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Navgurukul Students at Bangalore during a theatre exercise

Learning and Loving in the Times of Corona at Navgurukul

Surabhi Yadav
Mar 29 · 11 min read

Dear NGite,

Kaise ho? :)

COVID has captivated all of us and the world in our houses. And last ten days have brought a mixed bag of emotions for all of us.

Some of our community members have suffered more than others — those who were planning to go home for the first time in a year couldn’t leave, those who had gone home and were planning to return, now can’t return to finish their course anytime soon.

Some of you were on the verge of getting a job after finishing the course when your interviews got cut short. Some of you had just joined the campus when all of sudden classes got disturbed.

Parents of a lot of our community members are into profession which depend on everyday earnings — tailor, daily-wage labourers, rickshaw drivers, cycle repairing shops, waste-pickers and so on. Many families are doing everything to keep groceries for even a week in homes. The loss of their earnings and jobs is felt on every single day to them and everyone dependent on them.

We all know how important this course and the job is for each one of you — a precious thing which is pushed away from you with every passing day.

Restrictions on campus to not go out of your tribes and building must have been not only hard but confusing and full of grief.

Navgurukul team feels for you and want to say huge thank you.

Because amid all of this personal life chaos, you responded with so much love and leadership. Some of you reassured us on phone : “ Didi, aap tension mat lo, hum badhiya hai!”, “Bhaiya, hum dekh lenge, sab ho jayega” “Abhi alumni free ho gaya jyada toh kafi madad kar sakte hai”

Within four days of initial chaos, students from both campuses came forward to form Corona Task Force. Someone became the hygiene monitor, other became discipline monitor. Someone started tribe wise Zumba, someone decided to talk to the family of others to calm them down.

You, like always, have responded chaos with love and fun as much as possible.

We want to take a moment to answer all your questions in detail keep in one place — to keep reminding you about the arrangements and changes we all are making in current times.

And as an internal discussion, prepare as if this is going to last for more than 21 days. The future is uncertain for all of us — the beauty is this despair is that we are connected as never before.

So, here is a list of your frequently asked questions, as a reminder, a reassurance and a plan as we all prepare to adjust to our new normal.

Remember, as long as we are keeping the each other at a priority, we will get through this.

Pyar, Vishwas and Jigyasa ke saath
Navgurukul Team

— — — — — — ***** — — — — -— — -
A. Campus Values: Constant Things in Corona

  • Cause above ego — each one of us is shaping Navgurukul and we take that responsibility with kindness and love. Individual ego is to be won by a reminder that this community thrives because of each one of us.

B. Campus Operations

1. Will Navgurukul close the campus?

Since the time before the lockdown, we have followed the policy to not close down the campus until all the students decide to leave it. Apart from the classes, we are also a residence for our students.

We understand that not everyone can afford to leave for their home-towns instantly and also, do not feel safe going back to their homes during rising tensions.

As the news of COVID spread in the country started to pour in during mid-March, the leave-policy at Navgurukul was relaxed and students were allowed to choose to go back to their homes. We also discussed the potential risks and benefits of going back to home during rising uncertainty and risk of getting an infection during travelling. Those who chose to leave were immediately allowed to do so. Some wanted to leave but couldn’t

2. Would Navgurukul’s ongoing operations a violation of MOHA’s order of a complete lockdown?

No, as per the MHA’s guidelines for the lockdown, there are no constraints on residential campuses and non-profit organisations that run so. We have stopped running our regular classes since mid-March. But have not vacated our hostel to ensure that our students get all the support that they need when they are away from their homes.

3. What happens to grocery shopping for everyday meals?

Each campus has enough stock of all the staple food ingredients — flour, rice, pulses, spices, sugar etc. The kitchen would run as per usual with a key exception that the groceries would be bought once in every ten days. The guidelines of how to procure this with great safety is communicated to each campus and the Kitchen coordinators and the facility incharges are responsible to ensure they are followed strictly.

The guidelines include allowing only two people to go out with masks, gloves and sanitizers. In Bangalore campus, a local vendor has agreed to deliver the order on campus. In Dharamshala campus, students will have to go between 8–11 AM adhering to the the local police’s rules. The items would be kept locked in a room for atleast two days before anything is used. The students who go out would immediately take bath and wash their clothes before interacting with anyone on campus.

4. What happens to our learning and volunteer sessions during Corona lockdown?

Thankfully Navgurukul runs on mentoring model and not on teacher-student interaction model. All the students on campus and those outside who have access to laptops would continue learning on their own and interact with their mentors online or on terrace/open space on campus at a distance.

No volunteer/mentor from outside can visit the campus. The sessions would be arranged online whenever needed. The Training and Placement coordinators have made a tighter mentor-mentee check-in schedule to ensure

C. Community Health : Precautions against COVID

5. What is Navgurukul doing to ensure the safety of its students?

A lot of structural changes have been made in the way we do our everyday things:
1. No body is allowed to go outside the campus or visit it from outside except in case of buying essentials once in every ten days.
2. The person going out will have to follow a strict hygiene protocol. Or if someone is coming from home delivery, the produce needs to kept away in an secluded room/corner for at least two days before it can be used.
3. Proper information about personal and community hygiene is communicated and is strictly followed with the help of Corona Task Force members, council members, facility in-charge and team members.
4. No group study sessions are allowed anymore. Everyone is advised to practice social distancing and hang out with their tribe members only.
5. The team is regularly in touch with everyone to answer everyday queries and decision making. The communication on our internal Cliq and Whatsapp channels are more frequent than ever. The team-members have spoken to each student personally and in small groups to ensure their concerns are addressed
5. There is enough stock of soaps and sanitizers in both campuses.

6. How should I prepare for living in current situation?

1. Good quality information is key to staying alert and updated.
2. Create a routine that you can stick to for a couple of months. Since no one really can say what’s going to happen in next 21 days, we should be prepared for a worst case scenario of a long-term lockdown.
3. Physical exercise and something to do emotional well-being like meditation, journalling, gratitude logging etc, Get some sun and fresh air on terrace and balcony.
4. Plan fun activities and challenges with your tribe members
5. Make smaller learning milestones. Maybe for every three days or five days, so you can be steady in your learning without having to motivate yourself for really big things in the times of uncertainty.

7. Will Navgurukul offer us medical assistance in case of need?

In Navgurukul, medical funds come under personal expenses which are borne by the students. But since this is a critical crisis time, we would consider sharing the expense burden for medical expenses especially on case-by-case basis.

8. What should I do if I am showing symptoms of Corona?

  1. Immediately inform the team and the facility-in-charge. Don’t be afraid or shy of informing even if you develop a doubt. We will ensure you get timely attention and support.

D. Mental Health : Preparing Emotionally for COVID

9. What should I do when I feel very anxious and fearful in times of Corona?
Feeling anxious and fearful sometimes is very natural during current time when most things are at a standstill in the world and the news of people dying is fresh everyday. Things are uncertain and are changing rapidly.

But this is also a time to improve your emotional resilience — learn about your emotions management and strengthen your support system. A good thing is that there has been an ongoing conversation about this in Navgurukul culture since forever so, just hold on to those discussions and practices when things get rough. Some of these suggestions include:

* Remind yourself to be present — wherever you are in the moment and not rush into scary possibilities of the future. Meditate, take a walk on the terrace, journal, share your feelings
* Set a news/worry hour — Keeping yourself updated is important but it doesn’t have to take all the mind space. Set a fixed time for reading news/getting Corona information. Save the links that you want to go through if you come across them during other times and go through them once done. Try to not do this before sleeping or immediately after waking up, preferably just before your exercise/dancing time.
*Share the load — Talk it out with a community member or a close friend outside the campus over phone, whoever you trust to understand your mental state.
*Dance it out — Any form of physical exercise helps in increasing the levels of serotonin in the body and makes it easier to manage stress
*Counselling — Reach out to the mental health counselling support we have through our in-house counsellor, Anuradha Daswani.

10. What should I do if I am feeling feverish and scared if I have Corona?

Keep yourself informed, use good information to be your friend and not an enemy. Not every cough or fever is an indicator of Corona. And even if it is, there is a very good chance you would be able to fight it and get recovered.

If you have any symptoms, immediately inform the facility-in-charge or another team member. We will ensure you get medical support and your family will be informed as well. Until you get to the hospital, you would be relocated in a separate in the campus to ensure others dont get exposed to the same symptoms.

11. What should do when I feel worried about my family who is struggling because of Corona’s economic impact?

It is indeed a very difficult time for many families and it must be hard for you too for staying away from family in such a crisis time.

There are few things you can do to offer your family support and keep yourself calm as well

  • Talk to them everyday and assure them you are doing ok. Let them speak to your friends at Navgurukul as well.

12. I feel low on motivation to study when I don’t know what’s coming ahead for me. How should help myself?

  • Limit news consumption to 1–2 hours

13. How can help another community member who is struggling to be happy?

  • Talk to them about their emotions. Even if it is sadness, anger or frustration, offer them patient listening space. Offer them compassion and understanding. It is a rough time and staying happy all the time shouldn’t be a necessary need.

E. Course Completion and Job Security

14. My time at Navgurukul could be increased because of the delays caused due to these changes. Would I still be allowed to complete my course and go through the job selection process?

Any delay due to Corona wouldn’t impact your need to stay on campus for extended period. We never ask students who are working hard to leave the campus until they get a job. We have never done that before Corona, we certainly wouldn’t do it after it :)

15. What are the chances I will still get a job when COVID has negatively impacted the market?

Yes, the economy is hit negatively and it would impact employment in various sectors. While IT sector would be hit too and thus the efforts required to get the job now would be much more than what we used to put before. But, Navgurukul will still hold on to its promise of getting guaranteed jobs to its students. It would simply mean we will all have to work harder to get them.

F. Culture and Community

16. What can I do to strengthen my Navgurukul community?

  • Awareness and Alertness: Read good quality, verified news about Corona and keep yourself updated with changes in everyday life due to this pandemic. Help your friends learn about new updates but only through verified sources

NavGurukul

NavGurukul offers a one-year residential program in…

Surabhi Yadav

Written by

Founder: sajhesapne.org and @women_at_leisure (Instagram). Can be found excessively talking about dreams of women in villages in India.

NavGurukul

NavGurukul offers a one-year residential program in Software Engineering for underprivileged students to enable an access to aspirational jobs for them. We are working to launch similar courses in Mental Health and Tourism.

Surabhi Yadav

Written by

Founder: sajhesapne.org and @women_at_leisure (Instagram). Can be found excessively talking about dreams of women in villages in India.

NavGurukul

NavGurukul offers a one-year residential program in Software Engineering for underprivileged students to enable an access to aspirational jobs for them. We are working to launch similar courses in Mental Health and Tourism.

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