Global Sites: India
Students in Los Angeles sat on the edge of their seats to see the pages of the book from India. Pencil shavings had been glued onto pages as flowers. Cotton balls filled the urns drawn on the pages, which told of the students’ careful development of their current habits-of-heart, Respect and Sympathy. The book came in response to a challenge from the Heroes Class. (See related story under Charter Schools.)
When asked to provide help for those who they sympathized with in their community, the Indian children at Nishanth Full-Circle Learning Academy, in Chennai, India, chose the “orphaned grandparents.” It was an especially poignant choice in a country where extended families rely on each other, and aging parents often have no safety net once their children have passed. The project’s own founders, the Selvakumars, founded the school to quell their own grief over the loss of their 24-year old son. Now the young children had created gifts for “orphaned grandparents” and delivered them, along with kisses, in exchange for blessings, as these grandparents had no one to bless. They bowed down before the grandparents, the moment memorialized in photos and glued into the book they sent to their American global partners, now sitting on the edge of their seats to see.
A Venn diagram on the board soon showed that we all have similar hurts and needs and ways to use our skills to show love, respect and sympathy; only the gestures change. Now all the Los Angeles children want to speak Tamil and go to India. They hope to hear soon what the Indian children want!
Other projects of the Nishanth Full-Circle Learning Academy include environmental projects, exchanges with orphans, events to promote cultural and religious tolerance, and Founders’ Day celebrations warning of the dangers of smoking and encouraging acts of selflessness
The project in India began when a young man named Nishanth Selvakumar lost his life in a traffic accident in California. His grieving parents, Shanti and Shelva, and his employer, Kavian Magzhy, collaborated to start a school for in his memory, asking Full-Circle Learning to assist with the launch and provide training. The school would serve those who could not otherwise afford quality education. Grants from EHG has been helpful in the founding of the school, and the Selvakumars have made great sacrifices to keep it running. The site selected was a converted apartment building next door to the home where Nishanth grew up. In due time, the school gained greater self-sufficiency, and leaders helped students address vital community issues while teaching them to connect inner character strengths to academic and artistic talents to address those needs. The Nishanth Full-Circle Learning School is a shining example to others around the world.