director’s note: After 10 years of thinkpeace workshop we’ve been privileged to follow the journey of many girls as they blossom into women who are pursuing their interests and goals with determination, a bit of anxiety, and lots of talent! We want to share their stories with you here over the next few months… Each of these incredible women is just like you: compassionate, creative, and real.
I’m studying for my Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at the University of Plymouth. My degree focuses mainly on the social, cultural and political aspects of the built environment.
I have gained industry experience from conservation and heritage architects. I was fortunate enough to be involved in two built projects in the UK and get a taste of the technical aspects of this rather artistic field. As an intern in India, I surveyed Colonial structures and my fascination towards buildings reached a whole new level. I love the process of surveying and analysing buildings to a point where they speak to you about their histories. I have also travelled to Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Germany, and seeing the differing architectures in all these places also contributed to this greatly. Aside from academia, I learnt fencing during my first year, made some really good friends in the debate society, and managed to get my first job ever – as a cashier in the Student Union on my campus!
What interests me…
Whilst studying at Plymouth, my specific interest in architecture shifted from largely dynamic structural based architecture to a more contextually grounded design approach. Growing up in Post-Colonial India, city planning and development hasn’t been prioritised as a result of many other, deeply rooted social issues, in addition to the trauma of India’s history- something that is rarely talked about and practically never dealt with. I think with countries that are going through such a drastic economic change, the issue of past collective trauma (along with memory and our remembrances) needs to address in the Urban Framework. Designers and Planners HAVE to think about the human aspects of what is being built. Learning from the history of mass displacement caused by the India-Pakistan partition, we have to think about the mass trauma being inflicted today in places such as Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. I believe urban interventions in these zones can spark a conversation towards peaceful settlements. Refugee camps are not “temporary” settlements anymore. They have established a spatial presence and we need to consider that presence; truly listen to what it wants to be.
To sum up, I am interested in a mixture of critical theory in spatial conflict along with urban design processes in contested territories. I want to contribute towards the Humanitarian Urban that has come about as a result of mass displacement. I still have at least 5 years until I can call myself a registered architect and I look forward to gaining more experience in the industry, to travel, and to read.
What I learned at 15, when I first attended thinkpeace camp…
You certainly shouldn’t underestimate yourself and your voice. I think it’s important to value your thoughts and your presence in the world. You must be aware of what the world is going through, don’t be afraid to be political, opinionated or even wrong now and then. The thinkpeace camp in Berlin enabled me to feel so motivated and empowered to contribute and make a positive impact on the society I am living in. The friendships I made there and the people I met have all encouraged me to believe the good that exists in the world. I look forward to meeting the girls again.
What I have learned to value about myself…
This is a difficult one… I think I’m passionate and determined to achieve what I set my mind to. I think that over the past few years I’ve learned to value my time the most. This includes who I spend it with, who I surround myself with, what I prioritise, etc. Lastly, I know that I’m really hardworking and driven and I want to use it to make a positive impact on the world today, in some shape or form.
21 year old me would recommend thinkpeace camp because…
Attending the thinkpeace camp in Berlin was one of my best summers! I was introduced to so many empowered women that do so much good in the world. I was especially fascinated by the work Shanon Galpin does in Afghanistan. I felt so inspired and lucky to have met her. I took these ideas back to India with me where my friends and I organised a cycling rally to raise money for the education of underprivileged girls. Apart from all the learning we do, the thinkpeace camp is such an amazing mix of cultures. I loved having different cuisines for dinner every night! 21-year-old me would recommend thinkpeace camp simply because we need kindness, compassion, and peace now more than ever. The world needs its next generation to be open-minded, to be aware and to have empathy.
I just completed my Junior year studying Biological Sciences concentrating in marine at Cornell University.
So far, I have been a D1 varsity athlete, head tutor for all biology classes, researched with the world’s leading marine ecologists, and traveled to amazing places like Hawai’i. Wow! My first year as a college undergrad I was rowing against the best athletes in the States. But I found my life was taking a different direction, so I left athletics behind and focused on my academic journey. I really knew my science and this led to my position as head tutor for all introductory biology classes at Cornell. My favorite class to teach was a cell biology class and I realized this is what I was meant to study. Combining molecular and marine science I am forging my own research path to meld these two different research paths into one. This decision has landed me insane research experiences such as copepod sensory behavior/fluid dynamics, virulence changes in various seastars, microbial role in pathogen defense, and even new methodology for localizing whales! My career ambition or dream job:
My dream job…
My dream job isn’t to work for a huge research lab or to live a cushioned lifestyle. My dream job is to be a successful and happy doctorate researcher. I know now that everything in this life has a way of working itself out, and no matter where I end up or what I end up researching I want to be happy doing it. I believe very strongly that I have a great future ahead of me, and I want to ensure that I stick to my childhood dream of adding new knowledge to our society. Given the current political climate, it is frustrating to be a scientist and have the world not believe in good science. But I view this challenging time as an opportunity to push beyond what is known and be the best scientist I can possibly be.
What I wish I’d known at 11, when I first came to tpw camp that I know now…
When I was 11, it was tough to be myself. My passions and interests were not always cool, and I often felt alone in my desire to better the world. In that environment, it is extremely easy to succumb to others’ expectations or get wrapped up in the nonsensical things in life. I would tell my 11-year-old self that “being cool” means nothing if I am not happy, follow my dreams and my passions and always stay true the person I know I am. I will grow along the way and change my beliefs but change is not a bad thing, just a hard thing. The world needs more people open to change and true to themselves and that is who you will be.
What I’ve learned to value about myself…
I’ve learned that being a scientist does not mean to only have great research ideas. Being a scientist means writing powerful proposals to get the necessary funding for brilliant ideas, it means communicating scientific jargon colloquially to the public, and in this trying time, being a scientist means being a leader. Now more than ever, science is challenged by people unwilling to accept change (even when the world is on fire). Our world is dying and there is no time to waste. So, in the last 10 years I have learned to not pick one my of my attributes but to “supercharge” them all and go into the world with everything I have to offer.
21 year old me would recommend thinkpeace camp because…
In a town filled with one type of person, one line of thinking, and one expectation it was a relief to attend Thinkpeace and meet diverse girls who were just as passionate and wanting a better world like me. Thinkpeace was a chance for me to get outside the nonsensical bubble and open my heart and soul to the rest of the world. It was truly the first time I ever thought seriously about the hardships and varying lifestyles globally. Since thinkpeace, I am continuing my journey to discover, create, share and live. I certainly have a long way to go, but thinkpeace lit the fire that has turned into a flame.
After high school…
After receiving my degree in Arts Management from MCLA, I went on to Empire State College to pursue my Master’s in Community and Economic Development, with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship. Before college, I interned at a law firm in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY. Once in college, I interned for a talent agency based out of Los Angeles. From there I interned for DownStreet Art, where I put on monthly community-building events showcasing local talent.
Throughout my internships, I also worked in restaurants as a hostess and a server, which I believe everyone should do once! It’s a humbling experience that taught me a lot about time management, valuable social skills, and to always have empathy when I am the one being served in a restaurant.
Currently I’m working as the Director of Marketing at an up and coming real estate agency in Saratoga, which is actually an agency born from the law firm where I had my first internship! Can you say full circle?!
Career ambition or dream job?
My career ambition is in real estate development. I’ve always believed one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and my dream is to take broken, abandoned homes and restore them to their former glory. Think Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper! I think if more people took the time to fix things that are broken, rather than turning a blind eye in favor of something “shiny and new,” it would have an incredible impact on the community.
Advice from an older thinkpeace girl:
When I first came to thinkpeace camp at age 12, I didn’t know that it is okay to wholeheartedly and shamelessly embrace whatever your talents and passions are. Don’t disregard things that you are good at because you think “everyone can do this, it’s not really a talent” because that’s just simply untrue. Never be afraid to do something that sets you apart from others, because those things that make you “different” are your gift to the world.
What I’ve learned to value about myself:
My passion for creating, my innovation, my entrepreneurial nature, and my ability to not take myself so seriously.
When I was younger, I got in trouble at school for things like painting my jeans in art class to make them more unique or trying to set up a sneaky-postal business where I would charge people a penny to facilitate note passing in class. While those things admittedly may not have always been appropriate in class, these are the skills I have carried with me into adulthood, and I look back now, with confidence in who I am as a woman and smile thinking “I’ve always had this in me.”
23-year-old me reflecting on my thinkpeace camp experience:
I think learning to be a strong woman in this world and learning FROM strong women is the most important thing. Growing up, I never thought for a second that a woman couldn’t do anything she put her mind to, and I credit a lot of that to thinkpeace.
One of my favorite memories from my life is the thinkpeace talent show. All the “good” talents were taken (dancing, singing, gymnastics), so in my effort to be unique, I just ate an onion raw like an apple. As ridiculous as my performance was, my thinkpeace family, embraced that talent as if I had just juggled fire. That’s when I learned that every single talent is special, and in turn, so was I. We were ALL winners that day.
I AM FOREVER A THINKPEACE GIRL! ❤