Two years ago, I, along with a few other high schoolers, came together to try to give back to our community. Though we’d been exposed to CORDUSA many times over the years through the CORD walks, our passion was really kicked into high gear when some of us visited CORD’s centers in rural India. Here, we were able to meet the people who CORDUSA was trying to help in person, and that ignited a spark within our souls. We started small that summer, just running two camps, a medical checkup and a LEGO Robotics camp. Both were extremely well received, so we began to meet over the course of the school year in order to better prepare for the next summer. Last summer, we ran two more camps in addition to the first two, a public speaking camp and a cooking camp. I ran the public speaking camp, and was motivated to work my hardest when I saw my students improving before my eyes. Not only did we teach valuable skills to our community’s youth, CORDUSA Youth was able to raise over $2000 for CORDUSA through summer camps last year alone. This year, we plan to expand our camp selection even further, and working out the details now. We’re also conducting two sessions of the Medical check up so that we can establish how our attendees’ vitals have changed over time. As I am heading out to College this year, I am looking forward to coming back and contributing whenever I get a chance.
Having immigrated from India at a young age, my life has always been a delicate balance of adapting to the cultural norms of the society I am tangibly in touch with and staying connected to the rich cultural roots of my heritage. The aroma of South Indian spices, Bharathanatyam & Ballet dance classes, and a fluid linguistic fusion of English and Malayalam make up the colorful mosaic of my childhood.
Through Chinmaya Mission, I found a community of like-minded people who shared the same inclination to strike a balance between their Indian heritage and this American life. It was a place that helped me connect with my family over our shared spiritual values, along with others in the local Indian community and at Chinmaya centers around the country. The classmates I grew up with left a lasting impact on my life and are still close friends. They understood what it was like to have to change out of your indian clothes to watch a movie after Balavihar or argue with your parents about whether you had time to learn geeta chanting. We could relate to each other in a way that we couldn’t with most other people.
As an alumni, I cherish the memories I’ve made at Chinmaya Mission and appreciate its values and teachings that incubated my spiritual growth. I always look forward to visiting our center back in Portland and delight in witnessing it’s growth and development. I am proud to be part of this community of cherished companions, dedicated volunteers, and spiritual seekers. Hari om!