Sarina and Philipp, two students from the Catholic University of Freiburg have spent a better part of the last few months working with our team in Nepal. Of the many experiences they have enjoyed, the traditional festival of Holi was a fun way for them to get immersed in the culture of Nepal. As Sarina and Philipp were new to Nepal, the area of Pharping and to the program this was a great introduction. The program involved 30 Rukmini Scholars as well as foundation staff and staff from our partner organization, ASC.

Phillip and Sarina from Germany

Philip and Sarina – our interns from Germany who are currently in Pharping helping with our program.

This was not only a great opportunity for Philip and Sarina to learn more about the traditions of Nepal, but it was also an opportunity for the scholars to learn about another culture and to understand what life in Germany is like. The interns first discussed their family, school, and daily life in Germany, as well as some aspects of their culture. This helped familiarize the Rukmini students with their background. The girls were very curious to learn about Germany and were shown photographs of Sarina’s and Philipp’s lives.

After this introduction, the German Interns began to implement some of the activities they had planned as part of the Rukmini Foundation Didi Program initiative. The Didi program is a way for mentors (foundation staff, older students, role models, etc.) to teach, counsel, inspire, provide support the Rukmini Scholars. Not only do the scholars benefit from this, but the mentors also benefit greatly from the responsibility and leadership of this position. With mentors like Sarina and Philip, the girls get to develop friendships with successful older students who are relatively close to their age. In Nepal, we are used to learning from those that are much older than us, but we are trying to show that there is much we can learn from each other, even at a younger age. Having the mentors be closer to the age of the scholar allows them to really understand the unique struggles and concerns of these young girls even if they are from a very different country and culture.

busy scholars

The scholars create a friendship poster with guidance from Sabrina.

The first part of the program was a “painting by nature” art project, where the pigments used were made using natural materials. The interns wanted to encourage an appreciation for the organic rather than chemical products through this project. The girls searched for ash and earth to create black and brown pigments, which they applied to their hands. Each of the girls placed their hands on a poster to leave an imprint. This eventually formed a circle of hands, representing their new friendship with Philipp and Sarina and their ongoing friendships with each other. The center of the poster was inscribed with the word “friends” and then decorated with flowers, grains of rice, and Holi colors.

Didi Pramila paints Bahini Sadikshya KC's face

Pramila Rukmini Staff and Didi decorates a scholar’s face with colorful paints.

After completing the poster, which the girls seemed to thoroughly enjoy, the students and staff continued with the rest of the Holi festival. Everyone had a wonderful time participating in Holi by throwing colors, painting each other’s faces, and splashing each other with water. With all this excitement, it was inevitable that the girls would start dancing, and of course, Sarina and Philipp had to join in. By the end of the day, everyone was dripping wet and filled with great memories.Sarina and Philipp would like to thank the girls and the staff of ASC for the wonderful experience, and we would like to thank them for their work on the Didi initiative.

colors are beautiful

Happy Holi!! The team celebrates the Holi festival by throwing colors.

About Shruthi Shankar

Shruthi is a junior neuroscience major at the University of Pittsburgh, and is pursuing certificates in Global Health and the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. She is excited to be a part of Rukmini because she is interested in the intersection between women’s health, rights, and education. Throughout the next several years, Shruthi will be supporting Rukmini’s various community events, as well as raising awareness of South Asian women’s issues within the Pitt campus by coordinating the foundation of a Pitt Rukmini club. Shruthi hopes that her work here helps pave the way so that a girl’s education is no longer seen as a privilege, but as a right.
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