My story: Sunil Lingashetti (Bijapur College of Agriculture)
“You can change your world also.”
Sunil has always remembered living in fear – fear of the unknown. Much of his time spent studying at Bijapur College of Agriculture was spent avoiding communication with others, not eating or sleeping properly, and suffering from a depressed and closed-minded mentality which inhibited his desire to learn or do anything new.
Then came 10 days that completely transformed his life. He attended the 2014 LEAD LEADership Camp because his friend was heavily involved with LEAD and convinced him it would be a good experience. This camp exposed him to the LEAD program and all its offerings. After the camp, he came back to Bijapur a changed man. He was confident, doing well in school, healthy and motivated. He told his friends all about it, but still, they resisted getting involved. He was so determined to have others experience LEAD, however, that he gave an orientation anyways. This first orientation was with six of his friends, but he continued introducing people to the program and has since inspired 200+ registrations, 70% of his location’s projects have been approved, and almost 50 have been completed. Besides this statistical success, the biggest triumph for Sunil was the building of his social identity and leadership. Before, he felt like nobody. Now, everyone (students, faculty…) refer to him as “LEAD Lingaghatti” – he is known by all and saved in people’s mobiles by this name, signifying how much of a peer leader he has become.
An example of his empowerment and transformation is the way he has been able to guide people through the same darkness he was lost in. He recalls a friend of his on the phone with him, in tears because they were afraid to talk to people and to take the leap and join LEAD. Sunil shared his experience with them and let them know that “you can change your world also.”
In addition to mentorship, Sunil also developed a passion for inter-gender communication within the college. He would often gather groups of students together to explore LEAD, but before each meeting, he would make sure people were arranged alternating males and females in order to avoid two divided, gendered groups. He also facilitates ice-breaking activities to break down barriers and encourage dialogue between everybody. Through these efforts, he hopes to change the mindset of people and break down the stereotypes associated with gender.
In LEAD, Sunil completed two projects, both in the field of agriculture and sustainability. The first was raising awareness of biogas, and the second for encouraging the use of bio-fertilizers. He went to every home in his village and educated them about the benefits of these sustainable energy sources. Additionally, he planted medicinal trees in his campus and is now working on adding signs depicting their scientific & common names, as well as information about the plants.
Sunil’s passion for sustainable agriculture is undeniable. He is more than aware that 70% of the Indian population depends on agriculture for income, but many who do the agricultural work are unaware of the subsidies available to them because the benefits (such as fresh research, innovative technology, etc.) are not reaching them. He wants to work with these people to help them realize all the possibilities that are available to them. Sunil’s doddappa (uncle), who is is his role model, always treated laborers well and worked with them compassionately. This sparked the same drive to work with and help, these people who are providing us with so much. He wants to also see more organic, sustainable farming in the future. He is starting first with implementing this approach in his village and is aiming to expand elsewhere afterward.
Sunil credits a great deal of his passion, commitment, network, and enthusiasm to the LEAD program, which he has come to know as “a platform for exposing our minds to the world.” His personal development flourished through his experiences with LEAD, and he is now more confident than ever to “find the problems, then find solutions for them”, and it’s clear that he is in a great position to empower other young people to believe the same.