– Debamitra Mishra
The fondest childhood memories are preserved in the stories we listen from our mother and grandparents. As time passes, the realization hits at several stages of life how lessons and learnings hidden in stories have shaped our personality and governed our actions. Bringing storytelling as a collective approach to all age groups in the city, the Bhubaneswar-based storyteller Kapila Nagpal who is also an educator and happiness coach enlightens us in this exclusive conversation about the invaluable influence of stories in society building.
How is the journey from Hindustan Times to now a storyteller, educator, and happiness coach escalated?
After the completion of my MBA, I joined Hindustan Times with its brand marketing and promotion in the field of education only. We used to collect the reports and information from the educators, then edit and send them to the departments.
It’s been 16-17 years of my marriage and my years in Bhubaneswar. Since I started my career in training only, I was giving pre-placement training for various engineering and MBA college students. That included Group discussions, personality grooming, and presentation skills. I have conducted some similar sessions at corporates as well, but colleges and educational institutions have been a major focus.
How has your previous career experience helped you in the current domain?
I have always been a very keen learner. I am very thankful to the authorities at my previous job who gave me this opportunity to learn many things. That gave me a lot of exposure to various domains. Those experiences have added up to my knowledge, writing, and communication skills. That was the kind of practical exposure I got while working there. I would sit and observe people working on different creative activities for 8-9 hours and try to learn from them.
All those experiences combined helped me in Bhubaneswar when I started as a happiness coach, educator, and storyteller for children and college students. I never promoted my initiative. I believe the quality spoke and people loved to reach out to me. And I feel blessed because this purpose is a noble purpose to me. I find this experience equally blissful as meditation.
After Delhi, what challenges did you face while starting in Bhubaneswar?
In Bhubaneswar initially, I was more oriented to pick up a full-time job. I worked with an English tabloid here. That gave me a lot of networking in the city. After that, I joined a few corporates as well. For me, it was necessary to understand the culture of a place as the first thing before I started my venture. After a point of time, I found my heart in training. Of course, culture played a major factor. But I always believe in work and experiment on myself first. My friends suggested that if you don’t see an opportunity somewhere you want, then be the one to create it.
I started making a niche for myself by doing some mini-events in Bhubaneswar through the tabloid I was working for, and people used to enjoy it. That helped me to understand people’s acceptance, honesty, accessibility, and the market approach. Gradually, I went with the pace of the people I was dealing with.
You are quite a popular storyteller among all age groups now. Tell us how this journey started.
My journey as a storyteller is a very beautiful story I would say. Since I believe in reading aloud concepts, when my kids were born I started that with them. Then gradually while they were growing up, some of their classmates used to join me every Friday.
Storytelling is very close to my heart because I started this with my children. And I consider every child as my own. I believe what I replicate to my child I should replicate it to other children as well. The motherly affection, the teaching & learning all came together in my storytelling journey. When you share something with the world with a positive approach and genuineness, that reaches the people. With that start, I went on with Storytelling and I have no clue how it became a passion-turned-profession.
How does storytelling help in personality and skill development? Does it work differently for every individual?
From a teaching perspective, with different age groups, you have to choose the stories wisely, what you want to teach, and what is the purpose. The tone, content, approach, etc everything has to be different as per the age groups. It does magic to a toddler depending on what he wants to learn, to a teenager on what he wants to receive, and to an adult on what deliverables they expect. Even if you see ad films, those are stories only that are registered in your mind influencing your purchasing decisions. It solely depends on one’s purpose of what he wants from a story.
Storytelling enhances language skills. In whichever language one is narrating a story, that will have a better pickup with that language.
Tell us about your work and experience while working with children with autism, down syndrome, and dyslexia.
Storytelling is a technique that enhances the imagination of children with autism, down syndrome, or dyslexia. When I enact and involve them in the storytelling process, they respond very well. When they are very much engrossed in the story, they start imagining. Then whatever activity we tell them to do, they do with a little help. It impacts their overall skill development beautifully.
In some of my experiences, I have specially prepared myself for children with minor autism and dyslexia. And that was not limited to storytelling only but various other learning tasks. It’s not a curriculum to follow, it is all about learning. I would say, with a little bit of special attention and patience, they learn well.
What is MK Fouundation about? What do you envision with this organization of yours?
With my newly-found organization “MK FOUUNDATION”, I would say it started when my husband expressed post his father’s demise that he wants to open an organization in his name. But the concept wasn’t clear. But lately, I registered and got a few projects where I started teaching, training, and conducting workshops for schools, colleges, corporates, etc. This includes my passion for storytelling as well. I will be focusing on the English language only
I am also focusing on teaching underprivileged kids. Some children appear at my center too. I teach them English free of cost. In my long-term plan, I wish to teach the English language to those who cannot afford to pay for classes. I am also planning to reach out to more people with volunteers from Kalinga Literary Festival shortly. So that is what is in the present. I am planning to shape the purpose with more voluntary assistance from different independent organizations as well.
What is your role in “Nimantran Jewellers”?
“Nimantran Jewellers” has been founded by my husband Mr. Tushar Hans. It initially dealt with silver, but gradually we started taking orders in gold and diamond. I make sure whatever variety we choose should be a trendy one. I connect to the customer’s choice of taste very much here.
I put myself into the customer’s shoes first and think about what they would like in the designs and the prices. Be it gifting parts or jewelry, I take care of the product range in Nimantran according to the customers’ tastes. Anything one names it, we have it or we source or customize for them. That is the touch we have with people that brings them back to us.