Soul and Substance: Nazneen

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Soul & Substance: Nazneen

Recognising the importance of capturing authentic voices and narratives, here is another interview from Soul and Substance series to share stories of change.

The interview module has been carefully designed to foster an environment of trust, respect, and empathy, ensuring that interviewees feel comfortable sharing their stories and perspectives. It aims to create a safe space where individuals can express their thoughts, emotions, and aspirations freely, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the impact of Smile Foundation’s social development programmes on their lives.

Here is the story of lively and enthusiastic Nazneen* (13 years) enrolled in our Mission Education (ME) programme center located at Shri Ram J.J.Colony, Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi in her own words.

Nazneen, you’re in class 9th and senior to most kids here. Do you help them with their homework and studies? What is your favourite subject?

Oh, I love being able to help other kids at the center. It’s like being a big sister to them! They always come up to me when they want any help with their Maths or History questions. I enjoy my studies, I actually like to study a lot. When I first joined the centre last year, I was not very good at Maths but we had a teacher who explained the concepts to me and motivated me and since then I developed interest in Maths and now when I help these other kids with the same subject, I feel very good. It makes me very happy when my teachers appreciate me and I get good marks.

That’s nice. What else do you enjoy? What are your hobbies?

I spend most of my time reading Hindi story books or solving problems  but I also absolutely love singing and dancing! Although I’m a bit shy in front of others, I copy dance steps from YouTube videos and try to pretend like I am a dancer. I listen to a lot of Korean songs and I also like to copy their dance steps. I have also picked up a few Korean phrases (giggles). It is a lot of fun, me and my friends enjoy these songs.

That’s very interesting, how are your parents like? What do they do?

Oh, my parents are amazing! My dad works at Delhi University in the horticulture department, and he’s really passionate about plants and gardens. It’s always fun to hear him talk about his work. My mom is a homemaker, she never got the opportunity to study in school so I teach her how to read Hindi. It’s a special bonding time for us, and it makes me happy to see her progress. And you know what? I even taught her how to do a signature! It’s a small thing, but it’s our little achievement together. Just yesterday she asked me “ mujhe English me bhi sign karna sikhado”, I love that can do these little things for her.

What are your goals and aspirations for the future in terms of your education and your passion?

Oh, I have so many goals and aspirations for my future! First and foremost, I aspire to become an IAS officer. I want to make a positive impact on society and contribute to the betterment of my country. I have another dream and passion that I would love to share. Besides becoming an IAS officer, I also have a deep desire to become a teacher.

I’m so inspired by this education centre and the impact it has on students’ lives. I dream of opening my own centre one day, where I can teach and help others in their educational journey. I want to have an inclusive space where anyone, regardless of their background, can come and join our classes. I particularly want to support mothers who couldn’t study when they were young, and I want to empower them through education. It’s a dream that fills my heart with joy and purpose, and I hope to make it a reality in the future.

Is there anything else that you want to share? Any other dreams or passions?

Yes, I also have a deep desire to travel the world and explore different cultures. Korea is a place I really want to visit because I’m fascinated by their culture. In fact, I dream of traveling abroad and showcasing my singing and dancing talents. It would be incredible to perform on an international stage and become famous. I want to be a K-pop star so that people from all around the world will know me. So many dreams to fulfil,I don’t think one life is enough to live all of them, but let me try living at least one of them with all my heart and hardwork.

*Name changed due to confidentiality concerns

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