Each month, Central Penn Parent features a child who is doing great things. They pitch in to make a difference in their schools, places of worship and throughout their communities. They are a blessing to those around them—yet their efforts often go unrecognized. We want to thank them for a job well done! Each child receives a cape and a prize package from our sponsors.
Hershey teen helps global community
Shreya Thakur knew she wanted to do something big to earn her Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts.
Instead of sticking to one of the more custom projects, Shreya, 17, came up with a plan to incorporate her heritage with her interest in medicine.
The Hershey High School senior traveled to Kauhar, India—the village where her mother grew up—to teach life-saving skills to its people.
“I wanted to help people in a way that other people haven’t,” said Shreya, daughter of Dharmendra Kumar and Rashmi Kumari. “A lot of people do the same kind of project for the Gold Award and typically stick to a local cause. I wanted to expand my outreach.”
Shreya had been to India twice before her trip for the Girl Scouts, but never for as long. And what made the project even more challenging, Shreya didn’t exactly have a full understanding of India’s native language, Hindi.
That didn’t slow her down.
Shreya created a presentation board, taught herself Hindi and taught CPR and other skills to more than 1,000 students over the course of a month.
“She had a chance to reconnect with some of her family roots and make a difference there,” said Allison Einsiedel, communications coordinator for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. “She has taken her Gold Award and shown girls that the sky is the limit.”
What made the lessons so important was the conditions of Kauhar don’t make reliable health care very accessible. In fact, according to Shreya, the nearest hospitals are at least a half hour away. Shreya knew the environment wasn’t great and the conditions needed to improve with her mother growing up there.
What made things worse was the struggles with their education systems. Shreya said that the student-to-teacher ratio is extremely high, making learning difficult.
Even so, she had a plan to reach everyone as best she could.
“There were so many students and only one teacher per grade,” Shreya said. “A lot of people in the back, I don’t think they were as apt to learn stuff. In the end, though, I was able to get nearly everyone participating by giving them candy if they answered questions.”
Outside of the Girl Scouts, Shreya is a member of the Hershey tennis team, the science Olympiad and the school orchestra band. She even has her own band which she started with a few of her friends, where she plays the viola.
In the future, Shreya plans to pursue her love for medicine by studying cardiology in college. From there, she hopes to just continue to help others in need.
“I hope I can do more for the villages of India,” Shreya said. “I saw a lot that needed help in those villages. I want to help.”
Christopher Hopkins is assistant editor/web for Central Penn Parent.