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From APJ Abdul Kalam to Kylie Jenner, to Kim Namjoon: Apeejay’s emerging leaders chosen for Camp Rising Sun find inspiration from eclectic personalities

After a rigorous screening and interview process, Apeejay Nerul student Vidita Ganesh, Apeejay Svran Global School student Anjani and Apeejay Greater Noida student Paridhi are among the students selcted from 30 countries worldwide, to attend Camp Rising Sun

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Three bright and ambitious students from Apeejay institutes are part of an eclectic group of gifted, highly motivated young people from more than 30 countries to be selected for participation in Camp Rising Sun: a carefully curated programme to promote personal growth, leadership skills, a service ethic, and intercultural understanding.

Organised by the Louis August Jonas Foundation based in the United States, selection for the camp is based on leadership potential, character, individuality, intellect, and ability to learn from experience. Every student selected is awarded a full scholarship to attend Camp Rising Sun (CRS), located in Rhinebeck, NY, 90 miles north of New York City or Virtual Camp Rising Sun (VCRS).

The chosen ones include Apeejay School, Nerul student Vidita Ganesh for the physical camp as well as Apeejay Svran Global School, Faridabad student Anjani and Apeejay International School, Greater Noida student Paridhi for the virtual camp.

Through experiential learning, campers try new things, plan projects, and teach and follow their peers. By taking leadership roles, each camper learns what it means to be accountable to others and true to their own leadership styles. At CRS, campers are encouraged to express their most genuine selves, step outside of their comfort zone and take initiatives to make the changes they want to see come to life.

For some, the experience of leaving home or camping outdoors may be an exciting adventure. For others, it may be their first opportunity to learn a new skill, whether it is dance, sport, or playing a musical instrument.

Vidita Ganesh

Apeejay School, Nerul student Vidita Ganesh is clearly excited about visiting the United States for Camp Rising Sun in June. “I received the camp brochure from my class-teacher, Monika Gupta Ma’am. We were a little hesitant to join at first but the school supported us a lot, especially our Principal, Rakesh Joshi Sir, who encouraged me to apply for the interview process,” says Ganesh.

The camp’s chief objective is to promote leadership skills among students and nurture them into leaders for the future.  Ganesh says she enjoyed the selection process at every stage. “I filled in a questionnaire that evaluated students on their values and their social skills. There were some expected questions such as how I would introduce myself and an example of a great leader in my community. But the most interesting one was this: ‘How would you react, if you were selected for the camp and your roommate was a Pakistani or a Chinese national?’ I answered that it is more important for us to get to know each other as individuals and not on the basis of which country we belong to. When we go to a programme like this, we leave the conflicts of the country behind.  We are there to promote international relations at a very small level.”Another interesting question Vidita was asked revolved around the favourite books that she had read and the leader that I admired the most. “I answered that I love Amish Tripathi’s books, the Shiva trilogy and the Ramchandra series in particular, and the leader I admire the most is former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. I appreciate him so much because he was a great person and he persevered through very difficult situations to become who he was. Plus, he promoted education.”

After the virtual interview the next step involved sending a two-minute presentation or a video about what the students had done to promote social changes in our community, informs Vidita. “My video was inspired by real life. I volunteer for an NGO called Sampoorna Shiksha and I took part in one of their initiatives called Learn on Call. The programme revolved around teaching English to people including college students on the phone. The beneficiaries were located not just in Mumbai but all around the country,” she elaborates.  

Anjani

Anjani, a class 12 student with Apeejay, Svran Global School, Faridabad will join the camp in the virtual mode. Anjani was quizzed on her career plans and hobbies and achievements during the interview, she reveals. “I was asked about my leadership qualities and the leader that I look up to. My answer was that the leaders that I look up to are my mom and uncle since I am the daughter of a single mother and I live with my maternal family. They’ve always looked out for me. My uncle gave up on his dreams and studies at a young age to look after the family since we were not in a good financial condition. He is my role model and I want to be just like him. He selflessly takes care of everybody and I want to be a leader like him one day. He allows us to explore things for ourselves. I admire his determination and strong-willed personality,” she explains.
Outside her family, owing to her long-standing interest in music and business, Anjani finds two contemporary icons of pop culture really inspiring. “When I grow up, I want to be a successful musician and a businesswoman. To the interview panel I gave the example of a singer who has been through a lot of difficulties in life and yet he has made it big and now he is one of the most renowned musicians in the world. I really look up to Kim Namjoon, the leader of the Korean boy band BTS. I plan on going to South Korea next year for my higher studies. I will pursue music and Korean language once there and I am also learning Korean language at the moment,” says Anjani.

As an artiste and businessperson Anjani finds the success strategy of Kylie Jenner really impressive. “She became the youngest billionaire and she is a great woman with such a strong social media presence. Whatever steps she took were great and today she is one of the most renowned people in the world.”

Anjani says her family members have always believed in her. “Initially a little apprehensive about the camp, after I told her I really want to do this, my mother really encouraged me to follow my dreams. And my uncle, he told me I am a prodigy and will be the first person in the family to become a millionaire. I was glad to hear this because that’s what my dream is all about!” exclaims Anjani.   

Paridhi

Paridhi, a class 10 student of Apeejay International School, Greater Noida, will be a virtual participant at Camp Rising Sun, owing to the visa restrictions. Explaining the selection procedure, Paridhi says it was her class teacher who nominated for the camp. “Organised by the Louis August Jonas Foundation, it is a full scholarship programme and they select around 55 students from more than 30 countries across the world. I am so honoured to be one of the 55 chosen ones.  Next, I went to the school and filled up a questionnaire with some Value-Based and Critical Thinking questions. Then I had to fill an application that took me three hours to complete. The next step was submission of a mini project, in which I wrote an essay and made a video.”
So, what was the subject of the essay and presentation that clinched the selection for Paridhi? 

The essay and presentation were about problems in society such as injustice and discrimination that students can resolve, to make the world a better place, she explains. “I made a few points in the presentation. First, in our justice system, unless you have lots of money, you may not get the right lawyers and the right kind of support. Because of this a lot of poor families may suffer for crimes they might not have committed. Secondly, the economic gap in the country is gaping and this means the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer. These were a few things I identified and spoke about.”

Paridhi’s father Dr Avdesh Gupta is a professor in AI and Machine Learning at Karnavati University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat and her mother Geeta Gupta is a homemaker. When she first heard of her daughter’s selection she was overwhelmed with emotion. “WhenI received the confirmation, I was getting ready for school. My father lives in Gujarat because of his work. When I told my mother, she was so happy she had tears in her eyes. It was a really proud moment for her. It was my first international achievement and it was a really big one. Both my parents are really happy and proud of me.”
After class 12, Paridhi aspires to be a doctor and will choose the Sciences stream. “There is a satisfaction that doctors get from healing people and I am fascinated by the idea of studying about yourself. Biology is the subject that teaches you about what you are made up of and what is going on inside you. That is something really amazing and something I want to study about,” she says.

Aasheesh Sharma is a seasoned journalist with an experience of more than 25 years spread over newspapers, news agencies, magazines and television. He has worked in leadership positions in media groups such as Hindustan Times, India Today, Times of India, NDTV, UNI and IANS. He is a published author and his essay on the longest train journey in India was included in an anthology of writings on the railways, brought out by Rupa Publications. As the Editor of Apeejay Newsroom, he is responsible for coverage of the latest news and developments in the Apeejay institutions. He can be reached at [email protected] He tweets @Aasheesh74

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