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Zooni Dash
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Zooni Dash - Rourkela, Odisha

I am Zooni Dash from Rourkela, Odisha. I came in touch with IofC and its ideas in 2004 while I was in my 12th standard. After my Masters in 2010 in Sociology from Kolkata, I went to Delhi to find work but realized that I didn't want to live just for Sundays. What I really wanted in life was to grow as a human being, spread happiness and help people change and I found a way to do it. I have been living in Asia Plateau for five years now and am presently a part of a program called Initiates of change for Life. When I met IofC as a 16 year old, I already had something to put right in my life which was not right.

I feel empowered and blessed. One thing that I needed to correct was my having cheated in exams; I had thought that I would fail if I did not copy. The fact was that I found the course to be very difficult and theoretical. When I looked at my life against the four values of PHUL, I got the courage to write to my professors and apologize. My HOD wrote back to me saying that these small mistakes help become a better person. Accepting that the course was theoretical, they started an applied sociology course. This experience has given me the courage to stand up and accept my faults. My correction resulted in unexpected benefits to others.

The one thing I like the most about IofC is the practice of listening to the inner voice. It's been an enriching experience, helping me to evolve as a person. I wanted to grow as a human being, reach out to more people and make this world a happier place with whatever little I can do. At AP, I could do all this.

The importance of Quiet Time has been reinforced in me. I can now connect and listen to my inner voice with much more ease. I have more courage to correct my mistakes; it isn't a big struggle anymore. I have learnt to be patient, tolerant and more understanding. Living among people from different communities and countries and yet forming the kind of bond we have today is something I will treasure throughout my life. I have more confidence to face an audience when I am on stage, to face the world, to stand up against injustice and to face and accept myself because I know that I am the one I most deceive at times.

I am deeply indebted to our youth team and the youth conference; here I realized what makes the conference a success. We are told not to come with a personal agenda, that we need to focus on the conference and the participants and this has really helped me. Servant Leadership is a really powerful tool that I learnt.

In IofC, I realized that the Cross signifies cutting the ego. Also the Cross means thinking beyond myself, that is, thinking about others before I think about myself. This has really touched me and it is something I want to achieve and live.

The issue I am most concerned about today is the lack of compassion. I believe that most of our problems are manifestations of this issue. I am doing my bit to offer compassion from my heart; I hope you will join me someday.

Love and prayers,
Zooni

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