. The USEF has a library which provides resources on SAT, TOEFL, US colleges and the application process. USEF also conducts several Info Session on different parts of application process like an essay, standardized tests etc, College Info Session and Get Inspired Session (A session conducted by people who have or are going to US colleges). I attended these sessions throughout the year whenever they were held and they gave me a lot of information about different colleges and about the experience of studying in the USA.

To be continued…

Yours,

Sushil

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The Day I Cried

Tears find it hard to roll by,
Maybe because I’m a guy.
But then, when my grandfather died
I saw my father cry.

I thought when someone dear to me dies,
Tears will automatically come by.
But then, death is a part of life,
I don’t see why I should cry.

Tragedy, failure, hardship: there must be a reason,
For my tears to flow by.
But then, I realize,
I have all my life to rectify.

I tried hard to remember the day I cried.
I don’t remember.
But the day I was born as human,
That was the day I first cried.

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introvert

The Perks of Being an Introvert – II

Dear Emma,

For the next seven years at GEMS, I continuously received a checkmark in introvert. It bugged me a lot. I always had the notion that I needed to get a checkmark in extrovert and my parents, teachers, and friends didn’t help me think otherwise. They were always nagging me about not talking openly, or not mixing with other groups. “Why don’t you speak?”, “Sushil doesn’t speak much”, were the common comments I heard most of the time. Some of the teachers even made me participate in debate and extempore competitions while my father wanted me to be in the dance club. [I negotiated with him and we settled for singing club.]

With all the nagging and the embarrassment that came with it, life was frustrating. At times, I felt like something was wrong with me, and at other times, I felt angry.

Even in my high school years, I was a quiet person. But, this time being an introvert didn’t feel so bad. First of all, the mark sheets didn’t discriminate among the students, secondly, with all the drama, fights and tragedies that were going on around me, being an introvert shielded me against it. I was a distant observer enjoying the free theater show. As I didn’t talk too much, I got better in listening. My friends use to share their problems with me and I would be a good listener to them. They would appreciate my act and being an introvert suddenly started to feel like a prestige.  I started to get more comfortable with myself.

Looking back down the years, I feel proud of being an introvert. Introversion defines who I am today. It has taught me to be independent, to listen, to appreciate other’s ideas and more importantly, to cherish being myself. As a child, I was always made to feel that being an extrovert was better and it’s sad to remember that I wasted so much of my energy and time to achieve that. If only, I wasn’t made to feel that way, then maybe I would have learned to appreciate myself during my childhood.

Ten years later, people still make comments about me not talking more. But, now I don’t feel disappointed or angry rather I answer with a big smile and no words.

Yours,

Sushil

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The Perks of Being an Introvert – I

Dear Emma,

In the early morning of spring in 2005, I first walked the corridors of GEMS as a student. We had to wear short pants and I felt very shy in that uniform. The school was big and the route to my class from the gate was very long. I walked timidly towards my classroom. Along the way, I felt people were staring at me. It felt like an eternity to reach the class. I was very nervous.

It was a big transition in my life. I was studying in a small private school with only fifteen classmates. I was the captain of the class and stood first in every exam. But my parents felt I could achieve more and sent me to a big prestigious school. There were more than two thousand students in GEMS and forty of them were in my class. I easily got lost among them. Everybody knew each other and they moved and talked in groups. Often, I found myself alone and staring at my course book even during the recess time.

Three months passed by and we had our first term exams. I stood third among 380 of my batch mates and first in my class. I felt very proud of my achievement. One week later, the school distributed the report cards. The report card was very peculiar to the ones that I had been receiving in my previous school. The front side had academic stats while the back side had remarks from the class teacher. Among the remarks, was a small tick in a checkbox and alongside it was written introvert.  That was my first encounter with the word and I couldn’t comprehend its meaning. But, most of my classmates had check marks on extrovert and I felt somewhat disappointed.

To be continued…

 

Yours,

Sushil

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my-identity

My Identity – II

Meditators were not allowed to talk except with the teacher and were isolated from the outside world. As days passed, this helped me increase my concentration and I started to feel heartbeat, pulses and subtle vibrations in my body. These were much more pleasant feelings but still, I didn’t generate any feelings of comfort. Instead, kept my neutrality intact and went on scanning my body part by part.

The meditation course finally ended on the tenth day and I returned to my everyday life. In those ten days, constantly watching my own body objectively taught me more about life than any book would have. By not reacting to the pain in my leg, I chose not to suffer, not to accept the disappointment. By not reacting to the pleasant vibrations, I chose not to crave for good things in life, not to be greedy. By having an objective perception, I chose to see things just as they are not as the way I wanted them to be. I learned that this world only existed as my mind envisioned it.

With continued practice of Vipassana, my mind automatically started to conceive things and events objectively. Once when my mother scolded me for not doing household chores, I didn’t get angry as I used to. But, instead tried to understand her anger and accepted my fault. During my volunteer works with Rotaract Club, I started to work altruistically. I gave a flood victim some blankets without expecting appreciation for my work, volunteered in a blood donation camp without expecting to receive a certificate. Before, I used to volunteer with the expectation of some accolade or respect. But, now after practicing Vipassana, I do volunteering in its true sense.

Vipassana changed me spiritually. However, it’s not just a ritual that I perform every day but it’s the way I think, see, speak, hear and live. Describing Vipassana is describing my identity.

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My Identity I

 

I sat like a statue; my eyes were closed and my legs were cross-folded. There was pin drop silence in the room. Along with 150 people sitting in the hall, my mind was chained to my nostrils and cautiously observed each and every breath. In the midst of this silence, suddenly the audio started to play, “Bhagato Sabba Mangalam” (May all beings be happy!) and repeated the phrase three times. Everybody bowed saying “Sadoo, Sadoo, Sadoo!” (We wish the same!). And the 1-hour meditation session ended.

This was the third day of a 10-day residential Vipassana meditation course. Vipassana, discovered by Gautam Buddha, is an ancient meditation technique which helps to practice objectivism. When I was nine years old my mother sent me to a 1-day Annapana meditation course, a small part of Vipassana, which taught me to focus my mind on my breath. After attending several 1-day and 3-day Annapana meditation courses, I took my first Vipassana meditation course at age 17 and it had a profound impact on me.

After practicing Annapana meditation for three days, I learned Vipassana on the fourth day of the course. Strenuously concentrating on my breath for three days made my mind sharp and on the fourth day, as instructed, I shifted my concentration from my breath to the top of my head with the goal to observe any sensations that came across on that region. Although, I barely felt anything at first, with continued concentration I felt some heaviness in that area. Then, shifting my concentration on other parts of my body piece by piece, I observed different sensations in those areas but objectively.

As I sat with my legs cross-folded, it would start to hurt but while concentrating on my legs I tried not to generate any feelings of aversion. I maintained a neutral perception with the understanding that this pain was temporary and loathing would only cause me misery. Throughout the meditation, I kept this understanding and maintained my neutrality.

 

 

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