Nutan and Cynara report on their TSALS experience

A post from 11th standard students, Nutan and Cynara.  These girls graduated from ALF in April, having completed our 9-10th standard program!  They got the opportunity to participate in a two week residential leadership course in Rishikesh… here’s what they have to say:
Hello everyone. This is Nutan and Cynara signing in. We are back from a two week residential program, TSALS (The Sri Ram Ananta Leadership School) and we can’t wait to share what an amazing experience we had! We feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to experience this thrilling journey of self discovery!
Now, let us take you through the journey as well. Though words are not greater than the experiences we had and any combination of 26 letters cannot describe the journey well, we would still try our best to do justice in describing our journey.
Our day at Camp Panther, Rishikesh, used to start with a wake up call at 6am (which was basically a loud thud.. thud.. on our tents!)  For the first week we assembled everyday in the lawn for Acro Yoga at 6:30am!
Students practicing Acro Yoga at TSALS
Students practicing Acro Yoga at TSALS
Nutan (below) practicing Acro Yoga with a friend
Nutan (below) practicing Acro Yoga with a friend
Namrata was our instructor who guided us in these sessions.  She taught us how to be flexible  and showed us many yoga moves.  Through Acro Yoga we cultivated trust, leadership and human connection.  Acro yoga was very relaxing and because of this we started our day ahead with a lot of energy.  It was a great fun to perform moves such as lifts, circle ceremony and flying high.
In our the Communication Skills classes we learnt the methods to bring clarity in our speech. Our teacher Vikram taught us how to become a super communicator. In the beginning of every class he made us pronounce the vowels by opening our jaw well. Because of practicing this exercise daily our pronunciation improved. On the last day we all were told to give a 2 minute speech on the lessons we learnt in TSALS but with all the skills we learnt and with clarity. He advised us how to improve our speech and it really helped all of us.
Percussion workshop!
Percussion workshop!
Another activity was called Moving Canvases.  This is a play shop about exploring our own creativity and thinking out of the box.  For this we all were divided in several groups and were told to paint using our hands, legs and other parts of the body on a blank canvas.The topic given to everyone was “TSALS 2014”.  All the groups used their own creativity and there were so many beautiful paintings.  But we also enjoyed a lot by splashing colours on each other!
Creating our Moving Canvas
Creating our Moving Canvas
Socratic Dialogues were extremely insightful sessions wherein our minds were forced to rethink about our beliefs about various different thoughts. These were the sessions which made us think out of the box and we inferred that nothing in the world is black or white but there’s always many shades of grey in between. There’s nothing which is perfectly perfect! We started off by doing a couple of thought provoking readings everyday each one of which was followed by a very thoughtful discussion.
Cynara prepares for a Socratic Dialogue
Cynara prepares for a Socratic Dialogue
Some of these readings were very inspiring whereas a few were extremely emotional! We agreed, disagreed, made choices, took stands, and almost every choice we made we found ourselves contradicting ourselves in the very next reading!
Socratic Dialogues
Socratic Dialogues
We also had a chance to experience extremely thrilling adventures! Thanks to snow leopard adventures we had a chance to participate in different adventures like river rafting, cliff jumping, zip lining, rappelling, trekking, etc.  Almost all of us managed to over come our phobias, be it heights, water, etc.  We learnt to trust the system, the process, the guiding team and most importantly ourselves!  Cliff Jumping was one of the most thrilling adventures.  We started by doing it once and some of us even went to do it for up to 4 times!
Cliff Jumping... a thrilling experience!
Cliff Jumping… a thrilling experience!
...And River Rafting!
…And River Rafting!
Another day, we also built our own rafts with some materials given to us like tyres and ropes. We also boated  in the Ganges using our handmade rafts.
Students try out their hand made raft!
Students try out their hand made raft!
We also played a special game called Spider Web Game.  All these activities taught us team work and other leadership qualities.
Spider Web Game
Spider Web Game
At the beginning we sometimes wondered what these activities had to do with leadership… but we later realized later that the small values we learnt after every activity contributed amusingly towards the making of a young leader.  The peak of the experience was to come up with leadership projects that we will work on individually over the next year.  Stay posted to hear about how these work out.  We are really excited about starting Junior College and about making our leadership projects work.
We would like to thank everyone who made this possible. Roopa Purushothaman – for providing us this opportunity, Sir James Abraham – for sponsoring our trip, Tamara Philip – for chaperoning us, and last but not the least – our parents for allowing us to grasp this opportunity!
All photos in this post are from the TSALS facebook page.

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