In the first class of July, we used an online website to play a trivia game. There were many varieties of questions from Iskcon related to facts about the world. Everyone thought it was fun and it was nice to take a break in order to play a game.
The next class was also unusual in the sense that we had never done anything like it before. First, you were supposed to figure out if, in a group project, you’re the person who leads the group or listens to others discuss. In this activity, the goal was to break out of our shells so if you generally do one, you were told to do the other. Many people said they do both depending on the situation, but most of the time, you lean slightly more towards one than the other. After we had decided, Satya Sara Prabhu put us into small groups/breakout rooms on zoom where we could have private conversations. We were supposed to decide what we would do based on a scenario; it was that you and three of your friends go on a yacht, but are stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean after a storm. You have some supplies and you need to rate them in the order of which is most important. This activity helped us realize our regular patterns and break out of them and it was completely unique because most of us had never used zoom breakout rooms before.
In the 3rd class, the main topic was leadership. We discussed questions such as “Who is a leader? What does a leader do? What is their main goal?” A leader models, contributes, inspires, challenges, enables, cares for, and encourages others to perform extraordinary tasks at extraordinary times. A strong leader guides people by example and knows the importance of equality and truth. An example is if you’re part of a group and one of the members isn’t contributing, what do you do? Well, there are many solutions. You could show compassion and empathize with them about their situation, you could understand why they are unmotivated to perform their tasks, or if all else fails, you could ask a higher authority to step in.
The Bhagavad Gita also says a lot about leadership in verse 3.21:
yad yad acarati sresthas, tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute, lokas tad anuvartate
Translation: Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
We were also shown an example of bad leadership. This was when a cigarette company advertised cigarettes as one step closer to gender equality in order to get a larger percent of the population to begin smoking, even though they knew about the adverse effects of smoking on the human body. It was highly unacceptable because they exploited people’s emotions to make money by pretending like they supported women. One of their famous slogans was “Lighting the torch to freedom”, which sounds great, except the marketing was for selfish reasons.
Lastly, in the fourth class, we mainly focused on planning the temple skit that would be enacted on Janmashtami through zoom. Harini and Kirtan were the main co-ordinators so they were in charge of planning everything and following it through with us. In class we heard the story, came up with ideas for ways to film, and chose each person’s roles. We decided that in the next class we would film, so it was important to discuss everything in this class.