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Ekal Power Of Education

Manorama Choudhury and Ranjani Saigal

What a power-packed event, “‘Power of Education” by Ekal’s Boston chapter on Sunday, Oct 16th at Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA.  Ekal Vidyalaya is an organization that brings education and empowerment to over 100,000 remote rural villages in India. For more information on Ekal, check out http://ekal.org. 

The Ekal Power of Education organizing team spent countless hours and sleepless nights for the past few weeks to make this event successful. The hall was filled with academics, entrepreneurs, and compassionate souls who believe in making a difference in rural India and stepping forward to  be the change, heeding Mahatma Gandhi’s exhortation, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” 
After a brief welcome by Ranjani Saigal, executive director for Ekal USA, where she acknowledged the sponsors, AcceptU, ConnectM, Printing and Graphics Services and Nyrvaana, Subra Dravida who will be taking over as Ekal USA President in 2023, described the work of Ekal in detail.  He delivered a  clear message, about why and how we support the Ekal movement in order to bring about impactful changes in the villages of India. Along with education, he  also emphasized how Women’s Empowerment and holistic development of the whole village can make a huge difference for future generations. This was followed by the Ekal video, produced in Ekal villages for POE which was stunningly moving and inspiring  Manorama Choudhury and Rakesh Kapoor worked diligently to script, produce and edit the video.

The keynote speaker for the event was  Prof. Eric Klopfer from MIT.  In a fireside chat with Dr. Subra Dravida, Dr. Eric Klopfer from MIT who is a worldwide authority on digital education gave wonderful insights into digital education.  “ We should assess what we value (such as cognitive skills) instead of valuing what we assess,” said Klopfer. In addition, he also said we should design digital lessons and games in conjunction with the teachers and not impose lessons upon them from somewhere else.

Ekal donors Mukesh Chatter, Vandana Sharma and Pratibha Varshney spoke about the importance of Ekal’s work and why they supported Ekal. The donor panel was moderated by Dr. Meena Subramanyam, who serves on the board of Ekal USA. 

Manisha Jain introduced, A’niche, an American Indian rapper who presented songs that were beautiful and spoke of his cultural heritage roots and admiration for his parents and ancestors.

Manorama Choudhury presented a befitting and heartwarming tribute to the Late Neeraj Chandra who had served as  Ekal "Power of Education" key team member for several years. Ekal misses him deeply. “He always said Ekal was the best return for your investment” said Anu Chitrapu who along with Ranjani Saigal led the pledge drive. 

A team of five women, Latha Krishnan, Anu Chitrapu,  Meena Subramanyam, Sudha Subbaraman and Ranjani Saigal jointly decided to sponsor an Integrated Village Development project in Tamilnadu.

The event ended with an acknowledgement of the volunteer, a heartwarming poem by Parveen Minocha on Ekal.   

Guests were given a festive gift. Behind the festive-looking take-home goodie bags, there hangs a tale worth mentioning here. The bags were made by nyrvaana.com (a charitable effort by Anu Chitrapu), the organic turmeric came from one of the Ekal villages, laddoos were made by Laddoo Gopal. It took an assembly line for those treats from the idea to execution. The goodie bag included a beautiful thank you note. 

Dinner by Masala Art followed. Aneesha Karody of TaranaOm provided the beautiful decor. Sound was by Jawed Wahid. 

Meena Mehta, Latha Krishnan, Parveen Minocha, Nikita Minocha, Raksha Soni, and Neelam Wali designed and printed all the collateral.  Anu Dravida, Shobana and Krishna Sampath, Pushpa and Namdev Baskaran, Niti & Rishi Kapoor, Srilakshmi and Sriganesh, Anil Minocha and Arun Upneja helped with all the logistics.

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