Roxane de Beaucorps, Alliance Coordinator
Roxane is sharing her experience as a Catalyst with the Youth of Paharganj in Delhi
In a few weeks, I’ll be leaving India. I arrived in the LP4Y center of Paharganj in October 2020 to start my new mission as Alliance Coordinator. I was so excited to finally leave France and live the Catalyst life on the field. Yet, like any fresh Catalyst, I was pretty nervous to meet the Youth. I had so many questions: How to find the right coach posture, how would they react, how to overcome the language gap, will they like me? I was also asking myself many questions regarding my legitimacy to accompany those Youth towards their professional integration, as I myself did not have any proper professional experience. I had heard that Paharganj was a difficult center, where the Youth sometimes faced addiction and drug problems, and I was wondering how things were going to happen. I still remember my first handshake. I was looking at Romain, the coach, trying to imitate him. I was impressed by his confidence, and how easy it was for him to communicate with the Youth. The latter welcomed me with great smiles, firm handshakes, and they started asking me millions of questions about myself. All my fears disappeared, and I felt so lucky to be there! Throughout the months I understood that, as Catalyst, my role was not to become their friend but to help them in shaping their professional path.
Most LP4Y Youth have complex life experiences, and sometimes tragic family history. In Paharganj, many Youth grew up in shelters, in the street or in a complex family situation. Throughout the months, we faced many challenges in this regard. Some of the Youth were working at night in factories, while following the programme during the day. Some young women were managing everything at home, sometimes taking care of their children on top of the programme. Some other Youth were facing serious drug addictions, meaning all their allowance was usually spent on drugs instead of food. All of those situations actually made me aware of how lucky I was, growing up in a safe environment. I was always so impressed by their professionalism, and how they tried to display motivation in any circumstances. As resilience and self-belief are not always a requirement to success in the Western professional world, they are the driving forces of the Youth in India! This really gives me hope for the remaining Youth out there, struggling with their life and wondering what their future will be made of! Anything is possible as long as you provide yourself with the means to do it! Sometimes, you just need someone telling you “You can do it” to achieve your dreams!
Seeing the Youth everyday, giving them training and getting to know more about them and their different histories is at the very heart of our mission as Catalysts. I particularly cherished family visits and mobilization sessions in Delhi’ slums. Even though the Youth’ families usually don’t speak English, we can feel they are so happy to share their stories. They are always so welcoming, treating us like guests of honor. Most of those families are living in a two-room house, with five to eight people sharing one room only. And yet, according to them, life is not so bad. Those family visits actually were a knock, but also gave me true humaneness lessons. I surely will keep those memories alive my whole life.
What really gives meaning to it is the evolution of the Youth, and how they blossom throughout their PTE. Day after day, their communication skills improve, and they gain confidence! More importantly, they become aware of their potential and how valuable they can be in the professional world! I remember some of the Youth on their first day, unable to string two English words together and so scared of speaking in public. Some of those Youth today work in big companies, and manage a whole team! Since my arrival, I witnessed dozens of amazing transformations, and I feel so grateful for that! I quickly realized that not only were the Youth growing, but more importantly that they were surely helping me grow as well! I know this sounds like the perfect cliché sentence, and yet it has never been so true! They taught me so much, and actually gave some key life lessons they might not even be aware of.
During my first weeks, I remember discussing with older Catalysts and asking them about LP4Y’s impact in their lives. All of them agreed: it is a life changing experience, questioning and changing your perspectives. And now I get it. I am leaving India in ten days now. My journey at LP4Y is not over yet, and I hope to continue growing every single day!