Last month, I facilitated the Harappa Education course on Establishing Trust at the Naropa Fellowship, a year-long entrepreneurship program focused on creating sustainable opportunities for the Himalayan region. The program enables Fellows to build ventures that spur economic development while preserving the local culture, heritage and ecology. 

Cradled between snowcapped mountains and the serene Indus River, the beautiful Naropa Fellowship makeshift campus has a traditional Ladakhi façade. The picturesque landscape is breathtaking (sometimes quite literally). While I went from 42 degrees in New Delhi to 4 degrees in Leh, the heartfelt warmth of the locals and, of course, the students kept me warm. 

As the first ever group to take a Harappa Education course, I was looking forward to seeing what the Fellows thought of it. The course on Establishing Trust was a perfect fit for them because it explores ways to build trust with people, which is extremely important for those interested in entrepreneurship. 

Their response was encouraging. Almost all of them were instantly hooked to the four factors of The Trust Equation. Many of them said it helped them articulate their thoughts better and made it possible for them to objectively evaluate the reasons for the lack of trust in a relationship.

This learning was reiterated through the offline activities that I conducted with the Fellows to help them contextualize the concepts they had learned, and apply them to real-life situations. One of the activities was to create the Trust Mapa tool that helps you plot the levels of trust you have with the people you closely work with. Each Fellow ranked and assigned scores to all the people on their map, and then diagnosed the reasons they didn’t trust the person who they ranked the lowest. They also discussed ways in which they could share candid feedback with them to repair or rebuild trust. This was clearly an insightful exercise for the cohort. Several of them were glad to have figured out tangible steps to repair or rebuild trust.

The two days I spent at the Naropa Fellowship were illuminating. I was surprised by the tenacity of the locals to survive in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. I was touched by the Fellows’ determination to bring about a positive change in the Himalayan region. But what I was truly moved by was the ability of everyone in the region to revel in the little joys and privileges that we often tend to forget or take for granted in the large metropolises. 

While I was there to help Fellows learn about trust, I came back having learned a great deal about being grateful for what I have. Thank you, Naropa Fellowship!

Sanjay Deshpande is a Young India Fellow and worked at the NASSCOM Foundation. A curriculum specialist at Harappa Education, his collection of printed shirts elicits collective envy. Dancing and trying out new restaurants keeps him going.

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