I learned about the Environmental and Social Research Organization (ESRO) from Dr. Meenal Rana, Assistant Professor in the department of Child Development at Humboldt State University (HSU) in Northern California. Meenal has been working on a Youth-Adult Partnerships project with the ESRO that works in rural communities of Northern India. This collaborative effort is engaging school youth in their communities around social and environmental issues.
During my recent trip to India, I had the honor to address the students at the awards ceremony held at Radix Public School, Gungakheri (Baghpat), U.P. on April 27, 2017. I had no idea that I would be the chief guest, and that my daughter Shaweh Harijan and I would be so welcomed by this large gathering of students, teachers, principals, parents and community members. I have never felt so honored by anyone or any organization in all of my 70 years. I thought my heart might burst. By the end of the day, my face was tired from having such a big smile on it for so many hours.
It was such a pleasure to see the performances the students had created. They all had such passion and resolve for protecting the environment. As they performed their skits, songs and street theater in front of a large audience, the many rows of younger students looked on with interest. I was also impressed at the number of teachers, principals and members of ESRO who have worked so hard to make this program a reality. My hat is off to all of you. This is a very worthwhile program bringing relevant curriculum related to some of today’s biggest issues facing all of us on planet Earth.
On June 20, 2017, Dr. Meenal Rana asked me to read the rough draft of “An Evaluation of the Youth Adult Partnership in Community Engagement in Northern India.” After examining this data and reading the narrative, it is clear that this program is not only successful in improving the academic and social skills of the students involved, but is creating a group of passionate, aware and dedicated youth who are taking on some of India’s overwhelming challenges. It is also clear that the students and teachers are ready to take their learnings to the next level of more hands on activities in the schools and in the villages.
On June 16, 2017, a CBS television ad during a Giant’s baseball game showed an image of a young 4-H girl with the audio stating: “You are going to need the next generation of leaders.” When I saw this ad, I immediately thought of all of the students involved in ESRO that I had met in April.
Thank you so much to everyone who extended their welcome and hospitality to me and Shaweh. We were both very moved. I hope to return to India and your village in the future with my husband.