“Yeh construction se Purandare Park ke logon ko bahut dikat ho rahi hai aur aapko isse jaldi se fix karna chahiye,” I said with concern. (The construction at Purandare Park is causing a mess and inconvenience to the residents and you need to fix it as soon as possible.) I arrived at my grandfather’s home in Mumbai, India, but when I came within 800 feet of the building, the path that led to the entrance was covered in trenches of rainwater and mud due to the construction of the building next door.
A woman approached, her hands filled with grocery bags from the bazaar. My mom, dad, sister, and I stood in a line, our Samsonite suitcases lined up in front of us, wondering how this woman would navigate the filthy terrain. As she nonchalantly stepped in the muck, her feet slowly sink into what I viewed as an impossible hurdle–I watched in shock.
I was in the heart of Mumbai, India, the second most populated country in the world. Residents of this building had been walking across this keechad to return home for the last three months; yet, the dwellers still remained silent.
I thought back to how fast we take action in the U.S. Growing up in three very different parts of the world—New Jersey, Dubai, and Mumbai—allows me to observe the role of women in different countries. Attending Model United Nations conferences in cities around the U.S. compelled me to further explore the hardships individuals endure daily. At the beginning of my junior year, I came up with the idea of Girl Up. This club—a branch of the U.N.—was designed to help adolescent girls who live in impoverished situations around the world. I approached the assistant principal with my idea; he loved it. The endless paperwork for this club was completed in less than a week; however, the steps that followed took nearly one year.
After emailing the club approval committee for weeks to learn when the Board of Education would discuss Girl Up and receiving no response, I decided to attend each Board of Education meeting to bring Girl Up for discussion myself. On June 4th, 2018, at 7 p.m., I entered the auditorium once again, prepared to pitch my idea.
The first hour of the meeting was spent impatiently waiting for the public session to begin. When it finally arrived, all I could hope is that my attempts to promote this club for the past year were worth it.
“The Bernards Township Board of Education does hereby recognize the inception of the following New Extra-Curricular Club: Girl Up. All those if favor?” I heard the round of “Ayes” by the board members. By the end of the evening, I had already planned the agenda for the first Girl Up club meeting.
Much like my experience in creating Girl Up, I recognized the situation at my grandfather’s apartment and immediately felt I could make a difference. I decided to use my knowledge of Indian culture and American upbringing to show the residents of the building how to take action. Over the span of two weeks, I repeatedly called the building construction contractor. After receiving no response, I called the Bombay Municipal Corporation. I attended building residents’ meetings to encourage them to take action. Then, I waited. One day. Two days. And still, nothing happened. I called again. Nothing. Finally, on July 30th, 2018, I arrived at the same building and saw a truck filled with concrete. I noticed four men, sweat drenching their banyans, installing concrete over the mud. My words had been heard.
In Indian culture, most women are raised to simply accept what they have; in American culture, women are raised to voice their opinions. However, as an American-Indian, I was raised to constantly question society, strive for the best, and never settle.
Tips for Writing:
One of the challenges I faced while writing this essay was deciding on a topic. I listed out all of my ideas, picked my 3 favorites, and wrote an essay about each one of them. Once I began writing these 3 essays, I could immediately tell which ones would work. One piece of advice I would give to everyone starting the college essay process is to consider everyone’s opinion, but ultimately follow what you think is best. While I was writing my college essay, I talked to my teacher, guidance counselor, friends, and family. Each one had a different perspective on how I should change my essay. Originally, I took all their viewpoints and added each one to my essay. But, after rereading it, I realized that the essay no longer sounded like my own. It was a cohesion of many different ideas. I then began to listen to the different perspectives, but only take into consideration the ones I thought would enhance my essay. If I learned one thing from this process, it is that everyone you talk to will have different opinions on how to write this essay. Although they are all important, the opinion that matters the most is your own.