Saturday, 1 August 2015

Lotus Valley Private School

A few days, I conducted a workshop at Lotus Valley School, a private school in Gurgaon. There were about 130 girls in the gym. It was remarkable to see the disparity in India. From teaching in a crowded room with no air conditioning and full of sweaty bodies in the village school to a private school with privileged students, wide air conditioned basketball court, skating ring, and more, I couldn't believe how wide the range of schools and students there were. It is unfair to those who are unfortunately born in circumstances of poverty. That's more the reason I believe that the culture of service to the community should be implemented in private schools across India. In my opinion, the wealthy and upper middle class have a sense of entitlement and privilege. . It is important that you appreciate what you are born with and give back as much as you can to those who are less fortunate than you.

Monday, 20 July 2015

National Young Women of Distinction!

Haven't posted in a while, it's been quite an eventful week! First off, wanted to share the good news :) I was selected as a National Young Women of Distinction 2015. This prestigious community service award  is given to 10 girls in high school/college across America who have demonstrated high level of positive both globally and locally. I was incredibly honored to be selected!

Village Gov. School Photos

Tree Plantation Day on July 1st

July 1st was national tree plantation day in India. I was fortunate enough to see and participate in the festivities. I went to the village and planted trees with all of the children. Check out pics below!

A picture of the village

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Mental Strength

Strength comes in different forms: mental and physical. To approach physical strength, one needs mental strength. This isn't a new concept and many of us already know this fact. However, through my training both as a student and an instructor, I've seen that having physical strength, better worded, confidence and a lack of fear in your physical ability, actually creates mental confidence and strength.

Something I try to do a few times a week before class is mediation. This increases one's concentration and allows the mind to become strong and calm.

Dr. Kiran Bedi

On July 1st, I had the great honor to meet the fantastic woman, Kiran Bedi. I contacted her last December for a project in India and she connected me to her organization.

Kiran Bedi is the first female woman to join the Indian Police Service.  She founded Navjyoti India Foundation in 1987. NIF has helped over 50,000 people in rural communities ranging from programs such as Drug Dependency Reduction, Women empowerment, Community Development, Rural Growth Sector, and more. This great nonprofit is absolutely amazing. I have the great honor to partner with them and contribute to their vision to challenge the socioeconomic inequalities and enable society towards self reliance.

 Bedi was also the BJP Chief Minister candidate for Delhi elections this year. She was honored by the UN for her outstanding service and Women of the Year (twice!). Her passion and dedication towards helping the poor and maintaining justice in society is exceptional. She is an absolute rockstar and my #1 idol.

She said something very important to me. Something I'll remember for the rest of my life. When I asked how I can take the movement towards safety for women to reach new heights in India. She responded:
"You want to make a change? Start with 6. Then expand it. 60, 600, 6000. Soon you'll have a 6 million girl revolution. You can do this. Just keep going."

Thank you for the encouragement. You will continue inspiring me for the rest of my life.


New School!

Hey guys! Sorry for the horrible one week gap!! I didn't have internet for a few days, so didn't get the chance to update the blog!

Anyways, I started at a new school last Wednesday, July 1st at a Gov't Sr. Secondary School only for Girls. I taught girls from the grades 9-12. Check out some pics below!

Starting off the morning with some stretching!

End of class, the girls convinced me to show them a nun chuck demonstration. I was a little rusty, but it was fun!
It was amazing to the reaction of the girls after the first few days. One class was even so jam packed that we had to remove all of the desks surrounding the room. BTW, a room full of 110 (ish) girls exercising and with the body heat makes the room super hot!! But you get used to it. I've learned from these girls, many of whom who live in very poor conditions and in rural setting, that you need mental strength to adapt and overcome to truly make a difference.

Had the girls make two lines and have each of them come on stage to do combination kicking, punching techniques.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

More Pics!

Teaching self defense techniques.

Quick glimpse of the village , women and children

Lotki village girls listening

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Older Rural Women-June 26th

I've only been in India for about a week, but so far, this has been one of the most interesting parts of my visit. Pictured above are some of the older women from another neighboring village to Lotki who I taught. Not many women came because in that specific village, women are generally not allowed out of their houses. Furthermore, many are afraid of going out alone due to demeaning stares by men and fear of violence.

I taught self defense maneuvers such as wrist grabbing, chokeholds and more. We also practiced punching and blocking. I unfortunately couldn't teach any kicks due to the traditional attire they were wearing. When I asked if they were able to wear any other attire, they said they have to only wear that and also could not expose their heads because the men do not like their wives exposed in any way. Often, when going out, the women would put the cloth on their head completely over their faces. This was not religious (as is in the Muslim culture or other religions), but was patriarchal and cultural in the rural setting.  It was sad how dominated the women were by their husbands and other males in society.

After about 30 minutes, the women got pretty tired so we discussed empowering women. The best way to empower a women is to encourage her to become a leader in her community. Doing service and support other women in pursuing small business ventures, helping a women who is being abused by her husband, or even encouraging the next generation of daughters to become educated to escape their circumstances

First day Teaching-June 25th

I started teaching my curriculum to the girls the day after arriving to India. In the morning, I taught about 30 girls who were around my age at a village called Lotki. It was a very interesting, and initially pretty difficult experience. First of all,  it was slightly difficult to communicate with the girls, because they couldn't understand/speak English very well and my Hindhi was a bit (ok, a lot!) rusty. My dad helped translate initially. Furthermore, self defense mainly revolves around visually demonstrating so it became increasingly easier.

Second, it was so hot! Since it is a village, there's not really a gym or hall I could hold the class in, so the villagers decided that outside the Mandir (temple) would be a good place because it had a good amount of space. However, after the first day, the Pandit (religious head of the temple) thought it was quote (translated) "promoting warfare", so we moved across the temple. Ironic because self defense is aimed at protecting women from men who promote warfare by assaulting women frequently. Anyways, had a good laugh over that one. 

I began the class with some exercises and punching/kicking. I noticed that many of these girls were very weak and frail. A few of them seemed very underconfident as well. It was evident that there is a level of patriarchy and male dominance in the village. Since women empowerment is a large part of what I hoped to achieve, I talked with the girls about their life endeavors and what they hoped to achieve. Many of them talked about being doctors, fashion designers, or traveling the world. However, afterwards, they depressingly said that they would probably end up just getting married and becoming housewives. I asked one of the girls if she could give an approximation of how many girls out of the 30 would never leave the village and become housewives. She said an alarming percentage: 98% of them. One of the girls, who looked about my age, perhaps a few years older, was already married.  I hope one day these girls will have both the physical and mental confidence to escape their circumstance and achieve their dreams. 

Discussing the issues women face in the world and how to build confidence.

Practicing knife hand strike. 

A picture I took of the women in the village.Wow, really admire these women for their mental strength for carrying such a heavy load  in about 110 degree weather. Makes you appreciate how easy life is for many of us in the world. 

My First Impression of the Village-

I arrived to Delhi, India on June 24th. 

I first visited one of the villages the very next day to set up for the classes. I couldn't stop looking out of the car window. I saw so many fascinating sights. For instance, there was a mob of about 30 cows lead by an elderly, crippled man dressed completely in white, rural women with very traditional clothing who carried large bowls on their heads, and huts made of dirt and cow manure. It was as if I stepped in to a completely different world that was isolated from civilization, technology, and modernization. 

As I continued to observe the villagers, I noticed something intriguing. Despite the rural setting, the villagers seemed to have a striking similarity to the urban world. They were always working. Whether it was working on the fields, a small child carrying milk 10 miles, or herding the goats, the villagers went on with their life with vigor and productivity. I admire the villagers for their ability to  cope with their circumstances. Thinking more about it, it's not them coping with what they're born with but living their life to their fullest in the perspective of their circumstance. Happiness is all a matter of reference frame. I envied and idolize them for their ability to look at the small things in life and find contentment with working hard for feeding their families and accomplishing their endeavors. The standard of living I have grown up with in the USA compared to these villagers seems to break the bonds of reality. It doesn't seem right that some have won the game of the Ovarian Lottery and some have not. But that itself has given me the motivation and strength to work hard to help these women in the village who have not only been born in rural circumstances, but as a highly discriminated gender.  I look forward to the next 6 weeks and hope my work has an impact on these girls and women. 

Monday, 29 June 2015


Hey guys! Welcome to my blog. My main purpose is not only to educate the public on the issue of violence against women and gender discrimination but also share my experiences with my service towards eliminating this issue. This summer of 2015, I traveled to India to teach self defense and women empowerment to girls and women in both rural villages and urban settings.

As a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, I am teaching nearly 500 girls a day techniques for defending themselves. So far, my experience has been phenomenal. Working in the villages has given me a genuine personal perspective on how little people in the world survive with and given me the opportunity to appreciate what I have and continue to give back. By working and talking with the girls from the village, I've gained intriguing insights on the state of gender equality in rural settings across India.

I look forward to sharing my passion, experiences, and more with you in the next few weeks! Hopefully (whenever I get the chance to access internet!) I'll post a few times a week.

Hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading.