Students advocate for education change in India

Sophomore Seeta Menon knows the importance of education – not just because she is pursing her own undergraduate degree, but also because she has met others who will never get that opportunity.

Menon is a member of the GW chapter of Asha for Education, which is dedicated to bringing socio-economic change in India through the education of the country’s underprivileged children. With 66 chapters all over the world and more than 1,000 volunteers, Asha groups raise money and resources for Indian youths to develop themselves academically.

Menon, who has been to India every other year since she was two years old said, “I was instantly interested in Asha because the need for an organization like it is visible upon visiting India.”

In high school, Menon also spent three weeks in Chennai, India, volunteering at a center for students with learning disabilities.

“It is relatively well-funded,” Menon said about the school in Chennai, “but it has far fewer resources than a school in the United States. Knowing first hand the state of a school – that is considered one of the better ones – made me wonder how schools in poorer and rural areas of India are (surviving).”

GW’s Asha chapter, which started at the end of last semester, is gearing up to fundraise money for their cause and build their name around campus this spring.

Asha chapters all over the world are able to tackle poorer rural areas in India by raising awareness and fundraising. Hands on volunteer opportunities in India are also available through Asha sponsored programs.

“We know we are a part of a bigger movement beyond just what our school is doing,” Menon said. “We also have a chance to become a part of this by becoming the people who go to India and help build schools, teach children and create a structure that will improve the lives of generations of children.”

Sophomore Susan Varghese, Asha’s vice president, said that the literacy rate in India is more than just an education problem – it is a socio-economic problem as well.

“I like that they tackle education because I feel like it’s the best firsthand way to take on socio-economic (problems),” Varghese said.

Sophomore Neha Chopra, the president of Asha, said that her appreciation of education and her Indian heritage makes Asha an important cause for her to champion.

“In order for kids to grow and develop, they need a strong education,” Neha said. “As college kids, that is what we are doing and hopefully we can help those who are less fortunate do the same.”

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