Published: 10th March 2021
These students from Hyderabad want to root out discrimination and this is their plan
Aaria Chandwani, Adarsh Chittimoori and Saachi Gonzalez Chennur from CHIREC International School conduct sessions so that discrimination is identified and reduced. They call it The Lighthouse
Conversations — that's all it takes to break down all those imaginary discriminatory walls we construct between 'us' and 'them'. To facilitate these conversations and show you the way, The Lighthouse was started by Aaria Chandwani (15), Adarsh Chittimoori (14) and Saachi Gonzalez Chennur (15). "Collectively, we have always been interested in the cause of equality," starts off Aaria. Thus, with the help of 1M1B (1Million for 1 Billion) Foundation they set out on this journey to bridge the differences via conversations, in 2020. Due to their Board exams, they had to pause all activities last month, but they are now back in action.
Their next sessions are coming up with students in South Africa and the USA
The trio breaks it down for us by explaining that they conduct two kinds of virtual sessions, national and international. The national sessions, which they plan to take offline by 2022, play out over two days for one hour each, where a small batch of ten to 15 students first understand what discrimination is and then, on the second day, activities are planned based on that. The international sessions are more special and that much more tedious for the three musketeers to plan. You see, they involve students from other countries and so far, they have hosted Pakistan and the Philippines. But if you are wondering what discrimination could children possibly experience, remember that certain things are ingrained in us unintentionally, like how we sometimes feel towards citizens of other countries or inequalities we see at home due to patriarchy.
On a zoom call | (Pic: The Lighthouse)
"We play four to five games which bring out our commonalities. The games can be as simple as Bingo. When the participants get more involved in playing rather than focusing on the differences, we remind them how it is possible to forget our differences too," explains Aaria, while Adarsh chimes in saying, "We keep in touch with them even after the sessions so that these are actually life-long lessons." Their idea is really that simple, just felicitating conversations. They have done so for The Future Kid's School and Pragathi School and are planning it for their own school, CHIREC International School, and The Aga Khan Academy.
Conducting international sessions is hard and connecting with them is a long-drawn process that takes at least a month
"After the sessions, we make them aware of how they have discriminated in the past, if they have, and that's okay, but how they should no longer do it. There is no judgement involved and all information shared is confidential. We also try and share points on how to react against discrimination, whether it's at home or witnessing something happen to others on the street," explains Saachi. Of course, this has been an immense learning experience for the three students as well. "Initially, I wasn't aware of the issues around me and this shocked me. Now, I discuss with the participants and we arrive at a solution together," says Aaria. Adarsh shares that he too held a few discriminatory viewpoints, but by reading up on topics he understood that, "We are not the only people here, the world is diverse." Though Saachi comes from a diverse background, she never personally experienced discrimination. "Opening up and sharing my point of view helped," she says and concludes.
For more on them check out instagram.com/___the_lighthouse___