Monday, 25 February 2013

So inspired

In my last post, I said I wasn’t brushing elbows with greatness but that’s a big lie.  One doesn’t need a Nobel Prize- one does not even need to surpass 5 feet in height to be great!
Me at the UnB... such a green, airy beautiful campus... meticulous landscaping... actually they spend so much time taking care of the yards that some of the buildings are falling apart...
So today Reva was showing me around the University, introducing me to people and I learned a bit more about her story.  Her family set up an arranged marriage to the man who is now her husband.  During this process, he had already moved to Brazil to work as a professor at UnB so she had never met him, just looked at his profile in the notebook and communicated a bit through the brother in that family.  So she decides to move to Brazil where she doesn’t know any Portuguese, where there are barely any people from India, vegetarianism is extremely rare and marry a man she’s never met.  Fortunately, they get along and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect match- it’s adorable to watch them.  But she said she spent her first few years spending a ton of time in the University library learning Portuguese and actually published three physics papers (her work is theoretical).  During this time, she didn’t have a job and didn’t know the language well enough to have any friends.  She said watching a soap opera was critical to her mastering the language.  Fortunately, they both found jobs at a less reputable college at Victoria then once she got tenure, she was able to earn a salary from there and both her and her husband returned to teach at UnB and they had a son here who is also amazing.

Me outside the library where Reva spent so much quality time 
He went to public school then switched to American School of Brasilia, an exclusive, expensive school where ambassadors tend to send their children.  They were able to send Amit here since the husband recently retired from the University and decided to teach physics and calculus there for a couple years.  (This school is where Reva wants me to work- we’re visiting on Wednesday with a copy of my CV (don’t worry parents, I’d have to finish my degree first…))  Amit went to Stanford for his undergraduate degree with dreams of becoming a doctor.  He traveled to India after his freshmen year for a community service project.  He met another man who ran eleven schools as well as planting a ton of trees who inspired him to build a hospital that would serve 100,000 rural villagers in this isolated area.  He partnered up with four fellow students, now who live all over the northwest: including a chemical engineer turned actress who is working out of LA, a lawyer in Seattle, another lawyer in Portland.  They’ve been working on this Hospitals for Hope project for over 12 years, remotely.  They’ve been really creative with fundraising- they had a colleague write up their story as book whose proceeds benefit the project, a professional photographer sell posters of the village to raise money, as well as more traditional events.  They just completed construction on the hospital last May, with the help of a construction company who agreed to build for free.  All these people are in their mid-20s and did this while working full-time jobs.  Amit got accepted to Yale medical school but has been working as a project manager for Google instead.

This afternoon I’ve been helping Reva with some technological issues, including trying to compress a video of an event related to this project into a form where it can be shared.  But I highly encourage you to check out the link to their website and help out in any way you can.  Reva wants me to convince my mother, who she knows is a nurse, to spent a couple years serving (I’m sure that invitation extends to all my medical school friends!).  Now that they’ve got a building, they need people to work there and run it.

There's so many problems in this world- I hope I find a cause that I'm passionate enough about to improve the world in a significant way.  I'm excited for my interviews to start tomorrow to hear more inspiring stories!  And meanwhile, my first talk is rapidly approaching...