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Abdul Kalam, This Week’s Siddhartha School Hero, asks Indian youth “What can you give?”

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” — AJP Abdul Kalam, this week’s Siddhartha School hero

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.” –A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Dear Friend,

When Stanzin Namgyal, Siddhartha School 7th grader first shared his sketch of Dr. AJP Abdul Kalam as his personal hero, I have to admit I did not recognize this famous defense engineer and 11th Prime minister of India. In fact, I’m embarrassed that I mistook the sketch at first glance for a portrait of a woman (I am always on the look out for the women role models that capture Siddhartha students attention.) Chuskit laughed at my mistake, and gently educated me on this remarkable and inspiring leader.

Many of our students like Chuskit and Stanzin with an interest in STEM—the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics stream—admire Kalam’s work in astrophysics. Kalam is referred to as the ‘Missile Man of India’ because his role in developing India’s defense capabilities is a great source of national pride.

Yet while Kalam’s role in establishing India’s defense power impresses aspiring young scientists, Stanzin and students like him are also moved by his commitment to young people. His motivational speeches to younger Indian generations inspired the “What Can I Give” movement. Kalam challenges Indian youth to ask themselves what they can do for their country, rather than what they can take from it.

Siddhartha School student volunteers cleaning up Stok Village in collaboration with a Global Family Travels tour last summer.

With your support our students and graduates are answering Dr. Kalam’s question, “what can I give?” with sensitivity and assurance.

I hope you will read the stories included in this newsletter about the great work Siddhartha graduates Chuskit and Angmo plan to do this summer and the inspired volunteer work that Siddhartha school students will do with Jennifer Spatz and her company, Global Family Travels, to beautify the school and clean up Stok village. Together we are changing lives and elevating our communities from Ladakh to Maine, and California to New Delhi.

With deep appreciation,

Laura Kozaitis
Executive Director
Siddhartha School Project USA

Siddhartha School Project Receives over $27,000 in Grant Funding!

The GO Campaign awards Siddhartha School $15,700 in funding to complete Water Project; The Neil Kreitman Foundation awards Siddhartha School $11,725 for the Music Program.

SSP is delighted to report that two foundations have granted the school funds for improvements this year, the Neil Kreitman Foundation supporting the school music program, and the GO Campaign supporting the school water project.

The GO Campaign ‘improves the lives of orphans and vulnerable children around the world by partnering with local heroes to deliver local solutions.’ SSP is honored to be selected as a GO partner in their mission. The GO Campaign grant closes the gap in fully funding the Siddhartha School Water Project scheduled for completion later this summer. Thanks to GO and all who have contributed to funding this critical improvement, we will dramatically improve health conditions for the children, beautify the campus, and undoubtedly lift the spirits of the entire community.

The Neil Kreitman Foundation continues to support Siddhartha School by making a generous gift to fully fund the Siddhartha School music Program for the coming year. This support will make it possible to hire a full time music teacher at the school skilled in Tibetan string and wind instruments. Principal Norla and teacher Tenzin Dhasey are interviewing candidates now with an eye toward finding a teacher passionate for exposing the children to a variety of musical styles through workshops, field trips, guest instructors, and a focus on producing another performance DVD in partnership with the Ladakh Arts and Media Association (LAMO). The students and staff are quite inspired by the Neil Kreitman Foundation’s gift of support and are now busy purchasing additional instruments and setting up a music room on the second floor of the main class room block. Plans are already underway for an all school performance for parents and local friends. We look forward to watching their progress on video together in future installments of the SSP newsletter.

Global Family Travelers with Siddhartha School student volunteers.

Learn, Serve, Immerse: Global Family Travels Partners with Siddhartha School

Siddhartha School staff and students volunteer with Global Family Travelers to clean up Stok village and beautify the school campus this summer.

Jennifer Spatz, long time Siddhartha School Project supporter and Lisa Blake, tireless SSP volunteer and tour leader, will be taking another Global Family Travels (GFT) trip to Stok this summer. Jennifer founded GFT to provide meaningful, socially engaged travel experiences to people seeking to ‘learn, serve, and immerse’ themselves in another culture. By engaging in village and campus clean up activities with Siddhartha School students, GFT participants collaborate with the school community, inspiring an international, intergenerational team of volunteers to keep Stok beautiful.

GFT tours, (which cover an array of destinations including India, China, Africa, Peru, and Turkey) are a wonderful way for families and friends to make a responsible contribution to the communities visited.

To learn more about GFT destinations, and the amazing Ladakh tours specifically, please visit these tour websites:

Ladakh: Learn, Serve, Immerse

Mystical Moments Spiritual tour to India

Siddhartha School Graduates Accepted into Prestigious Smith College Summer Program.

Stanzin Angmo (left) and Tsewang Chuskit (right) went to Smith College in early February with Sara Crisp and Laura Kozaitis to learn more about their summer program for girls interested in science and engineering. They will head to Northampton in July for the month long program.

“I’ve been hearing about Smith College from Khen Rinpoche since I was a little girl. This opportunity is a dream come true for us.”

–Stanzin Angmo, current junior at North Yarmouth Academy in Maine and Siddhartha School graduate

Hooray! We are delighted to report that Tsewang Chuskit​ and Stanzin Angmo​, the Siddhartha​ School graduates currently in the US to finish high school, have both been granted admission into the prestigious Summer Science and Engineering Program at Smith College. What is more, both girls have been awarded partial scholarships, and an exceptional opportunity to work with Dr. Leslie Jaffe. Dr. Jaffe teaches two courses: one looks broadly at women’s health and the other focusing on women in India, including Tibetan women living there in exile. Both Chuskit and Angmo wish to work in remote villages of Ladakh, providing medical care and health education. The girls will volunteer at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ for the month of June, before the Smith Program starts. Then they hope to return to Ladakh later in the summer (after the Smith program) to continue volunteering for the Himalayan Health Project’s Roy A. Kite Clinic in Leh. Long term they wish to start a girl to girl health education program in remote villages where even talking about menstruation can be taboo. Their dedication to volunteer service and their efforts to make the most out of their study abroad is commendable.

Former SSP board member John Marshall has a new book out on volunteering.

For anyone looking to experience the transforming power of international volunteering, including a unique look at our very own Khen Rinpoche and the Siddhartha School, pick up a copy of John Marshall’s new book Wide-Open World. John visited Ladakh with his wife and two teenage children as part of a six-month trip around the world where they volunteered their way from county to county. Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times Best Selling author of Orphan Train says, “Wide-Open World will move, engage and inspire you, even if you never leave the couch.”

“I’ve been a strong supporter of Khen Rinpoche’s since meeting him many years ago,” John says. “And I hope it comes across in the book how much I love and respect him. He certainly continues to inspire me and my family with his work and generous spirit.”

You can find Wide-Open World at your local book store or online wherever book are sold.

“What can you give?”
— Dr. AJP Kalam

Join supporters like Jennifer Spatz, John Marshall, and Doreen Thomson by helping a child in need of assistance towards tuition. Sponsor a child for $360 a year or give a one time gift of any amount to help keep Siddhartha School accessible to all families regardless of their economic circumstances. Jullay!

To donate by check, please make it payable to the Siddhartha School Project, PO Box 524, Freeport, ME 04032. To donate by stock or wire transfer, please email Laura Kozaitis for assistance. Thank you so much!

SSP can always use a hand stateside. If you are skilled at copy or video editing, proofreading, or social media, just send Laura an email for more details on how you can help. Thanks and Jullay!

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