Sonia explains how respect for culture impacted her education and is a vital component in the mission of Nanubhai.
I attended an Indian school for years and they were probably the best years ever. I learned Gujarati and
Hindi and devoured books in English. We were taught to respect every religion and we celebrated and
heard about everything in the Indian and the western calendar. My school, Jamnabai Narsee School,
taught me to take pride in Indian culture and customs and made me fall in love with Shakespeare at the
same time. Nothing could have been more perfect. Indian schools teach you about fusion. We integrate
everything with our Indian heritage, from language to education.
The day I left my Indian school to join an American boarding one, I felt that I would never be able to
experience or see fusion again. In the midst of my worries, my boarding school gave me a different gift,
a gift of concern and compassion, the same gift which brought me to Nanubhai this summer. In boarding
school, I ran my own project concerning mobile literacy for women. I met numerous girls who were
passionate about learning the nuances of the English language but were not privileged to do so. One of
my fondest memories of high school was book hunting to put together a library for these women.
Reading material which was culturally appropriate and interesting at the same time.
This summer I was surprised to see similar principles used at this foundation. Everyone can come up
with sustainable and unique solutions and rules but Nanubhai came up with culturally respectful ones at
the same time. Nanubhai interns who are usually from America are encouraged to learn Gujarati and are
exposed to Indian culture closely. The ground team members of Nanubhai in India happen to be
residents of nearby villages who exactly understand the importance of the work Nanubhai does and
encourage more people to support us. We were recently given an assignment which encouraged us to
go out in public and conduct impromptu interviews about the importance of women’s education in
India. The key word to describe this would be fusion. The roots of this organization might be American
but we have embraced Indian culture in every form possible. We respect the rules of the Indian society
and in return we get nothing but the purest form of appreciation and support. I recently gave my
Nanubhai card to a women I buy street food from and in return I got the widest smile possible. Yes, she
said. “Our Gujarati girls must go to college; they must do something with their lives”.