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Six Months in

Six Months in

How time flies. Six months have passed so quickly! I remember the day I turned to Yajur Shah, National President of NHSF (UK) and informed him that I wanted to dedicate a year to the organisation. Soon after, I became the National Vice President and Sabbatical Officer for NHSF (UK). Since day one, the journey has been incredible. I have managed to meet Hindu societies across the UK and had the opportunity to speak to various organisations about the work NHSF (UK) is doing in the community.

Every person has their own journey whilst being on the National Committee and mine has had its fair share of challenges. I’ve had to push myself out of my comfort zone over these last six months in order to be able to speak to various community members, organisations, mandirs and chapters. I recall this one moment where I met a family and had to spend the night at their home. This made me feel apprehensive as they barely knew me; yet invited me into their home to stay. I spoke to them about NHSF (UK) and our 25th Anniversary. The next day, before they went to work, they gave me the keys to their home and asked me to stay until I finished my work. Lastly, they told me to lock up when I left! I was frozen in that moment, I thought to myself: ‘How can someone who only met me one day ago, have so much trust in me that they can leave me in their home alone?’ This moment truly made me realise how much others value the work that I am doing for society.

I went on to encounter other individuals who opened their home to me, shared their stories with me and asked me to share mine. I will never forget meeting Harsh Modi at Mahashibir, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh’s 50th Anniversary event. I asked him: “What did you feel like you achieved during your vistaar? (sabbatical)” He smiled at me and replied: “It’s not about achieving things. Don’t look at it like that, simply take in all the experience around you.” Throughout the last six months, I have tried to do that. To take in every experience, whether it be good or bad for me. I’ve had to quickly learn how to take every bad experience with a pinch of salt. This has helped me to develop and become a stronger person. After all, there is no point dwelling on bad experiences.

Skills for my own development have been put at the forefront of my mind over the last six months as well; I was able to become a qualified first aider and fire marshal. I enrolled onto an events course online so I could learn more about events management and pursue a career as an Events Coordinator. I also had the opportunity to complete a ten-day meditation course called ‘Vipassana Meditation’ where I was able to understand ‘Anicha’, which means the law of change. Things are not always the same, such as emotions; arising and passing. This gave me a different perspective on life and now I try to remember ‘Anicha’ in my everyday actions.

Over the last few months, I have been able to build new links by networking with other organisations, such as the Union of Jewish Students, Religions for Peace and Armed Forces Hindu Network. Religions for Peace held a summit where they discussed extremism deeply. The knowledge they provided me was invaluable and now I am able to teach others. Spending time with the Union of Jewish Students meant that I was able to go to Poland with other Sabbatical Officers and learn about the events of the Holocaust. This experience taught me about Jewish history and allowed me to connect more with their faith. I was able to explain my faith to them and strengthen the bond between both student organisations.

Visiting Hindu societies throughout this year has given me the understanding of how each society works and what vision they are striving for. Hindu societies are the heart of NHSF (UK) and getting to know them makes me truly believe each one is simply unique. This year, history was made as NHSF Lincoln and Anglia Ruskin joined our family. I was able to attend NHSF Coventry’s weekly aarti to learn more about the epic events of the Ramayana and even see NHSF Aston perform Rama’s journey on stage. No doubt, the NHSF Swansea committee has provided me with many laughs as they shared their university experience with me. Seeing each chapter across the country really makes me appreciate the work that they do at a local level.

Finally, looking back, the last six months have been terrific. Everyone has been so supportive! The advice many leaders from Hindu networks, organisations and Hindu societies have given me; has been greatly appreciated. I have developed many skills and competencies and will use those to  continue to develop the organisation and myself for the future. Now the journey continues and I look to ensure that NHSF (UK) grows and becomes a strong forum for Hindu students.

— Author: Jaimal Patel
Vice President and Sabbatical Officer NHSF (UK)