AIESEC World Cafe: A Platform that facilitates discussion
MANIPAL: AIESEC Manipal hosted World Cafe, an event that brought together students from various colleges of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) to discuss various relevant issues prevalent in the world on February 28 at the Manipal Amphitheatre.
The event was conducted by letting the students take part in small group discussions where they could freely express their individual views about topics pertaining to mental health, the LGBTQ community (particularly section 377), the objectification of women and misogyny in pop culture, and the disputes that occur between countries, in the light of the recent Indo-Pak conflict. Akanksha Kadam, Vice-President of the Core Committee of the event, said that the agenda of the event was to help change the thought process or the opinion of at least one person on the issues discussed.
Participants were encouraged to be open to learning, to interact with and meet as many new people as possible, and to respect the opinions put forth by others. Once the discussion of a question was complete, participants had to move on to another group for the next question, which facilitated maximum interaction amongst those present.
In relation to a discussion on transgender rights, Gauri Gupta, a first year aeronautical student of Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), spoke about how India has transgender rights put down on paper but not put into action by the authorities. “It is going to take a lot of time before we accept the LGBTQ community wholeheartedly,” said Gauri who also expressed her strong belief in seeking help with regards to mental health.
Elaborating on the idea behind small group discussions, Jassil Jamaludhin, President of AIESEC in MAHE, said that people are more comfortable when they are put in smaller groups and tend to be more vocal about their opinions rather than in a larger audience. “Change starts right now by talking about things that matter,” he commented, as he addressed the gathering of students.
S. V. Shivadithya, automobile engineering student, second year, MIT, said that it was a great event as people got to talk about things that they usually would not talk about when they mingle with their friends. He goes on to describe World Cafe as a ‘mind-opening’ event. Second year MCODS student, Andrea Gonsalves, described the event as ‘”brilliant and well organised, that opened up lots of avenues for her.”
Towards the end of the event, some participants expressed their wish to continue the conversation either at another time or on a different platform, by perhaps creating a WhatsApp group to discuss the issues already addressed at the event and any other issues that would arise at a later time. The event ended with the participants penning their worries on Post-It notes that were dropped into a box.
In order to keep the event from getting too overwhelming, the organisers had also planned various fillers, which included a street play performed by Absolute Dramatics Addiction (ADA) regarding mental health issues, a talk delivered by Prof. Veena Maben, Deputy Director, Student Affairs, MIT and a musical performance by, Gouri Bhat, an MIT student.
Featured Image Courtesy: Yeshaswini Srihari
Edited by: Niharika Nambiar