Once, when visiting my friend, I noticed her son was carrying a small backpack around the house. It appeared empty, but he claimed it was his collection of “core memories.” Inside Out, a 2015 animated film about emotions that alluded to these, was trending in their household at that time. This toddler was very into the movie and therefore very into core memories, which I had never heard of until that moment. Naturally, I googled it later. It turns out they are, in fact, pretty important.
Core memories are thought to be memories of significant moments from our lives that shape our sense of self. For those that happened in our childhood, we return to these memories during various emotional states of being. For our students, many of their most beloved core memories happen at Shanti Bhavan.
Core Memories at Shanti Bhavan
Shanti Bhavan, as an organization, is meaningful to our students because it changes the trajectory of their lives and, by extension, their families’ lives. The proof can be seen in our alumni, who are earning more in their first five years of working than their parents will in a lifetime. They are moving their families to safer neighborhoods, building homes for their parents, paying off family medical bills, and putting siblings through college. The significance of a second school, looking at it purely through an economic outcome lens, is invaluable but measurable.
“But Shanti Bhavan, as a place, is meaningful because it’s where our students learn and grow”
But Shanti Bhavan, as a place, is meaningful because it’s where our students learn and grow. Its breezy, open-air dining hall is where they eat a predictable breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, a concept foreign to their lives before their arrival. Its colorful dorm buildings are where they sleep on their very first bed, clinging tightly to their very first teddy bear. It’s where they run, swing, spin, and jump on a playground built just for them with other children that will become their lifelong friends.
Shanti Bhavan 2: Creating New Memories
Looking through the lens of core memories, a second Shanti Bhavan is significant because it’s where nearly everything will happen that will shape our children into the adults they are to become. In countless conversations I’ve had with graduates, they’ve recalled their favorite spots on the campus of Shanti Bhavan 1. They share specific memories and smile: reading peacefully on weekends in the Circle of Life, a beautiful grassy lawn on campus surrounded by towering palm trees and flowering shrubs of all kinds; getting caught climbing the mango trees on campus, hopes of securing some sweet and juicy contraband just for themselves dashed; dealing with their team’s loss on the soccer field but relishing those experiences nonetheless because they were pivotal moments that made them feel closer to their peers. Though these memories happened so long ago, they still affect graduates today.
Construction for the second Shanti Bhavan school is already underway. While the second school will have many of the same buildings and features as our first campus, its layout differs slightly, and its setting is unique. It’s on a sprawling piece of land north of Bangalore, surrounded by mountains. There’s a temple high on a hill in the background, just beyond the school’s gates. The property has a natural pond, and a sitting area will be available for students near the water. It’s picturesque and peaceful. A perfect place to create core memories.
While I do not yet know the future students and alumni of Shanti Bhavan 2, I can say this: These future students will look back on this place with fondness. Like me, they may not know what core memories are, but they will certainly have them, and the best of these memories will have happened at Shanti Bhavan 2.