As Anoushka graduates St. John’s, she says it’s like leaving “home.” St. John’s has been her school-home for half of her academic life. She’s been surrounded by inspiring and supportive friends, colleagues and teachers who have defined her world. She refers to her “St. John’s family” with genuine reverence and she’s hopeful to find a similar experience as she moves to the next chapter of her life in college.
Anoushka has been accepted in a half a dozen schools and programs across the country and has decided on Middlebury College in Vermont. She’s interested in liberal arts. She also sees medical school in her long term plans. Many members of her extended family are in the medical field and she’s inspired by what they’re doing for the community.
Anoushka was born in Mumbai, India, (then known as Bombay) and when she was just a few months old, Anoushka and her family moved to Lagos, Nigeria. When she was almost seven, they moved to the United States. Houston was their choice and it’s where Anoushka, her older brother, mother and father have lived since. Last summer, Anoushka interned with the Time of India and visited her birthplace and relived her cultural roots. That’s now part of her experience that helps shape her broad view of life.
Congratulations to Anoushka for being selected as one of three winners in KUHF’s first Student Essay Contest sponsored by Spectra Energy. In addition to having her essay broadcast on the radio and archived as a part of our regular weekly series, Anoushka will enjoy a laptop computer and a savings bond which will help in her first year of college.
Here’s Anoushka Sinha with her essay for KUHF’s This I Believe.
“I believe in the power of community, though I may not always have understood it.
In fact, the word “community” was first introduced to me on a Monopoly game board. A roll of the dice landed me a yellow card from the community chest, which seized fifty dollars from my precious funds. Grumbling, I asked my brother what the word “community” even meant. He scratched his head in childish meditation and said, “Probably something or someone who takes away your stuff.”
My early years in Lagos certainly resembled a board game. Every day was a new roll of the dice, a fresh opportunity to explore the city, provided I did not probe too naively the shimmering edges of our social bubble. My sugarcoated childhood felt like a candy-land filled with the most trivial of pursuits. Even on days when I grappled with a failure, I was sure of a happily ever after; it was, after all, just a game. And while I basked in boredom, I remained blissfully unaware of the hot struggles of those who toiled just outside the clean margins of our game board.
“Community” later reappeared as one of my vocabulary words in second grade. Here in Houston I found myself tossed into a brave new world and acted quickly to forge connections with its people. But some automatically branded me an outsider, and their name-calling thrust new and unprintable words into my vocabulary. Demoralized, I would often wish I could simply wash away my differences. But as I grew older I washed away instead these insecurities.
People found it much easier to accept me for who I was after I learned to accept myself. Yes, my skin was brown, yet underneath my blood was red, my bones white. I cannot claim to have stopped caring about my appearance however aside from the occasional pimple, I became comfortable in my own skin. I gave everyone a smile and made an effort to understand others before trying to make myself understood.
Despite my brother’s rather ingenious definition of the word, I now believe that “community” is not about what is taken away but instead what we give. My community is the unity I feel with every person who leaves a fragrance on my life. And I will continue to reach out to others and expand that community with each new connection I form. This I believe.”