UPES sophomore’s leadership talk gets rousing reception from Indonesian students
Ritika Srivastav, a journalism student at UPES School of Modern Media, successfully completed a ‘Leader In Me’ session that saw participation from 350 high school students from Indonesia
The lens through which one looks at leadership depends upon the experiences of an individual. For some, leadership is about ambitious risk-taking; for others, it is about compassionate caregiving. As for UPES student Ritika Srivastav, a leader is a person who can fight against odds to bring about change.
This ‘change’ was evident when around 350 students from Budi Luhur High School, Indonesia confidently shared their stories of transformation during a ‘Leader In Me’ session conducted by Ritika. She was invited by AIESEC – a global platform for young people to develop their leadership potential – to spearhead the session.
“It started three months ago when I got selected as the facilitator at AIESEC, Indonesia. Two weeks later, I got another email from them asking me to steer a session on leadership on August 11,” says Ritika, a second-year BA Journalism and Mass Communication student at the UPES School of Modern Media.
During the dry run for the event, Ritika admits that she anticipated small audience participation as it happens with several webinars. However, she was in for a surprise. “It was an early morning session. At best, I was expecting 50 students. But when I joined the session, I got a screenshot from one of the organisers, which showed that hundreds of students had already logged in. Imagine 350 students on an online zoom call. It was overwhelming,” she joyfully recounts.
She started her presentation with greetings in Indonesian followed by fun, ice-breaker questions. “I wanted to make an emotional connect with the students while keeping the session interactive,” Ritika explains. “I also learnt about the country’s President Honourable Joko Widodo and his leadership styles, and I used that in my presentation to strike a chord. The students were intelligent and responded to all the questions I had put across. They were not merely putting answers in the chatbox, but were voicing their opinions with enthusiasm over the mic,” she adds.
The story of transformation
In the presentation, Ritika also dedicated some time to storytelling as she feels that it is a powerful, inclusive, and key leadership technique. “I told the students my story of transition – from overcoming bullying to becoming this confident person that I am today. I thought that they might not connect to my narrative because I come from a different cultural background and the incidents that have happened with me may not have happened to them. However, when I shared my story, they immediately reacted and began sharing their experiences without hesitation. They, too, had either undergone or were going through similar circumstances,” she says.
Ritika’s courage to speak about her journey in front of hundreds of students in an online space inspired those students to find a voice. “I never thought that I would be able to encourage someone, let alone 350 students, to speak up with one small story. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she acknowledges.
Recalling her experience with bullying, Ritika shares, “Post that phase, I had lost confidence and thought I would not be able to talk on a public platform again. My grades in high school were also affected because of that. But when I came to UPES, I was welcomed with affection and got so much support that I took up the opportunity to become the Class Representative. And by the end of the first year, my peers were happy with the kind of work I had done. They all texted me saying that they wanted me to continue as the class rep for the next two years as well. That boosted my confidence a lot and also helped in improving my grades,” reiterating the importance of holistic development for academic success.
“All this would not have been possible without my friends, faculty and my maternal grandmother who always believed in me,” she adds. “In the future, I want to make a mark in the field of journalism.”