“I am Beautiful”

That’s a wrap! Here are some of the highlights from the last week:

Learning a few songs!

Learning a few songs!

We went over the message of the “I am Woman” song by Helen Reddy again. When I asked them what the song hoped to convey, all of them screamed “woman is strong!” Then, we went over another song called “I am beautiful” by the talented Christina Aguilera. This song speaks to how one is beautiful regardless of what everyone else thinks. She sings that words shouldn’t bring anyone down, and being strong will allow one to withstand any hurt. I found the song empowering and the kids loved this song as well! That they were understanding the messages was wonderful. We emphasized if all of them wanted to become doctors, teachers or dancers, they need to be strong and remember that they are capable of beating all odds.  

Teaching them the songs. Here, I'm with Ms. Vanaja

Teaching them the songs. Here, I’m with Ms. Vanaja.

At another session, I gave them English -Kannada dictionaries. The moment I gave it to them, I saw their eyes light up! All of them knew how to use a dictionary, but had never had any of their own. If they are reading something, and they don’t know the meaning, all they have to do is look it up. I gave it to them, hopeful this will be one way of empowering them long after they graduate from the school and start their own journeys. All the kids are curious and bright, and with this tool, they will be able to grasp even more English. Knowing English can help them get a job, converse with others (India is the second largest English speaking country in the world), and be financially independent. 

Hopefully through letters and phone calls, the kids and I will keep in touch. I’ve seen the kids open up so much during the past three weeks. I am hopeful of  bright future for each of them. Yesterday, I had a meeting with Ms. Sumedha, of Whitefield Rising, to discuss the sustainability of the project. In the next few weeks, Whitefield Rising, a volunteer organization that works closely with schools in the area, will establish a support system for these girls with other NGOs, doctors, and law enforcement. At the grassroots level, inviting professionals like Sinu Joseph who helped me with the project, will get the kids to open up even more. In the end, these girls will have the opportunity to choose a life they want to lead — that is true empowerment. 

The kids showing me their  dance for India's upcoming Republic Day.

The kids showing me their dance for India’s upcoming Republic Day.

Thanks once again to Macalester IGC for this wonderful opportunity! I’ve learned so much from this short project and can’t wait to come back again to do more with these wonderful kids. Now, off to the US for another busy semester! 

— Shruthi

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