The Focus of Orientation Sessions

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

I have observed that some of the most important lessons of life are learnt on a mother’s knees. Unfortunately, we forget those important issues and again search them or sometimes “research” them in universities and colleges around the world. We were all taught so very early in life that we must be patient, nice to others, listen to what others say and try and help others who need us; our mothers and grand-mothers always encouraged us to make more and more friends, forget those little conflicts we may have had with others, and go on to the extent of sharing our food in our schools with others. Then, I distinctly remember my father telling me so many times that he continues to learn something everyday-I found that quite strange when I was a little child, say just 5 or 6 years old, as I imagined that my parents knew almost everything. But they insisted that our desire and attempts to learn must continue always. Not being able to understand the logic and the philosophy behind what they said, I found it most convenient to forget most of those things-they weren’t so interesting after all, they were more of a parental sermon. There is one important thing here:
whenever I came up with a new kind of a “stupid” idea, I was immediately told that I did not understand the whole thing and that I needed to follow what had been done all along and to learn what was being taught by my parents, and of course the teachers in my school. They could be the right persons only to guide me. No matter how strongly I felt about some particular matter, I was silenced because I was a child. Although my parents said they would learn all their lives, they could naturally not be expected to learn from their little kid.

Today, I have such a different view. I find that a lot of what was said was the real truth. All those ideas about friendship, about understanding and constant learning are matters that I have comprehended and imbibed out of my higher education and international exposure. Quite an expensive and time consuming manner of learning that was made possible very simply. But thank God, at least some sense has dawned. But really, has it?

Let me get down to the learning process in lions clubs. We have new members joining us and we feel and are convinced that these new members have to be indoctrinated and oriented. So we stress upon orientation meetings. And who conducts these meetings? Obviously, senior members who have a lot of experience and knowledge and whose store of such overall view of the affairs of the association can enlighten our new friends. So here we are: An orientation meeting for 90 to 120 minutes with ideals being taught and preached by those who are perhaps experts. Even I agreed that this was the right thing to do. But that was till some time ago; now my views have changed.

So where do I stand today? Let me enumerate my views:

  1. Lionism is a simple philosophy: be good, meet good people, invest your time for searching the purpose of life, share ideas, and learn from the experiences of life. Nothing needs to be done in any kind of a dogmatic manner. Each individual best know how he or she should follow this course. But we must have some generally accepted ground rules of mutual respect and regard and that is what we call our club policies and so on. They are not the prime thing; they are incidental and will simpl;y follow once we realize the greater value of this organization.
  2. That it is not the senior members who should be providing the orientation. Like those “stupid” ideas which I had as a child, every new member will have them too. They are the jewels of creativity in their raw form. Let us encourage them, not kill them. The future is theirs, not ours. In future, we will be gone, and these new members will be running the association. There is no reason why they should do things that we did, or the way we did. There is little purpose in our giving them sermons. Rather, we should:
    • Listen to them, why they joined us?
    • What did they expect of their membership?
    • Did they discover what they wanted?
    • Are they satisfied, or are they getting disillusioned?
    • What would they like us to do differently so that they feel more
    • What would they like us to stop doing as they find it ridiculous?
    • Do they find the organization modern and contemporary?
    • Are they finding value in our meetings and service programs?
    • How do they feel about making an impact an changing the world?
  3. Then perhaps we can work out a way of telling them some of the vital experiences we have had in the past and try and relate to their visions.

This should be the orientation session. Simple talk, but very briefly by the so called seniors and knowledgeable persons. More and more, at least 75% of the time to be given to the new members to speak and express their ideas. We need to be oriented with their visions and views of the future. Once we do this, we will have established the bridge of communication, and the process of learning will start. Not only the new members learning from us, but even we would be learning from them, perhaps more importantly. That is the only way to move forward. What appears stupid to us may be the seeds of future innovations, trends and sometimes even current designs. We are so deeply steeped in the past with so much of legacy investment that we may be finding it difficult to see what does not conform to our mental views. The face of the future is sometimes so radically different from the past and the present that even a brief reference to it may scare us. We need to be oriented!

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