The stories she heard from her seniors in school motivated R. Pennarasi now 17, to participate in a Maharani camp three years ago.
Impressed with the first-phase camp and amazed by the changes that she saw in herself, Pennarasi completed all phases of the camp.
“I have heard the seniors at school speak highly of the camp activities, the friendly facilitators, the good experience and skills they gained. I wanted to find out what it was all about. I am glad I went to the camps as I truly enjoyed all the activities at the camp and saw positive changes in myself,” she said.
“I’m actually a very shy person and I don’t feel confident initiating communication with others. I prefer to keep to myself and I also had stage fear,” she said.
The camp activities include public speaking and presentation workshops conducted by experts, which helped Pennarasi and others like her.
“At first, I didn’t know that most of the girls had the same problem as I do. We were shy around each other and held back from talking or presenting but thanks to the motivation and guidance from the facilitators, we overcame our shyness, introduced ourselves and presented our ideas and work. Having others listen and clapp in appreciation when I made my presentation was something new to me. I must thank the camp facilitators for instilling the confidence in me,” she said.
Recalling her earlier school days, Pennarasi said she used to hate going to school.
“I was not interested in school. I was just an average student and being shy and quiet, I was always ignored by others. I also did not have any close friends in school,” she said.
But things improved after attending the Maharani camps, Pennarasi says.
“At the camps, I gradually overcame my fears. The most important lesson that I learned from the camps was that nothing is impossible, and I must be independent,” she said.
“Since then, I started to speak up more, engage in conversations and even greet schoolmates whom I was too shy to talk to before. I also started building better relationships with teachers in school,” she said adding that her teachers are now her biggest motivator to study and participate in school activities.
Having gained more confidence in herself, Pennarasi decided to participate in a debate competition two years after attending the Maharani camps.
“I think my biggest achievement to date after attending the Maharani camps was winning second place in a debate competition last year. The victory means so much to me because I have come a long way. I am now confident about public speaking and I have managed to overcome my stage fright,” Pennarasi said.
Pennarasi who dreams of becoming a lecturer said she wants to teach younger people and be able to motivate them.
“Just like how facilitators at the Maharani camps taught and motivated me, I want to motivate others to achieve their dreams too. I also want to be a good example and a role model to my younger siblings,” she said.
Pennarasi who plans to further her studies soon said she would encourage others to join the Maharani programme to be a better student and person.