Ekal Vidyalaya: Engaging High School and College Students


Students engaging in conversations with volunteers at Ekal booth

HOUSTON: The Houston chapter of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation was a notable presence at two recent youth cultural events in the Houston Metro area.  The first of these events, called the Global Issues Summit (GIS), took place on Saturday, April 16, at the famed Clements High School, in Sugar Land. This event was hosted by the Fort Bend ISD’s Global Studies Academy and was anchored on five elements – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. The event focus was on “Turning Awareness into Action” with regards to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Naren Chavda, the Houston Chapter President, and Vivek Pradhan, the Houston Chapter Public Relations Officer, addressed a group of over 700 high school students in the audience on Ekal and its recent offshoot, HFRI, or Health Foundation for Rural India, under the banner of Partnership sub-theme. Chavda and Pradhan talked about the broader Ekal mission, the Ekal Abhiyan, which whilst being anchored in education, has expanded Ekal activities to vocational training, health literacy, and related holistic development and empowerment initiatives. Both presentations helped link the Ekal mission and activities with more than 60% of the UN SDGs. GIS organizers presented Ekal with a plaque, in recognition of participation and service Ekal provides through its mission.

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Clements Global Studies Academy recognized Ekal Vidyalaya with a plaque

The presentations were very well received by the audience – as was exemplified by the significant number of students from the audience visiting the Ekal booth during the breaks, asking questions and wanting to learn more about Ekal model, its replicability, and also potential volunteering opportunities – both here locally, in Houston, and in India.  Bharti Chavda, Ashok Danda, and Pankaj Desai answered questions and provided more information about Ekal to students visiting the Ekal booth.  Students also expressed interest in the HFRI’s Medical Internship Initiative (MII), the first of which was launched successfully – with nine premedical students from top colleges around the United States attending the 12-day “camp” in Ranchi, India, earlier this year.

The second event took place on last Saturday, April 23, at the University of Houston’s Cullen Theater, and was attended by Desai (Houston Chapter’s Vice President) and Pradhan.  It was the national dance competition hosted annually by RAAS All-Stars. This was a culmination of a nationwide competition that brought together the top eight performing teams from the colleges all across the country for the grand finale of the competition.  Ekal is a proud sponsor of the RAAS All-Stars, and extends our warm wishes, sincere appreciation, and felicitation to RAAS All-Stars for hosting this energetic and fun-filled national cultural event every year.

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2016 RAAS All-Stars Championship event kicked off to much fanfare – with all 8 teams being introduced to audience

At the outset of the three hour long competitive performances, Ekal video played and enthralled the audience with how far Ekal had come in the past 25 plus years since its inception, here in Houston.  Pradhan provided a brief overview of Ekal Abhiyan, and reminded the strong 1000+ in audience, mostly the college students, that Ekal mission continues to expand, as more needs to be done, to educate and empower those in the remotest villages of India, and that this will need the youth enthusiasm to sustain the volunteer base, to endure this noble mission.  Desai addressed the questions and provided additional information to the people who stopped by Ekal booth at the RAAS event.

 For more information about the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, please visit www.ekal.org and click on Who We Are or What We Do, or contact us at ekalusa@ekal.org.