Sumi Roy, a bubbling youngster from Guwahati, Assam is one of the newest sevaks of Chinmaya Mission. She was a member of the National Cadet Corps for over four years and later on joined the National Service Scheme for another six years, organising awareness and empowerment programs. She won the District Youth Award in 2007 and the State Youth Award in 2008. She is an inspiration to all. Here she is talking to us on how she found her true calling, Service. Where and how did your association with the Chinmaya Mission begin? When I was in college, my professor who was the secretary of the youth wing of the Mission (CHYK) asked me to take part in a play called ‘Surya 108’. Also, two of my friends who had done the Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) inspired me to join the course. These were my first associations with the Mission activities. Then I joined YEP and there was no turning back. When was it that you decided you wanted to serve the Mission full time? At the end of our Yuva Veer course, we were in a satsanga with Pujya Guruji. He asked whether any one of us would like to the join the Mission full time. Some people, including me, raised our hands and he wondered out loud how many of us would keep our promises. I had raised my hand on impulse, but I still had not made up my mind. Later on, when I went back to my centre – CORD Sidhbari – Kshama didi enquired about my plans after the service period. She is someone who deeply inspires me and she told me not to leave it there, but to continue serving the society in whatever way possible. And I realised in the depths of my heart that I could relate and identify with service as my passion. Hence, if I joined any corporate office, I would not be able to fulfill my desire to serve properly. I also found that it is one way of giving to society the knowledge I had gained. So I grabbed the opportunity and joined the Assam branch of Chinmaya Mission. To dedicate one’s life to service, one needs a role model or inspiration. Did you have any who inspired you to go the ‘other way’? Well, the first person who inspired me, instilled confidence and made me what I am today is my Guru – Swami Mitrananda. He came into my life when I was in search of guidance and showed me the way. I remember one incident that happened as we were nearing the conclusion of our course. I was being interviewed by Swamiji, and he asked me where I would like to be posted for serving. And my reply was that I wished to go back to Assam, to which Swamiji remarked that I should learn to step out of my comfort zone. This made me understand where I stood and where I have to reach if I have to achieve my heart’s desire. The other person who inspired me is Kshama didi. Mitranandaji had told me once that Kshama didi was a person who dedicated her entire life to serve the needy. She has been serving people for over 25 years now. He looked at me in the eye and said that he was looking for another ‘Kshama Metre!’ I don’t think I can reach the standards she has set, but this line will always inspire me to reach greater and greater heights. What is the need for such organisations like Chinmaya Mission (CM) today? Well, Chinmaya Mission is an organisation that awakens people to the glory of their own culture. It has empowered millions of all ages, from all walks of life to live a life of higher ideals. Such organisations keep people inspired and act as a guiding light in keeping this culture of ours alive. What do you do for the Assam Chinmaya Mission? My main work in Assam CM is administration. I also help in coordinating and organising yajnas and camps. I take value education classes for youngsters and kids, inspiring and motivating them to live a life of higher ideals. As a woman, did you find any difficulties when you were serving in Sidhbari? In YEP, Swamiji had put each person in the place which is right for that person. Serving at CORD is not easy. It requires passion and commitment. For example, you may have to walk across a hill to reach a village; you may be alone and there would be no houses. At first, such obstacles seemed to be difficult, but soon I was able to overcome all these minor obstacles. All you need is clarity on what you want and the willingness to take up the responsibility and be accountable. It doesn’t matter whether you are a boy or a girl – in the final tally, only your faith and your availability matters. How would you like to define YEP and how life has changed after YEP? YEP is a 3 month residential course based on dynamic living through study of the scriptures and thought-provoking activities to mould, the leaders of tomorrow. After the course, the Yuva Veers go out and serve the country for a year. This way they grow for life. It reaffirms the statement made by our Pujya Gurudev that the “Youth are not useless, but used less!” This is YEP in a nutshell. My life in Assam gave me limited exposure to the world, and deep down I aspired for something more. That is the main reason I joined YEP. And surely, after I joined YEP, my vision broadened and I became more receptive. In my opinion, YEP is a course that brings out the best in an individual and gives one a glimpse of what lies beyond his/her narrow vision. It guides the youth to think and live positive. For me, YEP has been my backbone. It has kept me straight on the path and given me the strength to overcome all obstacles. Before YEP I was really confused whether I should work for money or for satisfaction, but now things have changed. You have been here for the past fourteen days, how has this Sevaks’ Camp changed your outlook on the Mission? Till now I was involved in only one part of the Mission, but in this camp I got to see the whole picture. The different aspects of the Mission, its vastness and various activities which influence the lives of millions were seen. It is like having known a book by its cover. To understand the depth of the book, all its pages have to be explored and understood. Also, it was a great opportunity to meet people who have been associated with Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda and served the Mission for many years. I was able to learn from them as well as draw inspiration hearing their stories and experiences. Now I know that I took the right decision. What are the areas where you feel you can help the Mission? After attending the camp, I am sure I can help in areas such as CORD – rural development activities. We are already planning to conduct medical camps in rural schools, help in creating awareness of our books and publications. Also I may be able to coordinate the translation of certain books into Assamese with the help of the Devi group members there. So, how do you see your journey from here? Right now, I want to focus on doing what I have to do. I have not looked too far into the future. I only want to keep serving. I am CM, for life!