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Showing posts from 2015

22nd Birthday Surprise

My dear friends, I wanted to thank you all for making my birthday so special. You have no idea how much it means to me! This semester has been a whirlwind of crazy and confusing so far, so much so that some of you have only seen me in passing this year, zoning out over work in the dining hall. But there is SO much to celebrate about this year, and it meant a lot to celebrate with all of you in one place yesterday. I have a box called my Happy Box that I open up on rainy days sometimes, full of notes and letters I've collected over the years from friends, family, teachers, employers, etc. that in some way remind me who I am, outside of my outside. The book of letters you all put together for me is like a little Happy Book in itself, and I can't express how much I needed your words last night. My biggest fear on birthdays past, and the reason I annually (since birth) cry the day before, is that I feel like I won’t get that “birthday feeling” -- that childhood doted-upon feeling; th…

Settling into the Semester

It's week six of a semester chock-full of singing and running and working and oh yeah, classes, that I had meant to settle into a bit before blogging about it, but who knows when a time that can qualify as  "settled" will come? I'm a senior now, mind full of all these senior worries like job applications and the capital-F Future, and I want to take a moment to update you all on where I currently find myself.

The summer was not perfect but still stunning, featuring the best work experience I've ever had, complete with weekly busking in Central Park and an amazingly successful fundraising campaign for Gyaan Ghar (thanks to all of you).  If you're wondering why I didn't post about it more often, it's because I've been experimenting with writing for myself -- and ended the summer with 56 pages narrating my summer experience in New York!

The school year kicked off with an a cappella retreat at Mr. Chanania's home followed by auditions to find four …

Supporting My School

As many of you know, in 2008 I was lucky enough to be able to start a small after-school learning center in Ludhiana, to provide free supplementary education to a group of 20 students I had been tutoring before then and had become very close to. Their passion for learning outside of the classroom, both when I would visit India over my summer breaks and beyond, inspired me to create a space where they could take this creativity every day of the year, where it would be welcomed and nurtured.
Since then, Gyaan Ghar has been thriving, supported by two wonderful full-time teachers, bolstered by the New Lajpat Nagar community, and tirelessly overseen by my grandmother, Amrit Kaur. We have 65 students enrolled, a handful of whom are still with us from that first batch that I used to tutor in 2008! All in all, classes in art, music, theater, public speaking, computers, and environmental awareness are running smoothly and students remain enthusiastic and eager to learn. Working with students an…

What am I doing this summer?

This summer, I’m working at the Business Outreach Center (BOC), a micro-lending and direct service provision organization that works to improve the economic prospects of traditionally underserved groups, with a focus on low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs. The majority of our clients are women, immigrants, refugees, or members of other minority groups, and BOC has offices in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. BOC counselors work with these small business owners through one-on-one counseling as well as via workshops for cohorts of these entrepreneurs.

I’ll be getting exposure to both of these models this summer, as I guide individual entrepreneurs through the Best for NYC challenge, and also help to design the Blueprint to Success workshop for construction contractors.
The Best for NYC challenge is a campaign launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), to encourage companies to use business as a force for creating social and environmental good, and to recogn…

Best Year Yet

Junior year was finally it. Past the awkward adjustments of freshman year and the soul-crushing slump that is being a sophomore, and before the real-world worries of being an almost-adult that are coming up for us seniors (!), this year was when I felt like I finally "hit my stride" in school.

This spring semester, I took some of the best classes I've had at Harvard. I sang a lot. I learned things and had some of the best conversations of my life.

I also live with all of my best friends. Not a moment can be dull: wading through hours of requisite writing becomes a celebration when it's done overnight in a library that has a piano. Reviewing pages miles long of information is an adventure when you take breaks to clear your mind and enjoy the sunshine. The most daunting of weeks seem laughable when coffee, music, and words exist.

I'll enumerate an arbitrary list of stand-out moments below, knowing full well that the most enjoyable ones could be neither photographe…

Hibernating in Hindustan

I return to Harvard for my sixth semester completely refreshed and rejuvenated after a month spent in India with my dear extended family. 
My goals for this period were to “spend time with my grandparents,” “do nothing,” and “think.” Despite their very modest nature, there was indeed a (quite long!) phase during which I felt uneasy that either a) I was not accomplishing these objectives successfully, or b) these were not the “right” goals to have for a winter break, or c) both. But I can say based especially on my last few weeks traveling that there could have been no better way to reset my consciousness and get ready for the grind of junior spring.
When asked what my favorite things about India are, I usually say the air and the birds. Both are distinctly different from those in the US. After this winter’s visit, I would like to add the fruits and the streets of India to this list. There is a kind of weird, probably pretentious calm that overcomes me on long (between two- and six-hour)…

Resolutions for the day

1. Be less scared when I sing
2. Kiss my friends' foreheads more often
3. Write more genuine papers
4. Don't shy away from pain
5. Don't shy away from pleasure
6. Cherish uneventful days
7. Wear less makeup
8. Take the T more often
9. Go to tea more often
10. Never forget about words
11. Harbor less hatred for numbers
12. Abandon consistency as a rule
13. Don't be tired