This academic year, I’m on sabbatical for National Hindu Students Forum (UK) – otherwise known as Vistaar. Amongst the myriad of lessons I have learned, and continue to learn, one sticks out
– being adaptive.

How do you balance your intention with your environment? How do you manage your priorities with your host’s? How do you say ‘no’ to an invite because you have too much work to do?

The National Committee for NHSF is spread across the country, meaning frequent travelling and overnight stays at people’s houses. I’ve found it a steep learning curve when it comes to juggling responsibilities and tasks when it comes to NHSF projects, with spending time with host families. For example, I’ve just finished dinner with a family, and the intriguing conversation about ‘how we must bridge generational gaps’ evolves into the living room with a cup of chai, my phone rings – “Jaimal, are you ready for this conference call?!”

Time goes fast. The biggest lesson during Vistaar is of planning one’s time meticulously but leaving enough flexibility for new things to emerge. There is no straightforward answer to what I must do in a given situation. I have no “Vistaar for dummies” manual. It’s rather like dialectic – I’m continuously placed in interesting situations where I’ve to rationally work out what is the best use of my time – do I sip the chai with a family or join a conference call? Both have pros and cons. This can be tough, but I’m reminded of my main priority – that of connecting with people.

The people are crucial; people make organisations; people make communities; people do great things; people have stories to tell; people make my sabbatical enriching. With this slow but steady realisation, I invite you to also spend time engaging in a Vistaar activity of your choice.

By Jaimal Patel
Vice President & Vistaarak for NHSF

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