Send Mumbai Red-Light Area Girl to NY University!

 
$23,627
$1,373
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Apr 1, 2014

Watch my TEDx video!

Me & my sisters!
Me & my sisters!

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all wonderful! I am sorry for not writing – but it has been very crazy for two months. I had mid-term exams, traveled to Bangalore for a TEDx talk, visited everyone in Mumbai and am back in New York but still doing a lot of media interviews and trying to catch up on studying. It is busy but still an amazing month.

When I flew to Bangalore, Robin (Kranti staff) brought my mother by bus and told her they were going to a workshop. So I hid behind some trees as Robin and my mom walked into the hotel, and then my mom sat down. Robin took out her phone, acting like she was checking email but she started recording. I was afraid my mom would die of a heart attack, but when I popped out from behind the trees and yelled “Mummy!” she just hugged me and started crying. I think someone at Kranti had given her a hint because she was not so surprised! My speech was in English so she did not understand much, but she just smiled alllll day and so many people came and congratulated her afterwards. I am THE luckiest person in this universe to have her as my mother!!

Then we got on a bus to Mumbai, with the next plan to surprise the Kranti girls. My mother and Robin went in early, then I knocked on the door casually. The girls opened the door and started screaming and screaming and screaming! (Video below.) We hugged and laughed for a while, and then I started on my big mission in Mumbai – eating! Bani (Kranti staff and chef extraordinaire) had made fish rice for my arrival, but on my flight I had made a list of all the things I wanted to eat in Mumbai, especially street food. The six days in Mumbai flew by – eating, talking and laughing. We went to several movies, we performed our play in Mumbai’s biggest theater, and celebrated Women’s Day together. I could not believe how six days ended so fast…I am so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life.

It was hard to leave India, and I am struggling with a lot of things since coming back to Bard. I miss my family, everyone at Kranti and it is hard to fit into regular American culture sometimes, especially when people talk about TV shows I’ve never seen. There are some great changes I see in myself, like last year when I started college, I was struggling with my English and adjusting to the new environment. This semester, my English is amazing and I am thinking more about my identity and what I really want to do with my life. But classes are still hard…nothing in my Indian education ever prepared me for the amount of thinking, reading and writing required at Bard. But my problems make me more determined to improve things for my friends in Kamathipura (Mumbai’s red-light area) and my sisters at Kranti.

I know many of you are thinking I live a crazy, interesting life. I do – and it’s thanks to people like you. I can’t thank you enough for supporting me and making all of these opportunities possible. I cannot believe I am at Bard, I cannot believe I got to go home for a week, but even more, I can’t believe all the amazing people in my life. People who bring me joy, love me unconditionally (even if I fail!) and remind me how important I am. I hope you have such amazing people in your life too – please take the time to thank them today!

Love,
Shweta

Theater performance on Women
Theater performance on Women's Day

Links:

Dec 30, 2013

Happy New Year from Long Beach, CA! :)

It
It's so cooolllddd!!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you are enjoying your holidays because I am enjoying it a lot with my friends at Long Beach, CA. All of my friends are home with family...but of course Kranti cannot afford a plane ticket for me to visit my family for two weeks. We tried to talk to some airlines to see if they will give me a free ticket but nothing worked out. But it’s okay because now I am staying with my friend whose family is Indian. They are really nice they also contributed me money for my tickets to California. It is beautiful here, but most important, it is sunny and reminds me of home! :)

“I am done with my first semester. Wait….what?? Seriously? But I JUST came and I just started classes. What’s happening??” this was my reaction on the last day of our classes. This semester went like ZOOOOP and without realizing, the year is gone. It is great to have a break from classes now. But freshmen only have two weeks of break and everyone else has five weeks. It is very tragic. After two weeks we have to go back to Bard to do a class called Citizen Science, I hope it is good!

This semester has been a great change for me. It was mixed with everything crying, laughing, dancing, adjusting, learning, expressing, and sharing. While I was at college I used to ask myself, “Why am I even here in the states? I should have stayed in India and studied there.” This was all because I was thinking of my family and I was homesick, but I have finally made some friends and am starting to feel less homesick. My favorite class this semester was English for international students because we are all from different countries and we all have different culture and different stories to share. I am excited to change classes next semester and finally start psychology classes!

It was my birthday in December and I really missed my family. Last week, I called my mother and sang her a mother-child song. When I asked her not to cry, you know what she said? “Now that you are so strong I have become strong so don’t worry about me.” She is really amazing and I am so lucky to have her. I want to share two more exciting things about my family – one is that a university in Delhi is giving my mother an award (for ordinary women doing incredible things) and she will be flying to receive the award!!! :) I am very excited and proud! The other amazing news is that my half-sister, Kavita, will be joining Kranti soon! She is 19 and just finished 12th. She also wants to study abroad, so I hope to have her in New York with me next year!!! That is all for now. I hope you are all having wonderful, exciting holidays and looking forward to 2014 as much as I am.

Thank you for all of your support and making all of dreams possible this year!

Love,
Shweta

Long Beach!
Long Beach!
Me with the India flag at Bard :)
Me with the India flag at Bard :)
Me at the Educare Foundation Fundraiser
Me at the Educare Foundation Fundraiser
Nov 25, 2013

It's already snowing!

Life is beautiful! :)
Life is beautiful! :)

Dear Friends & Supporters,

It is almost three months since class started at Bard! The first few weeks were great…I was happy and excited but I had this other weird feeling - I didn't know what. It was all magical; it's been about three months but I still have hard time believing that I am in the USA! It’s just crazy when I look back at my life – where I was even two years ago and where I am now. I miss my family and Kranti and, but I am happy that I am here. There are many students from different country and in my English class there are all international students. It's fun studying with them.

Here most of the things are different: culture, life style, food. Food is the most difficult change though – I REALLY miss Indian food! Maybe I am being biased but I think Indian food is the best. :) The education system is different from what I have experienced before. We read at home then discus it in the class and we all share our experiences. Even though I away from India, I am still close to it by doing some activities here, like there is this South Asian community where there are students from India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

I have even spoken at many fundraisers for Indian organizations here, so I met many Indian-Americans here. I was at the fundraiser organized by Share and Care foundation and there were two THOUSAND Indian people there! I was shocked. OMG! Is it real? It was one of the biggest audiences I spoke to so far. People were very friendly and so many people came to tell they were inspired by my journey.

The most important news, of course – it snowed last night, this is my first snow! It is so so so hot in Mumbai and I have never seen snow falling. It was so beautiful my roommate captured my first reaction in her phone. I was so happy and excited it was magical and so beautiful. I was dancing until it stopped! Now that the magic id is done, I am scared that I will die of cold in the next couple months!! Just wish me luck that I survive through winter. :)

My family, they are so happy that I am away. You know why?? Because it saves so much food for them. They keep sending photos of food they are eating to make me feel jealous but even I send them my photos at Bard to make them jealous. I talk to my family about once a week, but I talk to my mom every day. I used to call her every day, then I stopped for a while, but she said please call for one minute every day, it feels good to hear your voice. I am so lucky to have such wonderful family, friends, and Kranti!

I cannot thank you enough for helping make my lifelong dream possible. I wanted to share just this little bit about my life, I hope you enjoyed reading and I will write every month from now on. Best wishes and happy Thanksgiving!

Love,
Shweta

My serious classmates
My serious classmates
On a student boat ride
On a student boat ride
Any excuse to wear a sari
Any excuse to wear a sari

Links:

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Organization

Kranti

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
http://www.kranti-india.org

Project Leader

Robin Chaurasiya

Mumbai, Maharastra India

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