You wait for a whole month to tell the world about something you achieved, then on the D-day you login to your twitter account and see that there are about 50 odd congratulations sent your way for achieving that, even before you could announce it. You achieved something the world was looking out for. That is a great feeling.
In my case that thing was, TED India Fellowship. I am one of the 103 extraordinary individuals who joins the TED fellows program at the TED India 2009 conference to be held in Nov at the Infosys campus, Mysore, India.
The TEDIndia Fellows are a diverse group of men and women, representing not only India, Pakistan and Bangladesh but also Indonesia, Canada, Tajikistan, the United States, China, Nigeria and Oman. TEDIndia Fellows include engineers, environmental scientists and pollution experts, human-rights activists, musicians, athletes and filmmakers. (From the conference press release)
Something extraordinary happened which catapulted me into the bandwagon of some of the most classy, intelligent, creative and dedicated people in the world, a group I always thought I don’t belong to. As I looked through the list of my fellow TED fellows I felt how insignificant my academic achievements are in comparison to them. I don’t have no foreign degrees or Phds, I didn’t go to Harvard, I am no IITian, IIMite or ISBite, I am no school topper, I never won a medal or a trophy for academics. I graduated out of ordinary school and college with medium grades.
Then what makes me special? Why do I deserve to be on TED? Somebody asked me on Twitter right after the fellows were announced, “@sanjukta what did you do ! like really…to get on there.“ I didn’t think it was a very polite question to ask but I politely replied, “Not sure, I guess I was just being me all my life and that got me this far”
If there is anything about me that I am proud of, it is my identity in all its imperfection and that’s what inspires people. This unconventional woman in an unconventional body doing unusual things yet living a simple life; there is nothing extraordinary about me except that I refuse to be ordinary at every turn of the road.
Few people I want to thank
I would have never thought of applying for TED on my own. I didn’t even know it was around the corner and that they were accepting the applications. I was nominated by Mohammad Tauheed a TED fellow himself and founder and Chief Editor of Archsociety.
I met Tauheed through blogs 4 years back. The initial connection was because he was from the country where my roots are, Bangladesh. Who would have thought our little virtual friendship would bring us this far, it is amazing how much we can connect over blogs and other social media and how deep can that relationship be. I didn’t think I had the potential to be a TED fellow but he kept insisting I apply. I owe this fellowship to him to a large part.
Some of the things I achieved in the last 4 years in the field of New and Social Media wouldn’t have been possible without the support of friend, Swagat Sen. Most importantly I wouldn’t have been able to do the Blogging Outreach workshop without his support. So thanks to him.
I also wanna thank Bill Thompson and Julian Siddle who kindly allowed me to use their names as references in the application.
Now what is the big deal?
TED is beyond doubt one of the greatest things that happened to me. It is the biggest feather on my tiny cap, a great recognition of my worth. Suddenly I am one of the elites, even as I continue to make my place in Indian blogsphere as somebody who fights elitism. On twitter I see elite tweeps now following me back, months after I started following them, perhaps because I got the fellowship, their first sign of approval. But I was special even without the fellowship, wasn’t I? This is why elitism is not good. This is why we should spend a moment to know the person knocking at our doors, there is something special in each one of us with or without an approval, one just have to look close and deep.
So did it come as a total surprise? Not really. It would be a lie, if I said, I didn’t already know there are reasons why I deserved the fellowship, its just that I didn’t know that they would be able to see those reasons. Turned out they did and that is why TED is the purest ensemble of the best minds with greatest ideas.
And now the Breakthrough
You have reached the end of this post but you are still wondering what does the word ‘Breakthrough’ in the title of this post stand for. You will find the answer in the next post, because I think this one is getting too long. As for the hints, its about my new job. I mentioned in the previous post that I am ready to move to Delhi but not before I find the right job, well Breakthrough is my new job :)