Parth’s and Sarina’s Story: Gaining Perspective and Bringing About Change
Kids are coming of age in a global culture that gives them greater access and insight to the world’s problems. For two New York teens, it was witnessing Pratham programs in action that gave them a new perspective.
Making a Connection
Sixteen-year-old Parth Patel had been to India many times to visit his grandparents. He already knew about the country’s illiteracy and poverty problems but had never made a personal connection to the issues or the people they affected. That all changed when he decided to take another trip to India—this time to intern for Pratham. There he met Indian kids his own age and discovered they were more like him than he had thought.
“Even though we came from really different backgrounds, we connected over which hobbies we liked and what subjects we enjoyed most at school,” explains Parth. “It helped me realize that [these kids] are just like me, except they’re born in a different place and into a different environment.”
Parth worked with Pratham for three weeks in and around Ahmedabad and Surat in Gujarat, supporting a variety of programs. His ability to speak Gujarati helped the teen communicate with the kids he encountered, who were just as curious about him as he was about them and “were asking a lot of questions […] like what people in the US eat and wear and who my favorite Hollywood actor is.”
Parth learned firsthand how Pratham’s education and vocational programs make a difference in the lives of the students, summarizing his experience in three words, “eye-opening, heartwarming and inspiring.” Read a full account of Parth’s internship.
Last winter, while Sarina Motwani and her mother were in Mumbai for the holidays, they visited several Pratham urban learning centers. Sarina was immediately taken with the differences between a Pratham class, where the children were clearly engaged with the teacher, and a government school, where many of the students seemed distracted.
Sarina’s experience motivated her to get involved. But what could a fourteen-year-old do? With her mother’s encouragement and a little help from the Pratham coordinator, she was able to use her passion for art to teach some of Mumbai’s underprivileged children how to draw.
Facing a class of 25 children ages 9-14, Sarina was very nervous. She shared some of her own artwork, then broke the class into groups so she could move around and guide them in drawing certain objects. The language barrier was less of an issue than she had expected. The older kids helped the younger ones understand what she was saying. “They were very welcoming, and even though my Hindi wasn’t great, they still listened to me.”
Sarina overcame her fears and engaged the class in drawing bicycles, paisley patterns, emojis, and—because they were excited about the holidays—Christmas trees. “I was impressed because some of the children had amazing drawing skills. But because they couldn’t afford all the art materials that I had, they couldn’t do anything about their talent.” Read more about Sarina’s visit to Pratham.
Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective to bring about change.
Parth’s internship has motivated him to plan for long-term change. He’ll be starting college soon and hopes to use his academic interests—business, engineering and sociology—to make a difference for those less fortunate than himself.
Sarina took action just days after her first Pratham visit. Her art class had an immediate impact on the children and on her self, who expects to do more volunteer work with Pratham in the future.
Learn more about how you can visit a Pratham program.