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A Unique USM Experience

Sr. Monica Cardoso FDCC Sr. Monica Cardoso FDCC
24 Apr 2023
Our surprise started at the very entrance to the USM where we were welcomed with joy and smiles by the members of the USM family.

The Enlightened Leadership Training Programme at the Universal Solidarity Movement (USM), Indore from  April 12 to 18 was a unique experience. Apart from me, there were 16 students and one teacher from Canossa Convent High School, Dhule, Maharashtra who participated in the week-long programme which was nothing less than a golden opportunity.   

It all started when I met Fr. Varghese Alengaden, the founder of USM who passed away recently, in Porbandar for the Peace Convention in January 2023. I was motivated to bring a group of students from our school to USM for leadership training.  Sixteen students happily volunteered to take part in the training.  

Our surprise started at the very entrance to the USM where we were welcomed with joy and smiles by the members of the USM family. 

The training programme was very enriching, informative, inspiring, enlightening and it gave us new insights and awareness on various issues. It was a heart-touching experience for me, even though I had attended a different training in USM earlier, especially because it was held in the absence of Fr. Alengaden.  

The movies shown during the training were inspiring and motivating. They had messages and  lessons for our life.  They taught us how to be visionary leaders and role models; they inspired us to seek truth and die for our convictions. They motivated us to live for others. At a personal level, the movies gave more clarity on the difference between religiosity and spirituality. The movie Gandhi inspired us to be non-violent persons in our words and thoughts.  

The classes gave us courage and strength to make changes in our personal life – the way of thinking and responding to situations.  The sharing by students and others helped me to learn many new things. I began to think, “what more can I do for my students?” 

From Ms. Neetu Joshi’s talks on different topics and Father Alengaden’s recorded video talks, I have picked up a few points for my life such as “indifference is the biggest sin”.  As an animator, I need to train and help young people to fight against the evil forces in society.  Pluralism is another concept which gave me clarity in my thinking. I understood that it is acceptance, appreciation and promotion of differences or diversities.  Another sentence that deeply touched me is “Humanity is religion”. I was very much influenced by a statement of Fr. Alengaden “Be your own role model”.  

The prayer and personal reflections gave me an opportunity to formulate vision, goals and policies for myself and for the school. I learned that goals are to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  In the light of the insights and learning during the training, I make the following commitments to myself. 

•    To read 3 books in a month and write a book review.
•    To practice the five paths for personal transformation recommended by the USM and to exhibit them on the school notice board for all to see. 
•    To read the newspaper daily with critical thinking.
•    To do physical exercise for 30 minutes daily in the morning.
•     To appreciate five teachers and five students daily. 
•    To teach our teachers how to write book reviews. 
•    To give the book Sangam to all guests who come to our school.  

I specially remember Fr. Varghese who was and is the force behind USM and its programmes.  May God grant him eternal bliss!

I would like to conclude with a quote by John Maxwell. “A leader is one who sees more than others, who sees further than others see, and sees before others do”.  Fr. Varghese said, “Success is for those who dare to stand firm at all times”

(The writer is the principal of Canossa Convent High School, Dhule, Maharashtra)

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