– by Rubi Balami
Imagine being able to speak 8 languages. Imagine traveling all over the world to teach. Imagine being able to play multiple instruments and recording your own music album. Now imagine doing all this despite not being able to see. The mentor we met recently, Ceinwen King Smith, does not have to imagine this because it is her life story. Despite not being able to see since birth, she has not allowed that fact to hinder her aspirations. Instead, she was determined to achieve her goals and make a difference in her life and the lives of many. She is now a singer, a social worker, and a world-traveling language expert. We were honored that she took some time to share her story with the Rukmini Scholars as part of a mentoring program to help the girls to build their own self-esteem and confidence. Ceinwein bonded with us by sharing the stories of her struggles to receive education and opportunities as a blind woman. She shared not only her stories of hard work and determination but also shared laughter, songs, and music.
Ceinwen sat among us and talked to us Bahinis (scholars / younger sisters) about how her parents supported her immensely and encouraged her endeavors to education and career. They opened a school where children of all backgrounds including but not limited to disabled and minority children had access to proper education and support. Serving as teachers, they inspired and fueled Ceinwen’s determination, enabling her to pursue her goals. Her fight and desire for education was something we the Rukmini Foundation Bahinis related to.
Ceinwen talked to us about how studying Latin in high school started her journey towards her love of languages. She also shared a story about how while in high school, she had started learning Russian but she was rejected by the Russian language teacher because of her blindness. However, Ceinwen was too determined and eager to learn and so she did not let this discourage her. She worked hard and her progress in exams became proof that she was a hardworking and gifted language learner. Today, Ceinwen is fluent in Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian and Portuguese. The prejudice she received due to her disability also hindered her opportunities to teach language in public schools but with her unwavering determination, she embarked on a decade-long struggle to be allowed to teach. This story Ceinwin really resonated with us Bahinis; a shining example of strong resolve and resolution towards education and personal success. Her story sparkled inspiration among the Bahinis to be strong and hardworking, to not be discouraged by obstacles but to succeed by overcoming them.
While learning all the languages was a difficult process in her life, Ceinwin’s skill also rewarded her with the freedom to pursue more education and world travel. From attending Harvard University in the USA, Warsaw University in Poland, and to visiting China, Honduras, and Brazil to teach English; Ceinwen has done it all. This journey eventually brought her to us in Nepal, teaching us English through music and songs; teaching us hard work and determination by sharing her stories and her interests. Her yearning for education and her determination resonated with us Bahinis, reminding us of our own dreams and ambition to better ourselves and spread a positive message into the world. She encouraged us with the story of her career journey and put emphasis on having goals and careers when we follow our interest. To choose our goals with honesty and to pursue them with positive determination, to not give up our dreams to social pressure. Ceinwen is a testimony of how hard work, patience, and commitment brings rewards for our goals.
Our time with Ceinwen not only inspired us to strive for what we want but also to utilize our skills to help others. For Ceinwen, teaching became her tool to contribute to the global community. She has been a teacher of languages like English, Russian and Chinese over the past few decades. She is an active global volunteer, spreading her knowledge to help girls and youth flourish and become capable global citizens themselves. Ceinwen is a shining example that shows hard work, determination and education help us achieve our goals. Having her as our Didi for the day, we came out inspired, smiling and determined. We are grateful we had the opportunity to have Ceinwen as our mentor for Didi Program. Many thanks to Rukmini Foundation and Ceinwen for this wonderful program.