This is a guest post from Sunisha Ahuja, Room to Read's Country Director for India (pictured).
The excitement was palpable when we reached the MCD Andrews Ganj Primary School, with dozens of children sitting on the floor of the library, poised to meet their special guest. The room had been buzzing since the day began—after all, a visit from a U.S. Ambassador is not something that happens every day!
“We are very excited that the ambassador has come to visit our school today,” said Abhilasha, one of the library's facilitators. “The children have been preparing for her visit for two days and learning new poems.”
Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Government’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, is one of the most high-profile visitors the school has ever seen, and the children were eager to show her what they had learned. Her visit—the result of an emerging partnership between Room to Read and the U.S. government—started off with a traditional Indian welcome, where she was greeted with flowers and a song, sung by the school’s 1st grade class.
After the welcome, one 5th grader, Sachin, read a book aloud to the ambassador about the power of friendship. It was the guest’s turn next. Selecting an English-language book from the library, Ambassador Verveer read to her hosts, with a student volunteer translating each page into Hindi as she read—an exciting experience for the children who had never before witnessed such an interaction.
“India is going to celebrate Independence Day soon,” Kiran, a 5th grader, shared with the ambassador. “I am drawing children flying kites!”
“Do you want to be an artist when you grow up,” asked the ambassador. Kiran nodded enthusiastically.
Ambassador Verveer then met with 10 of our Girls' Education program scholars. “I had never imagined that I could become an engineer one day,” said Bharati, who was recently admitted to a graduate computer science program at a college in New Delhi.
“If I wasn’t here today, I would be married,” shared Shweta, another one of the girls, whose aspirations now include starting her own business—a dream she's had since participating in an entrepreneurial skill development workshop through our program.
Ambassador Verveer had one final question for the girls, “What is the biggest change that you notice in yourselves today?”
A few spoke up immediately: “We are confident and able to speak to you,” they shared, adding, “we never imagined that we would meet someone like you.”
More photos from the Ambassador’s visit: