Attending the University of St Andrews comes with many benefits. The close-knit environment, the world-class teaching and research, the beaches, and the opportunity to get involved with the biggest guilty pleasure of students worldwide. I became the co-organiser of TEDxUniversityofStAndrews 2013, a long process that culminated in a conference this past Saturday. Organising the conference instilled in me a passion for spreading ideas, which was only magnified by the talks on the day and the ensuing conversations with the speakers, showing me how important it is to act upon my beliefs. I was taken aback by the speakers' dedication, as well as the unbridled passion they invest into their every thought and action, which has inspired me to reflect upon my own situation, my own life story, and my own sources of dedication.
This June, I am reaching a major turning point in my life, as I will graduate from one of Britain's leading universities. This privilege has made me appreciate the years of education I have enjoyed and the fortune I have in comparison to millions of young people around the world who are unable to follow their dreams in the same way. India in particular, the home country of my girlfriend, the home of a charity where my friend Pia Noel has worked closely in the past, and a country I have visited and plan to visit again, suffers from a lack of educational access for young people. I want to change that.
I am not a philanthropist. I am a student with financial constraints, with a limited amount of money to spare. But at this point in time, when my family and friends may decide to give me gifts to celebrate my graduation, I have realized that I am unable to accept them. Instead, I have asked them to help send young children to school through a charity called Shantidhara, which seeks to provide funds to different tribes in Andhra Pradesh. This creates benefits for the children, their families and the wider tribal community through a literate and educated person who can protect the lands and contribute to the growth and welfare of the community. In this spirit, I have also decided to run the Edinburgh Marathon with my brother on May 27th 2013 and hope to raise additional money in this way (see here).
I know that one person cannot change the world. But if other graduating students follow my lead and pledge their graduation presents to charity, we can truly make a difference. If we look deep inside our hearts, I'm sure most of us will realize we do not necessarily need the tokens of appreciation brought by our families. I am lucky enough to have made it this far, and thoroughly believe that it is our duty to pause, reflect and help others who have not enjoyed the same benefits as us, through financial or non-financial support. Giving back is the greatest gift our generation can give in order to make the world a little bit better.