Each July, Shanti Bhavan has the opportunity to send one of our children to UWC ISAK Japan’s Summer School in Karuizawa, Japan. During the two-week summer program, the child is immersed in an international setting with same-aged peers from around the globe. The summer school students work together in groups to come up with creative solutions to real-world problems. In the past, some cohorts have addressed the issue of tracking students on campus or reducing food waste in a community. Through this problem-solving collaboration, the children strengthen their teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, the kids have a chance to participate in traditional Japanese events like visiting a Dragon Festival and trying a customary ramen dish with miso broth. The children enjoy many once-in-a-lifetime experiences: first passport, first time on an airplane, first in their family to leave the country, first time having sushi—the list is endless.

In 2023, we were fortunate enough to send two current ninth graders to Japan for the summer program. Sending two students is a first for Shanti Bhavan as well! 

Let’s get to know these ninth graders a little better. 


When I think of Monika, words like motivated, fierce, funny, and passionate come to mind. No obstacle or challenge is too much for Monika to take on. Monika is an exceptional student and consistently ranks at the top of her class. Her hand is frequently in the air, ready to contribute to class discussions or answer questions. On top of that, Monika regularly tutors her classmates in the dorm; she is willing to share her strengths with those around her to help them improve their academics. Monika is a formidable athlete outside class, giving her all on the soccer field and basketball court. She wastes no time coming up with strategies to ensure victory for her teams.  

She also has the unique ability to use her and her family’s struggles as fuel to excel in all areas of life. She reflects on this in one of her application essays. When asked to describe what makes her happy, Monika noted that seeing her family’s happiness gives her joy. That and soccer, of course. 

“My parents and brothers face more hardships than me, so I try to focus on the positive things when I am with them. When I tell my parents and brothers about my studies and the activities I do at school, their smiles are so big, and they have so many questions. Even though I know they wish they could do the same things as me, instead of feeling jealous, they are just so happy that I have the opportunities I do. Their joy and excitement for my future does more than make me happy myself. It motivates me to work harder to reach my goals. To see that they have hope for me makes me truly happy in my heart.”


Surya has a soft heart paired with a go-getter attitude. His care and attention to those around him, juxtaposed with his tenacity, are distinctive aspects of his personality. Surya is one of the top students in his class with a knack for writing thoughtful, personal narratives. He can frequently be found helping others on campus, often reading to the younger children or helping them look after their dorm. 

Outside of school, Surya is a phenomenal dancer. Having danced since he was young, Surya lights up the stage with the enthusiasm and passion he brings to his performances. His joyful presence is evident in his dance routines and his altruistic nature. For example, Surya was asked to describe his motivation for attending UWC ISAK Japan’s Summer School in one of his application essays. Instead of focusing on what he could gain, he put others at the forefront of his response. 

“You only know the value of something when you don’t have it. I have observed first-hand what it is like to miss opportunities because most people in my village have been given none. I am tremendously grateful to have been given an education which many people back at home do not have. Ever since then, I have been compelled to thrive and make the best out of my gift of education and help those who are not as fortunate.”

We look forward to hearing about Monika’s and Surya’s journey to Japan and their experiences last summer!