Introduction: Greetings to you all from the United States of America. Its truly an auspicious opportunity to be one of the fortunate ZSPs to witness the 50th year of our existence. Although I could not make myself available to celebrate the joyful celebration of our Sangnaupang Pawlpi, my spirit is exceedingly joyful as I write this article. To God be the glory in the highest!
As a Students’ Organization, we all have different levels of ages, classes, intelligences, talents, interests and potentialities. Some of us are in the Kindergarten Standard, whereas some are at the post-doctoral levels, yet we still are all under the dignified Zomi Sangnaupang Pawlpi. (Old version, I could not stop loving it) There is no question about it! It is the responsibility of the higher levels to train the lower levels in the way they should go, so that by the time they embark the higher levels “they will not turn from it.” (Pro. 22: 6) Quite a good number of us, the Zomi Sangnaupang Pawlpi, might be a little or not even aware of the fact that we live in an age in which smartness and inclusive approach to our fellow beings and the environment are becoming an essential part of our lives, in addition to our daily job that puts food on the table of our family. Therefore, finishing School, College or University is not the end, but just an eye opener to the world or transformation which will eventually lead us to individual, family and community transformation. It is not a can opener to the world of alcoholism which will eventually lead us to individual, family and community chaos and destruction.
Retrospection: As we retrospect our history, we have accomplished quite a good and satisfactory missions to have come to this stage of our Pawlpi, yet we still have a good number of challenges ahead as we embarked the new millennium. The glorious history of our Pawlpi is clearly visible and comprehensible with the production of the “Lel aw, Lel aw” motion album. As I contemplate on the album, I could see the selfless sacrifices and devotion of our progenitors towards our Pawlpi. To add to this testimony, my parents told me that the ZSP of their generation was quite glorious and functionally progressive. The ZSP dramas, artists, poets, magazines, functions, etc. were so awesome to have taken place during their generation. As I went deeper to that generation, I could, however, see that we have gotten to functions and celebrations then and now, rather than laying a master-plan and giving a better ZSP to the next generation. It’s time to resolute our time and energy to Better ZSP to the next generation.
I don’t have any hesitation to say that the Zomi Sangnaupang Pawlpi is the back-bone of our community; or as the proverb says, “Students of today are the pillars of tomorrow.” Thus, we are the pillars of our community’s tomorrow. So, how do we prepare ourselves to shoulder these responsibilities tomorrow? Do we prepare ourselves to give a better opportunity to our community’s tomorrow and eventually realize the dream of our community?
The Educational Impact of the Gospel: Let’s go back to a couple of decades and see what our progenitors’ educational system looked like. Their education and occupation were confined to agriculture and its allied occupations. It’s undeniable that almost everything was agro-based. Young folks were trained for the same occupation.
Rochunga Pudaite, in his book entitled “The Education of the Hmar People” has observed, “He learns to share, to play, to co-operate and to conduct himself before he is called upon to shoulder public responsibility. He cannot be selfish in such a family setup, and corporate life of the most congenial type is cultivated. From sunrise to sundown he is surrounded by educational activities and processes.”(1)
“The girls received training for one purpose, to become wife and mother. The very little girl had to learn to cook and help her mother. In her own home, she took part in all the other household tasks and learned to sew, knit, spin, weave, husk grain, prepare food, sweep and clean the house, and take care of the younger children so that, by the time she reached marriageable age, she was fully equipped with skills to handle a household of her own”(2) says T. Liankhohau, in his book entitled “Social Cultural Economic and Religious Life of a Transformed Community.”
Their only educational institutions were their homes and the Ham (Bachelors’ dormitory) where the young men of the village gather and learn the contemporary arts of war and life. Their first education begins at home. Once he passed a certain age limit, he then moves to the Ham where the older adults (Val-upa) trained them theoretically and practically. They were given all basic arts of war and how to handle issues facing their contemporary locality. It was not just a dormitory, but rather a barrack where every young folks volunteered themselves for the defense of their locality. They were soldiers or volunteers of their locality because there were unprecedented attacks and battles among different localities and people.
Transitional Era in Education: In course of time, the weave of the Gospel hit our land and impacted entirely in terms of our social, economic, political and religious practices. The Gospel bearers brought the Gospel with their culture. They might not essentially impart their culture but, we received their culture in addition to the Gospel. Eventually, the Western culture set a deep root in our land. The weave of the Gospel swept our land and saw a seed of Western socio-cultural practices. A new system of education, literature, social values, economy, politics and religion have been set up. We just began to have Primary, Secondary and Tertiary occupations with the impact of the Gospel. Pu Thawngpau has rightly put:
“Pisei pusei lungmawlte’n ana theiphah lou;
Mallam huikhi hing laang in, aban banin hing seem in.
Tu’n ei khangthate lai a, paa namtui bangin,
Ahing zelta lailung sunga.
Bang paa namtui adiei, Mallam huikhi’n ahing sem?
Bethlehem bawnginn paa namtui ahi.
Khum pa namtui luttheina di’n na sinlai dawngkot nahon le,
Na mawna puonbang sawpsieng diing.” (3)
“Unknown to the uncivilized progenitors;
The Northern breeze came along, and blows one after another.
Like a sweet aroma to the new generation of ours,
It has impacted the core of the heart.
What a sweet aroma, the Northern breeze has blown?
It’s the sweet aroma of the Bethlehem’s manger.
If you open the door of the core of your heart to let the sweet aroma in,
Your sins will be washed away.”
Education and Transformation: At the first glance, we may be quite puzzled by the fact that education and transformation are distinct and different substances/elements which cannot be connoted to each other. In fact, they are like the two sides of the same coin given the fact that the ultimate aim of education is to exert and transform the inherent potential of a person to make the person’s life worthy and compatible to the contemporary world. There is a misconception in our Zogam that education is just literacy which can only be earned at schools and institutions with some sort of residential phenomenon. Well, that is a part of the vast educational processes because learning begins at home and ends at the grave. We are all students of the big school – students of life.
I guess, it is undeniable to every student that we go to school to get education – to change our outlooks, earnings and lives to make a difference and make ourselves compatible to the contemporary world. We go to school and invested a lot of money, time and energy in the hope of getting transformation and in the hope of getting a good return of investment (ROI). I do not see the need to go to school and pay an enormous amount of money, time and energy if we do not want to be transformed by what we are going to study. Therefore, We ought to be transformed by what we learn at school. This is the essence of education.
Education Transforms our Outlook: Firstly, our outlooks must be transformed by our education. The “flat world” must be changed to the “round world;” “the sun revolving around the earth” must be changed to “the earth revolving around the sun along a fixed path.” We have to be transformed to acknowledge that there are lots and lots of villages, towns and cities beyond “Kangpokpi” or “Phaipi” !!! In addition to these perceptions, our education must open our eyes and minds to accept globalization – different nations, countries, cultures, religions, etc. under a common roof as Tagore puts, “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.”(4) This notion of division is visible and quite comprehensible in our Zogam where we can not keep ourselves from saying “Nou pawl, kou pawl.” We have to broaden our outlooks to accept our fellow beings and the environment we live in as they are.
The most profound impact that education should have in us is or personality. To be precise, we have been brought up from different families in terms of administration, discipline, eating and drinking habits, etc., but, we are under one tradition in the school. Our native or inborn traditions (instinctive or subconscious) should be humbled by the new traditions we learn at the school which should eventually transform our personality in the long run. A new outlook, new understanding, new horizon, etc. should be learned from the school. Moreover, being a transformed personality, we ought to keep ourselves opened to new ideas and cultures that are quite hard and rough at the beginning. I, too, have gone through some of the hardest path of accepting friends who are quite different in everything comparing to my friends back home. They called “Cultural shock.” But, this cultural shock eventually disappeared and I could get used to it.
Education Transforms our Earning Potential: At the first glance, this might seemed very commercial, but our education must transform our earning. To be true to our conscience, we have been sent to schools to get a good grade, to pass exams and eventually to increase our earning potential by getting a good job. Most of our parents and a lot more graduates could not see a job beyond Government jobs. Education in our land is conceived by many as a garment of social fame and social status, but seldom as an agent of transformation. Education speaks a lot, but the value and the way we acquire is often obscure. We put every tactical efforts to get a degree, a certificate or a diploma, but seldom buys them with our energy, time and right effort. The ultimate goals of education became so hard to fathom that it sometimes become a fragrance of decorating the image of a person. It became a gate pass ticket to the world of intellectual platform where the Utopian intellectuals voices out “No degree; no voice.” Therefore, one has to earn or acquire (shall I say procure?) a degree by whatever form or means it may be, to share an idea and get the audience and the members’ attention. Thus, educational degrees became so cheap, the yield so barren, and the strength so volatile or vulnerable.
This creates unemployment problem in our land. The ratio of job creation and that of job seeker is unequal and this phenomenon is going to get wider each year. Therefore, it is time we focus on the other side of the aisle and increase our earning potential by creating our own earning environment. Most of the world’s richest people did not spring from the Govt. services, but from the entrepreneurs, capitalists and investors. Neither Bill Gates nor Mukesh Ambani is a Govt. employee. I am not saying that Govt. job is bad, but it is time to focus on the other side of the aisle. Success in the field of education is measured by return of investment (ROI). A lot of money has been invested toward your education, and a lot more (with the interest) is expected of our education.
Education Transforms our Financial Management: We must manage our earnings properly and effectively. This is one of the greatest and most common pitfall of our educated and richest persons. We did get a lot of money from different sources and accumulated quite a lot of wealth, but failed to manage them properly. Therefore, we could not hold or manage our wealth for just a generation. Civilized people, nations and countries could manage their wealth for generations without loosing their capital, but rather increasing their assets and interests. A wealthy and respected person of our community a decade ago or just a couple of years ago is now begging for his daily meal. Financial management is as important as our learning and earning because it can turn our potential and legacy upside down.
Case One: Your financial management skill is more important than your earning skills. Rich people get richer because they can multiply their assets, thereby increasing their interest and wealth. They always turn their salaries into income generating assets and spend from the income or interest of their assets. This is the secret of their wealth. Their successors even became richer in the next generation because they trained them well, and thus, the wealth accumulation, management and expansion of their business or wealth has been selective and hence, effective.
Case Two: A good many people earned, but could not live with their earnings. They failed to differentiate between their needs and wants and spent their earnings on luxurious items and end up their hard-earned money without any significance. One very common practice of our Govt. service beginners and successful businessmen is that they thought they have clinched and settled there, and wanted to seek pleasure by getting themselves indulged in drinking, smoking, intoxicating, etc. thereby deteriorating their health and wealth which eventually ruins their family, wealth and takes their lives. A story was told in Zogam: There was a young man who plowed a field the whole four-month season and got a substantial amount of money from his boss. He spent all his hard-earned money in just a single day with his girl-friend because he bought everything his girlfriend wanted. Therefore, he spent all the money he earned in four month in just a single day!!! The same drama occurs quite a lot of times among us.
Case Three: Another interesting account when we come to financial management in Zogam is that some people do not want to lose money in any form or way. They accumulate wealth as much as they can, but never give away. They are interested only in themselves and turned a deft ear to the world outside. They ignored the needs and interests of others and failed to recognize that there is greater joy in giving than receiving. This type of people are greedy people who wants to kill the hen that laid golden eggs instead of being satisfied with the eggs. Greed imprisoned them and they spend their lives looking only for their benefits. (We don’t like’em. Do we?)
Education Transforms our Lives: As we said earlier, the ultimate aim of education is to exert the maximum potential of a person to make the person’s life worthy and compatible to the contemporary world, we ought to understand what the Lord Jesus Christ said. He says, “I came here not to be served, but to serve.” (Mat. 20:28) Prof. S. Pau Khan En, PhD writes, “From time immemorial, the world had seen so many educated people but only a few people did serve others and the world. Many educated people were bound by their own ego or self and they spent their education for their own good and left the world without any legacy.”(5)
The best and noblest way to touch people and the world is to dedicate ourselves in the service of others in our own capacities. A good number of educated people have lived and died without leaving any legacy. Think of a noble man or woman who touched the world and left a good legacy, you would probably think of M.K. Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln or Mother Teresa. Well, their names popped up because they have lived and served the world and humanity. Do you want to be one among them and leave a good legacy after you finish your earthly journey? The choice is yours!
Two Types of Learners: There are two types of learners when we talk about education and transformation. They are functional and nonfunctional types, and can be seen by their action. They both get the same amount of education and training – completing their course so studies. However, their fundamental differences is in the application of their studies to their lives. The first type is proactive and knows what to change, whereas the second type is retroactive and knows how to change. The first type introduces new ideas and the second type works on the newly introduced ideas. So, which type are you?
Functional Type: This types of students and graduates are open to new ideas and could make use of their learning in an affirmative and functional way. Since they are transformed by their educational processes, they can mobilize their knowledge and skills to enhance their lives and earning potential. Moreover, they acknowledged that their material and intellectual wealth are temporal and hence utilizes them to the service of humankind. They can invest their material and intellectual wealth no matter how small or insignificant it may be, for a common good.
Nonfunctional Type: This type of students and graduates include MA,BF (Matric appeared, but failed. A humorous abbreviation actually!!!), BA, MA or even Doctorates, but could not turn their education into their earning advantage – not much ROI. They could not mobilize their learning to make a living and be transformed by what they have learned. They assumed they have learned a lot and thought they knew everything, but their behavior never reflect their titles or educational degrees. They often underestimate their friends and want to impose their irrational ideologies every time and everywhere.
Vision Beyond Our Next Meal: Often times, the farthest horizon that our biological eyes could see tended to be farther than what our mind’s eye (vision) could see. Thus, we could not see anything farther then the next ZSP conferences; and even as we behold back, we could not see farther then the last conference. This is so sad.
Our vision must stretch beyond our next meal, so also our preparation. Likewise, students of today shall not only focus on our next or annual examination, but we ought to focus beyond our next or annual examination. We ought to exercise our mind’s eye to see what our biological eyes could not see and be clear with what lies ahead of us at a distance of 5 years, 10, 15, 20 years and so on. We must prepare ourselves to face those challenges that lies ahead with boldness: The clearer we see, the better we prepare; the better we prepare, the better we begin. Ultimately, well began is half done. A lot of students did not begin well and eventually ends up somewhere half-way empty. This is one of the first obstacles of a student.
Conclusion: I am confident that the Lord of Ages will be with us through ZSP Centenary celebration if we do not lose faith and abides by his commandments. We have accomplished quite a good number of missions and still have a lot of challenges ahead of us as we embarked the new millennium. Accomplishments includes our glorious past heritages, and challenges includes our missions and master-plans that we have set out and will set out from time to time. Human resource is our greatest asset and education is the greatest weapon and the key to accomplish these short-term and long-term goals. We ought to be transformed by what we have learned at schools and vocational institutions. Our outlooks and lives should be transformed by the enormous amount of money we have invested to get the education of its best kind. Let us join our hands and minds to re-building the fallen walls of our Zogam. Let us accomplish our goals with the Lord, as our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
(1) PUDAITE, Rochunga, The Education of the Hmar People. Sielmat, Churachandpur, Manipur: The Indo-Burma Pioneer Mission, 1963
(2) LIANKHOHAU, T., Social Cultural Economic and Religious Life of a Transformed Community. Mittal Publications, New Delhi, India: 1994
(3) Thawngpao, (Citation needed)
(4) http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/177.html Accessed on June 29, 2008
(5) Pau Khan En, Prof. S., “The Ultimate Goal of Learning,” Gamngai BEMS Jubilee. Gamngai, 2005