My parents often tell me that as a child, I was impossible to keep still when there was music. I was known to make center stage of wherever I was, and I danced everywhere I could.

Rukmini Scholars dance to their own beat.

A decade and four continents away from childhood, as I looked through the pictures of Rukmini Foundation’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration, a memory rekindled in the back of my mind. A memory of myself in bright red dress dancing center stage and a feeling that embraced me like an old friend.

The pictures of IWD celebration has captured Rukmini scholars dancing to different choreographed tunes, singing out loud about the strength of girls and women and putting out an inspiring play on social issues. In these pictures, I witnessed girls of various age and women in the community come together to encourage and celebrate each other by taking the stage.

Dancing with confidence

They are confident not only in themselves, but they actively and tirelessly empower those around them. These scholars are not simply learning from their textbooks, but are also learning about their world and its struggles. Moreover, they are supporting and encouraging each other to rise through life challenges by taking center stage together. As they sing and dance together, they are both learning and teaching each-other support, confidence, and comradery. These pictures before me kindled the same feeling in me as my memory.

Upon closer inspection, I realize that this is the feeling of empowerment. Although I have since developed a healthy dose of stage-fright, the sense of empowerment I had as a child fumbling on stage to dance my heart out stayed with me as integral part of my identity. It encouraged me to chase all dreams and supported me while I conquered my challenges.

Today, as I take this small stage with my words, I do so with a renewed sense of empowerment. I have been given this opportunity to not only observe the empowerment and growth stories of our scholars, but also to help share their experiences with the world. I hope to; through my words and their stories; empower many other, just as the Rukmini scholars have empowered me.

Tomorrow, I will take dance lessons anew.

Pallavi


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