ExCEL stands for Excelling in Careers, Exams and Lifestyles. Workshops are based on Careers, Exams and Lifestyle for Sai Youth.

The Sai Youth of the world have taken Swami's message "to be like lions!" to heart and sought to use all of their faculties to achieve a lasting positive change in the world. In many countries talented, well educated Sai youth have balanced successful careers and outstanding academic achievement with spirituality and active involvement in the youth wing. Yet there is a preconception amongst many young people that you cannot balance the time pressures of studies or careers or a fun filled lifestyle with Sai Activities in the Youth wing or even in the Sai Centre.

It is very easy for youth to stop participating in Sai activities when competing pressures for their time come to bear, or when they move away to University. This is particularly true when they fail to see role models who show that a Sai oriented lifestyle is both fun and rewarding. To address some of these concerns and to inspire a new generation of young adults, the Youth Wing decided to hold a National Seminar that would bring all youth together in the UK.

Why hold a careers day?

The format of the National Youth Satsang was initially a careers day. To many this was a surprising choice of format and questions were asked: Why hold a careers day when such events are held at school or university? The government provides a comprehensive careers service, what more can the Sai Youth add?

To us the answer was simple. The power of Our Lord Sai. Never before in the UK had we seen a careers day that was conceived and imbibed with the spiritual teachings of Swami in mind. Every aspect of the day was related back to Swami's teachings and a pathway was illuminated for the youth to follow a Sai-oriented lifestyle and achieve worldly and spiritual success in their lives.

Components of ExCEL

In fact the day was much broader than a mere careers day. ExCEL stands for Excelling in Careers, Exams and Life! Swami has asked the youth to excel in everything that they do and so our purpose seemed much broader than just careers.

The day was targeted at both those who were still in education and those youth who were in employment or looking for a job. A road show promoting the day was produced and rolled out across centres to attract youth to attend the event.

Participants were asked to register in advance and provide some indication of their likely career aspirations. The programme and advisors was tailored accordingly. Over 150 participants attended this inaugural event.

Youth registration upon arrival at the Satsang

Personal experiences from a Sai Youth Careers Advisor

To commence the proceedings we had an inspirational keynote speech from a Sai Youth in Scotland who had overcome her severe dyslexia with Swami's grace to find her true calling in life - as a careers advisor! She told how she struggled through her studies despite severe learning disabilities through the power of prayer alone. She uplifted the participants with her heartfelt speech and was on hand throughout the day to provide professional and detailed guidance to delegates in their own search for their calling.

Job clinics

After being warmed up by the opening speech the delegates had the chance to attend a variety of drop-in clinics for a range of professions. The purpose of the clinics was to provide a chance for one-on-one discussions with successful Sai Devotees who had not only achieved success in their professions but done this at the same time as being active Sai Devotees. Sai Youth and Adults acted as advisors in a vast range of professions including accounting, banking, computing, media, medicine, sciences, engineering, government jobs, teaching, law, architecture, commerce and more. Within each of these categories various other specialist sub-disciplines such as stock broking or tax advisory were catered for.

The delegates were given the opportunity to ask the advisors (1) how they got into their profession (2) the academic, personality trait and work experience requirements for their jobs (3) tips on good next steps in delegates careers such as which college or which course to study (4) what the possible salary scales would be in the career and (5) what sources of further information on the careers would be of use.

During the lunch intermission a specially prepared youth exhibition of Swami's teachings was made available. Once lunch had finished three special workshops were made available.

Study Skills Workshop

Successful Sai Students prepared a one hour workshop that covered a range of issues affecting the modern Sai Youth. Topics covered included -

  • Different academic paths that students could follow through the complex maze of exams and qualifications that were on offer.
  • How to be an effective student revision tips and learning advice.
  • Advice on the character of an effective student to focus on studies and not be distracted by relationships with the opposite sex at such a young age.

The aim of the workshop was to raise the sights of the youth and imbibe within them a sense of self belief. All of the practical recommendations that were given were related back to the pervasive and eminently practical teachings of Swami.

Job Skills Workshop

Another workshop was focussed on the needs of Sai Youth in jobs and those seeking jobs. The content of the session focussed on:

  • How to conduct a self evaluation of who you are and what you can do and what job you would like to do
  • How to prepare an effective CV and excel in interviews
  • How to excel in your job

Youth attending a job skills workshop

Each of these was related to the 4D's. It was put to the delegates that you cannot excel in your career without human values. Your employer is evaluating what kind of person you are all the time hence your character is key. You cannot get a job unless your interviewer likes you why should they like you? They will like you if they respect the kind of person you are. Employers want employees who show character - Discipline to get the job done, Duty to their employer, Devotion to the task, and Discrimination or good judgement in carrying out their tasks effectively. Hence live good values, and you will excel in your career.

Work Life Balance Workshop

The final workshop was compulsory for all delegates. This focussed on imparting guidance on time management, life management, effective control of diet and how we should behave and deal with stress. The session had many interactive features examining the nature of our monkey mind, the fact we are driven to distraction and how this is made worse by the choices we make about the way we live, eat and spend our time. Do not waste time, or energy, do not eat meat and you will excel in life.

How did it help the youth?

The delegates were given a varied programme which raise their career, exam and life aspirations. They left the day invigorated and with a stronger sense of who they wanted to be. They saw youth that had achieved great academic success, had achieved great career success and were very active Sai Youth. Each of the speakers had related their first hand experiences with Swami in their daily lives and how they felt they owed all their success to Him. The positive vibration from the day was echoed from parents and devotees alike who attended or had a family member that attended.

Thank you Swami for giving this opportunity to serve.
Jai Sai Ram