Ayana Shah – My Youth Media Experience Blog

Hi, I’m Ayana 🙂

This year, I was meant to be doing my GCSEs, the biggest exams of my life so far. You can probably imagine how surprised I was that they were cancelled because of coronavirus! So, with a free summer holiday and my passions for creative arts including music and literature I was excited and immediately took interest in this programme the Oshwal Community were offering to youths.

During our first meeting, Vice President Kaushikbhai Shah along with Ashish Patani welcomed us to the programme, and we were allowed to introduce ourselves and give our reasons for joining. My reasons included getting to know more people in the community (as there aren’t many Oshwals that I know in my area), helping youths connect to their culture and helping the older generation feel a sense of community during these unprecedented times. It was lovely to be able to meet the fellow youths as well as the adults who would be helping to guide us through the process.

In our first couple of sessions, we were introduced to the structure of the association including portfolio holders, chairpersons and area media reps. Having never learnt about this before, I found it amazing to see how many volunteers gave up their time to help support Oshwal UK and I think it’s important to expose this information and all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

Our first couple of tasks consisted of designing the social media posters and advertisements for the upcoming events, including exercise, cooking and yoga classes. It was so inspirational for me to be able to see what a great job the Oshwal UK team had been doing of keeping our community so busy and connected over this period. The posters that the team and I created for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, gave us an insight into what needed to be done to grab the community’s attention.

We concluded that the main objectives were:

  • To reduce the amount of information
  • To make key points stand out more clearly
  • To stick to a colour theme to encourage recognition of similar events
  • To customise certain posters for different social media platforms and different target audiences

Soon after these were posted, we started focusing on the rebranding of the website and logo. We were given a few opportunities to display our ideas in a presentation to Kaushikbhai and Malaben who were supportive, constructive and helpful as they brought up points that we hadn’t considered. As a group, we worked together to compile our ideas and bring our thoughts together so that we could be direct in our visions for the new website. I particularly liked sharing my thoughts on how we could improve the youth section of the website, to encourage younger people to get involved with the community.

One of the main changes we made to the website was the navigation bar. We had to think about which routes most users took on the website and then simplify the number of headings down to make it easier to use. We also wanted our community to start celebrating some achievements for example births, weddings and graduations. The logo was also a fun challenge as we wanted to keep part of the original logo, but change the font, colours and layout. In the end we decided to try and use the symbolism of colours to help justify out choices. We then matched the colours of the website to a new template.

We also came up with an acronym for “Oshwal” which would best represent the values we felt were key to our Oshwal. With the help and suggestions of Kaushikbhai, Ashish and the team, we managed to come up with: Optimistic, Spiritual, Heritage, Welfare, Accepting, Loving.

Being given the opportunity to have a voice and make a change to the actual website and logo felt invigorating and empowering. Having your opinion listened to and valued is important and I think with some of the ideas we’ve come up with, more people will be able to do this too. For example, we propose to create:

  • a space for young people where they’ll be able to express and share their feelings on certain current issues
  • a space for peers giving advice to each other on taking exams like GCSEs and A levels
  • a writing festival where people will be able to send in their entries and get a chance to have their posts published on the website

The team and I have tried launching these ideas by writing our own blogs on different subjects which will be posted on the website. I decided to write about “Results Day 2020” as I feel that many people will be able to relate to feelings of worry and uncertainty but may feel they are alone in these thoughts.

I would definitely like to get more involved with our community and help out as they do so much for each other. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work alongside Oshwals my age and help the team create and modernise the Oshwal brand.

I think and hope that with the new changes that we’ve helped to implement, the UK Oshwal Community (especially the youth) will feel more united, connected and proud of their new logo and brand.

Blog by Ayana Shah