Gandhiji’s Words and Actions are Alive on Campuses Even Today
Indian revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhiji was an advocate for a peaceful Indian independence movement at a time when independence and peace were not even used together in the same sentence. Using ahimsa, nonviolence, he was not only able to propel an entire nation to fight against British atrocities, but he also succeeded in helping both India and Pakistan gain their independence. October 2, 2011 is Gandhiji’s 142nd birthday. As this day draws closer, I wish to present a small example of this great man’s principles in action today. As a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, I see my fellow students trying to change the world everyday. Sit in our Pit, a student congregation spot, one afternoon and you can catch bhangra performances, poetry in motion, sometimes even with puppies and a sign advertising the local pet shelter. Every student here cares about something important. On a daily basis, I see my friends advocate against the death penalty (the recent execution of Troy Davis created an uproar on campus), raise money for UNC Children’s Hospital, or spread the message about the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship.
The Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship (MGF) is a student-run scholarship at UNC. Every year, members of Sangam, the largest South Asian awareness group on campus, work together to raise at least $6,000 to send two students to various countries including India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Over the course of the school year, both students plan civil service projects that they then implement over the summer. MGF aims to teach the community about the social problems that plague South Asia. The fellowship’s main goal is to inspire student awareness in South Asia. Past projects have included women’s empowerment in Gujarat as well as AIDS and HIV prevention education in India. MGF co-chairs, Fellows, and Sangam members work extremely hard throughout the year to raise awareness and funds to help South Asians.
Gandhiji said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” That is exactly what UNC students are trying to do. At this stage in our lives, we are trying to discover what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We are trying to leave our mark on the world, and MGF is a very valuable way of doing so. It teaches students the value of education through experience. Not only do students learn about research, project presentation, and fundraising, but MGF also gives youth with concrete ideas the opportunity to apply their ideas. Sangam’s members are constantly trying to raise money to go towards a $125,000 endowment fund that will guarantee this Fellowship for years to come by allowing new Fellows to be funded simply off the interest generated. Gandhiji’s quotes are seen on benches, cards, and photo frames. But I see them put into action everyday on my college’s campus. Indian-American youth have the fire to change what we see as wrong. We are asking for your help in this endeavor. If you would like to make a donation to the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship, please contact Sangam at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks addressed to the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship can also be mailed in to MGF, c/o Sangam, Box 5 CB#5210, Student Union UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.