Twelfth of March 2016 was like any other spring Saturday, with the sun shining down the front lawns, some running for work and some basking in the laziness of the dawn of another weekend. Little did many knew, that beyond the threshold of a school in Jaipur, a little pulse of revolution was throbbing. Jaipur City Learning unConference, organized within the mesh windows and yellow walls of Samarth School, in association with Pravah (Jaipur) and Shikshantar, was an alternate Conference bringing people of all ages to learn, teach, co-create together with other like minded people. It was a place to meet local learning communities who brought their work, skills, processes, projects, produce, books, gifts, ideas and conversations that is and can further transform our city Jaipur.
There are some people that go with the defined flow of life, following the herd, meddling in with the stereotypes and making their life a dance routine and then there are some who come out of the trance of survival on earth and actually look around their worlds to find the deepest meaning of their lives. The unConference was nothing but an amalgamation of such people, who wanted nothing, but to break the shackles of following the society imposed conventions and live a life that, their uniqueness defined for them.
At first sight, it was overwhelming to know where to be or where not in the bunch of almost all strange faces, but thanks to the organizers, who began the event with fun participation open to all, the fun activities consisted of co-operative games and soon the ice began to break and the strange faces started melting and reforming as acquaintances.
The entire premise of the school was divided in activity zones. The rooms was slotted for variety of workshops and sessions – like Urban farming at zero budget, restorative justice, story telling, circle dance, bottle art, alternative education, social entrepreneurship. The programs like You Lead talks, Elder Earth Project, consisted of story-telling and sharing one’s life experience and lessons with an overall view of making Jaipur a learning City.
The school’s balconies and rooftop were adorned with colorful stalls. All the stalls were an end result of innovation and creativity. One could find various sorts of art and craft items ranging from dream catchers to paper earrings, homemade food items such as chocolates, brownies, muffins etc. and stalls representing various initiatives such as that of showcasing and promoting the concept of importance of practical learning in schools.
One of the things that highlighted the essence of the event was the “Dariya Dil ki Dukan”, where one could buy anything present in the stall with smile being the currency for the means of exchange. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the workshops, the open verandahs were a beautiful mixture of people indulging themselves in various art forms. There was painting, singing, pottery making and dance circle. In all the alternate corners, one could find food stalls, feeding the organizers, the volunteers and the visitors with fresh juice, snacks and food according to the need of time. A room was dedicated to DIY Film festivals showing short movies throughout the day. In the end, groups were formed and initiatives were taken by people working in different domains to step forward and plan to create a change in the domain where they would like to see one.
Some people came with a purpose, some with a message, some to find a way, some to experience new things and some simply to enjoy. Whatever be the intention, the unConference proved itself to be satisfying everyone’s expectation in some way or the other.
As much as one would like to break down the event in the form of facts and architecture, the truth is that the actual beauty was not in organization or management or the decoration but simply the quality of people present. Everyone has a story behind them and this was the place where all were appreciated without any preconceived notions of what the society defined for us. There were new friends made, heartfelt exchange of life stories, experiences and lessons. Some shed tears, some stammered in opening up and some just kept smiling all the way through but if there’s one thing that surely happened was that everyone at one point in time on that day would have felt a certain joy of being in a place where the notion of “fitting in” ceased to exist.