For me, to be even writing this essay is a privilege that I never thought of getting while growing up. In a small town in India, my family was close to destitution when my father stopped providing any kind of funds to support his home-maker wife and the four children. Growing up with retired maternal grandparents, the dinner would be cooked with the money that my mum would bring at the end of her long working hours.
That was a day and there is today. I am sitting on a comfortable chair in a foreign country with a MacBook being able to write English proficiently under a 24-hour running air-conditioner. What I have received is still a dream for numerous children around the world.
Our family would have never come out of poverty, if there was no third-party influence. This taught me to not take what I get for granted and, therefore, I am on a mission to change the world where dreams become a reality.
My role model is my mum, who even in such harsh situation chose professions like teaching in schools or riding her second-hand Indian scooter to remote villages over 30miles from our house to teach about family planning. This attitude of working for the society and giving back to the universe is what I aspire about her. I have been continuously trying to find methods where I can help the ones around me.
When I was in 11th grade, I made a promise to myself naively – whenever I would start earning, I would donate 10% of it. As a freshman, I was fortunate enough to get a job in the UWC Scholars Office. It got harder to save these 10% but I remained dedicated. I even missed my doctor’s appointment many times to remain positive towards the goal. At the end of the year, I saved about US $ 150. This might not be a huge amount here but when I took it back to India, it was very substantial. For the very first time, I could help others through my own earned resources. Also, I collected all the T-shirts that I received from OU as a freshman – over 30 – and took them to distribute as well. I prepared a bag with all the shirts that I had received and the 10% that I had saved.
Every morning, I would choose a random destination in my hometown and walk there. I would find people ranging from young to aged sleeping on the plastic bags on the roads shirtless. I found numerous people who needed help and that definitely needed clothes. I helped some to buy food and some to buy medicines or spectacles. This experience made me realize that service should be done in an organized manner otherwise I would keep discovering more and more people who require an outsider’s (third party) help. This is why I recently created a page called ‘Money spent right’ where I encourage people to save a percentage of their salary and share their stories on how they spent it anonymously so that others can be inspired by it. This whole community on Facebook who is joining will be willing to create a global change.
On a similar but different topic – I realized that another method of contributing to the society is by getting involved in research and pursuing a profession in academia. I spoke to Dr. Janet Allen and Farrokh Mistree and decided to get involved in her Systems Realization Laboratory under the mentorship of their PhD candidate, Anand Balu. Keeping my keen hobbies on the side,
On a similar but different topic – over the years, I have observed that there’s a variety of people who are very uninterested in Mathematics and Science. However, these are my favourite subjects and I find it hard to believe why people find are intimidated by them. Therefore, I have spent my free time trying to learn different software like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Blender, etc. so I can create a YouTube channel and try to explain the various concepts in a very practical method. For example, take a simple concept such as logarithms and explain it’s real world applications. By doing this, I am not just teaching the concepts but also trying to popularize the field.
I have also been fortunate enough to have 3 years of professional badminton training in Singapore and 4 years of training in High School because of which a lot of good badminton skills have been just handed to be by excellent coaches. There is a badminton club at OU that plays very frequently, however, I noticed that a lot of people have developed bad habits and are not confident about their footwork and techniques. This is why I proposed to initiate a badminton training session every Saturday so that I can help people of different levels to become better players. The training session should attract more members to the Club too.
Overall, along with working hard towards my studies, I have been trying my best to lead people to become happier by getting them to involve in service while I do the same thing.