Visali and Thulasi’s #countdowntocollege
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EPISODE 2/2 : THULASI
Hope you enjoyed our first episode on Visali.
Welcome to Thulasi’s story. As she is all set to start her new journey at College of Idaho, here are excerpts from her heartwarming speech at Seattle.
“I was four years old when we walked through the gates (of Shanti Bhavan) for the first time.”
During one of her many tailoring shifts, a client told my mother about Shanti Bhavan, a boarding school for children from poor families. Although hesitant to let her only daughter grow up far away from her, she brought me to the school, believing that Shanti Bhavan was my best chance to get a better life. I was four years old when we walked through the gates together for the first time.
“Shanti Bhavan became my second family.”
My first day at Shanti Bhavan was beyond anything I could dream of. I had friends my age that were just as eager as me to play on the swings, slides, and monkey bars. Shanti Bhavan was supporting families like ours by providing us safety, nutritious food, a thriving environment, and high-quality education. It gave me a chance for a better life, and the people that I met and grew up with in Shanti Bhavan became my second family.
“My teachers helped me understand that failure is a part of learning, and their belief in me inspired me to work harder.”
I was a mischievous child during my initial years at Shanti Bhavan. Luckily, our caretakers understood that I had good intentions, and they would patiently explain my errors, using gentle tones to discuss any problems and praising me when I showed I had learned from my mistakes. In middle school, I struggled for some time. My grades were not as good as I hoped they would be, despite my efforts to study well. My teachers helped me understand that failure is a part of learning, and their belief in me inspired me to work harder. By the time I got to high school, I was scoring above a 90 in all my subjects. I was learning to speak English, playing guitar, reading the news, studying Shakespeare, writing poetry, and participating in debates and public speaking competitions.
“When I was in the 8th grade, I received the opportunity to attend a two-week summer school in Japan.”
Our school has an international volunteer program, where people from all over the world can come to the campus to teach us economics, English literature, and more. Meeting so many people from backgrounds different from my own made me want to live in another country, to experience other cultures. When I was in the 8th grade, I received the opportunity to attend a two-week summer school in Japan. It was my first time on a plane. I met people from over 70 countries, and during camp we shared ideas about how we could create a positive impact on the world, together. I was inspired by these conversations with other young people, and I knew that I wanted to find more opportunities to learn from people of different backgrounds.
“They helped me apply for a three-year high school program in Japan and even helped me receive a full scholarship!”
When I returned to Shanti Bhavan, the administration encouraged my excitement to study abroad. They helped me apply for a three-year high school program in Japan and even helped me receive a full scholarship! Once I was accepted, they helped me get a passport and a visa, and prepared me for living in a new country, reminding me to take the values I was taught at Shanti Bhavan with me everywhere I went. Even though I was studying in a different school, I never stopped being a Shanti Bhavan kid.
“The College of Idaho!”
I grew more than I thought possible in my three years in Japan, and I am so excited to begin a new adventure in the US this fall. I will be attending The College of Idaho in just a few short weeks. Despite the challenges that my mother and I have faced, I am proud to have received a top-notch education and opportunities that I never imagined were possible.
“My motivation to succeed – My mom and Shanti Bhavan.”
My first motivation to succeed is taking care of my mom. My mom has sacrificed so much to ensure that I have a good future. I want to use the opportunities I have been given to help her live a good life. My other motivation is the people at Shanti Bhavan. The dorm caretakers, who wake up before anyone else and go to sleep long after we’ve gone to bed, have taken care of me like their own. The teachers have tirelessly prepared me for college. The staff took care of everything else, ensuring we had nutritious food and warm blankets and any other care we needed. Shanti Bhavan has made me feel like I have a place in the world and a voice of my own.
“It is my duty now to carry out Shanti Bhavan’s mission and help others.”
Imagine a world with no poverty, a safe environment for children, and fewer conflicts. This is the kind of world that people like you are helping me to create. I am excited for what the future holds and am appreciative for the time and effort that you have invested so that girls and boys like me can follow our dreams. It is my duty now to carry out Shanti Bhavan’s mission and help others.
YOU GO GIRL! WE ARE PROUD OF YOU AND THE WORLD NEEDS MORE WOMEN LIKE YOU!
Readers, are you with us to empower more children like Thulasi?