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Report on the seminar held on 6-8-2010 on the “Goan Volunteer Spirit” organized by Goa Sudharop Community Development Inc. USA in association with VVM’s Shree Damodar College of Commerce and Economics, Margao.
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The program, attended by about 200 Higher Secondary students and staff members of Damodar College and ably compered by students of the college, began with a beautiful invocation song by four students. Dr. L. Bhanu Murthy, Principal of the College then delivered his welcome address wherein he urged the students to make the best use of this opportunity to learn as much as they could from the seminar and from the experienced resource persons.
After the traditional lamp was lit and flowers presented to those on the dais and to the resource persons, Mr. Ibonio D’Souza, Executive Director of Goa Sudharop, delivered the keynote address. Thanking the management, staff members, resource persons and the students for working together as a team to make this seminar possible, Mr. D’Souza also explained the reasons for choosing to celebrate the Spirit of Volunteerism as the Goa Sudharop theme for the year 2010. Not only does Goa Sudharop complete its 10th anniversary of fruitful work in volunteer service for Goa and Goans this year, but the organization also believes that the best way to eliminate various evils from society is by creating a caring and sensitive community. Speaking to the students about the purpose of the seminar, he said it was to enable them to understand how they could make, both individually and collectively, a difference in our ailing society and also positively transform their own lives in the process.
The interactive seminar that followed comprised of four sessions conducted by four different resource persons. The first session “Be the change” was conducted by Mr. Pravin Sabnis, renowned motivational speaker and skilled trainer of “Unlearning Unlimited”. Using several audio-visual clips, Mr. Sabnis explained how we can each instill in ourselves the spirit of participating and working for the welfare of the community and that we have to believe that each one of us can make a difference. He challenged the students to think, to see beyond the obvious, and to develop positive attitudes. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
The next session “Why serve society?” conducted by Acharya Prahlad Chaitanyaji of the Swami Chinmaya Mission, Margao, was a very inspiring session. Using everyday examples, Acharya Prahlad spoke gently yet very convincingly of the importance of service and how service consists primarily of duty, selflessness and unconditional love. When one person in a family is suffering, it is impossible for others in the family to enjoy themselves. Similarly, when a neighbour is in difficulty, we should be empathetic. All of us in society are thus interconnected and it is up to each of us to make the world a better place.
The third session was by Rev. Fr. Kyriel D’Souza, Provincial Superior, Pilar Society, who spoke on the topic “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. Rather than focusing on the negative as is very often done by the media today, Fr. Kyriel spoke of how we can instead develop better attitudes by focusing on the bright side of any situation, read inspiring stories, stay away from negative influences and associate with happy people. The students were shown short movie clips to demonstrate how doing good deeds and offering encouragement is something each of us can effectively practice. Advising the students to read the writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda, Fr. Kyriel said, “This is the moment you can step forward and make a difference”.
The last session was by Dr. Jorson Fernandes, an ENT surgeon and a well experienced speaker. Dr. Jorson spoke on the topic “Volunteerism in me”. Using an audio visual presentation and practical demonstrations, he explained how volunteerism is based on the assessment of the needs of others and providing what is required. He explained how we are not here in this world by chance and that each of us has within us the potential to do much for the community and for society.
Ms. Florence Rebello, lecturer at Damodar College, then gave a brief wrap up of all the sessions. The students were presented with certificates of participation and there was also a special prize and a certificate to the best student participant, Ms. Faheem Shah Aziz. The seminar concluded with a Vote of Thanks by Dr. (Mrs) Manasvi Kamat.