Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fwd: Swaraj University Orientation round for 2014-16 program, 31 May - 1 June 2014, @Udaipur, Rajasthan

Swaraj University admissions are now open for the 5th batch of khoji-learners. Please mark the dates for 1st Round of Orientation: May 31 and June 1, 2014.
For more info, please write to <swarajuni@gmail.com> and check out http://www.swarajuniversity.org

Scroll down to read about experiences of some of the Khojis!



Stories from the journey of some khojis from the 2012-14 batch:


​Coming from a small village near Amritsar, 21 year old Kamalbir Kaur was, at the time of joining Swaraj, a withdrawn, shy girl who had just graduated but wasn't sure what she wanted to do in life. She was disturbed by reckless consumerism in society and wanted to do something about it. At Swaraj she found the time, the space and the trusted peer group to groom her creativity and her passion for stopping waste. She found her calling when she tried her hand at the sewing machine, was glued to it for several days and started churning out bags, purses, wallets etc made from waste materials. She hasn't looked back since; she visited various handicrafts organizations in the country like Karm Marg and Green the Gap. Learning from their models, she has now started a social enterprise of her own, selling her designer line of bags and other accessories all made from waste materials. She has trained and employed some girls from a nearby village and is working on increasing output to meet the rising demand for her bags from friends, exhibitions and handicraft stores. Social inclusion, women's empowerment and zero-waste philosophies are high priorities for this budding entrepreneur. When asked about the subtler shifts during her journey in Swaraj, Kamalbir talks about her increased self-confidence, positivity, rigour, and ability to understand and work with all kinds of people learned from the experiences of starting an enterprise from scratch. She envisions a future where she can spread the idea of simple living and ending consumerism.



Nikhil Sheth, 28, from Pune, left a corporate job in the IT sector in 2010 to spend time understanding the world and find his true calling. After some volunteering and a brief stint with an educational NGO, his explorations led him to Swaraj University. Here, he found the supportive peer group and autonomy in determining his learning that he had been searching for. With a broad vision of transitioning to a sustainable and happy world, he has dabbled in various fields, from rethinking education to event management, web design for social causes to organic farming and off-the-grid living. He is passionate about connecting people and dreams about living a life close to nature. He says that the program gave him radically different and deep perspectives into the root causes behind various social issues, and linked him up to a huge national and international community of change-makers and problem solvers. He plans to take the idea of Swaraj (self-rule) and gift culture forward and work on throwing the spotlight on the many little-known solutions and alternatives that can solve most problems.



Nachiketa Doctor, 23, from Baroda, grew up diagnosed as a "dyslexic" child. After failing to clear class 10 several times and not being able to find suitable avenues for growth, he came to Swaraj University in 2012. His love for animals took him to internships with animal treatment and rescue organizations. Simultaneously he was exploring his interests in music and dance. A volunteering stint at a weeklong conference in Pune introduced him to event organization. After that, he started exploring the theater platform and there found a way to express himself and connect with people. He worked with theater groups in Kolkota and Delhi, and participated in a cross-country traveling theater tour with a 12-person group performing  "Mr.India", a play about displaced communities. They did 34 shows in 5 states across the country including Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and reached over 5000 people, performing at villages and settlements where displaced communities were residing. Through his involvement he has cultivated a deep understanding of various social justice issues. Asked what have been his learnings, he observes a big difference in his outlook towards the world, and narrates how finding his calling in theater and in caring for others helped him change his behavior and reactions to situations for the better. In the future, he hopes to open up theater for more kids who are being labeled as slow learners, and continue performing theater for social issues.



​Siddharth Yamkar, 22, hails from a mountainous tribal community in Maharashtra. Deeply unsatisfied with the lack of any real learning in his engineering course in Mumbai, he dropped out midway and joined Swaraj University in 2012. He believes in learning by doing and integrating hands-on work with design and planning. After a series of internships with pioneers in solar and pedal-powered technologies and experimenting with several self-designed projects, he has mixed his passion for machines with the ideas of sustainability to learn designing and fabricating end-to-end solutions for solar heating, electricity and more. He plans to be a renewable energy entrepreneur and is currently interning with SELCO, Bangalore. His creations include a solar charging backpack and a solar cooker made out of recycled materials.

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