Thursday, December 24, 2009

From Pranav's perspective . . .

Eleven-year-old Pranav Chavan is a 6th grader at Charlottesville’s St. Anne’s-Belfield School. The picture below  was taken when he recorded today's Civic Soapbox essay "How Lucky We Are."

Pranav's essay is, in my opinion, an extraordinarily perceptive and unsentimental piece of writing about the interrelatedness of the human family. It's not just extraordinary for an eleven year old; it's extraordinary for anyone.

When I went to St. Anne's-Belfield to record Pranav, I liked him immediately. He's slightly squirmy, obviously very bright, fun to talk to, courteous, but still opinionated. As we chatted, I learned he likes to swim and play soccer, and that he wants to go to Duke--both for undergraduate and medical school.

Other tidbits gleaned:
Pranav loves America for the opportunities it offers. "It’s a country where the speech of liberty is allowed which is one of many people’s desires," he said.

The only subject in school that gives him trouble is his first year Spanish. He also speaks a little Hindi.

Both of Pranav's parents are nurses at the University of Virginia Hospital. He and his family are Seventh Day Adventists.

So where did Pranav's extraordinary essay come from? What experience could make an eleven-year-old think so deeply about the human condition.

Both of Pranav's parents are from India; his mother from Nagpur; his dad from Pune. The whole family, which also includes Pranav's two sisters, makes frequent trips to India, visiting mainly in Nagpur, where his grandmother on his mother's side still lives.

At one point when Pranav and I were talking, I asked him whether he was going to practice medicine (after he graduates from Duke Medical School) in India or here in America. This is a transcription of what he said:
I think when I grow up, I’ll go back to India so I can help people less fortunate than us. I want to become a doctor so I can help people who are sick. This summer when I went to India and we went to the mall and on the roadside we saw this child dying. Because they were very sick. And the mom was begging for money. She did not have any money. When I grow up I want to go back to India so I can help children like these. The mom was comforting her child. The child was on the sidewalk.
If you didn't hear Pranav's essay, I urge you to listen to it. You'll find a link to it on our website.

May you and your family have a wonderful holiday. May you all be filled with good food and good cheer.

And thanks for being part of the WMRA community.

I'll see you in the New Year.

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