2011 Personal Statements – Gaining the Power to TransformApril 4, 2011
Gaining the Power to Transform
As the early morning light would wake her up, she knew it was the beginning of another day of struggle for survival. She would feed her children whatever little she had, and then leave them with her husband to go to work in the factory. She would return from work each evening more exhausted than the last, nauseated from breathing the powder that was left everywhere from the tablets produced at the factory. With the little money she earned, she supported her family. Her husband squandered his earnings, if any when he chose to work, on alcohol. As night would fall, she would take her children and her husband searching for a place on the roadside to shield themselves from rain and wind. This mother to three children cried hopelessly in the darkness, singing a dirge each night that no other living would care to hear.
She was my mother.
I was four when we got help from an ear that heard oppressed voices. This ear belonged to Dr. George, a philanthropist who founded Shanti Bhavan, a school and home for children from India’s most socially and economically disadvantaged communities. Mentor and father to two hundred other children like me, he has provided us a home, and a strong academic and moral foundation in the past 13 years. It is here at Shanti Bhavan that I have developed the strength and been given the opportunity to one day support my family, my community, and Shanti Bhavan itself. Learning alongside children from the same socioeconomic background has helped me realize that there are many others like me who wish to change the world for the better. It has also made me believe that a desire to improvethe world is not just being idealistic, but is instead within the practical reach of every one of us.
I have chosen to focus in the liberal arts, studying economics, history, and elective literature. I have also taken up learning Cello, a soothing and beautiful musical instrument through which I can express my emotions. I have set a goal for myself to contribute to thecommunity that continues to suffer. I hope to become an Indian Administrative Officer (IAS) in the government, a profession through which I hope to change my community. Through my work I aspire to give “hope” to those who have never had a chance or reason to associate themselves with the term. Through the IAS, I can work for the community I once belonged to and cried with. I hope that helping the less fortunate receive quality education and giving them reason to hope and persevere in the face of adversity will bringabout justice and equity in the country.
Another important goal of mine in life is to give back to Shanti Bhavan, an institution that has totally transformed my life for the better. From being a girl from the “scheduled caste” who did not know the taste of clean water, I have gained an ocean of knowledge that I hope to share with others. The confidence that my mentors at Shanti Bhavan have in me helps me realize why I have been given this opportunity. Seeing others at Shanti Bhavan and in my family waiting to see me proudly smile back at them, I take it upon myself to enrich my character at every possible opportunity in my life. The satisfaction my mentors get when they see me succeed is the same satisfaction that I hope to experience when I transform my own community.
Getting into college is my first step towards success and a life of service. I take my Board exams in the month of March to ensure entry to a top college. Successfully tackling the IAS exam later will be yet another challenging endeavor. But Shanti Bhavan has prepared me well for this challenge, and has taught me to “be the best I can be.” I have confidence that my strong determination will allow me to succeed.
Staring at the vast sea of possibilities, yet admiring the world that I once saw as betraying, I am ready to venture into my future. I have a challenging road ahead of me, but I clearly understand the importance of hard work. With little hope and no opportunity for the rest of my family, only my success will lift them from the shackles of poverty. There was a time when I would stretch my hands out, desperate for water. Now, these same hands, contoured by the values instilled in me over the past thirteen years, reach for opportunities. And it is the opportunity given by a good education that will help me make a better world.
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Meet the rest of the Shanti Bhavan Class of 2011.