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Past Interns

Amanda Grayson
University of Michigan '17
Upon arriving at Ankuri I was immediately blown away by the welcoming generosity of Rachna, as well as the stunning beauty of the surrounding foothills of the Himalayas that Ankuri's buildings are nestled in. The 5 weeks I spent teaching the energetic kids in Ankuri's literacy center, working on the websites, interviewing the women knitters, and building Ankuri's social media were some of the most challenging but rewarding ones of my life. Each day sharing home cooked delicious meals with the other two passionate Michigan interns and Rachna, we learned a great deal from Rachna's extensive knowledge and wisdom on many topics. Our discussions on everything from non-profit work to politics to religion to society gave me insight into my culture as well as the very different culture we were working in. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity I had to meet the inspirational women of Ankuri and the entire experience has left as deep an impression on me as the hot Indian sun did on my skin.

Faridah Laffan
Princeton University'18
The thing I was not expecting about working at Ankuri's literacy centre was the utter enthusiasm the kids have for learning. They make their way to the centre around 3 every day, some walking for around 40 minutes to get there, and they have an eagerness that I just don't remember my peers and I having when we were little. They refer to me, Ify, and Cici as "Didi"- "older sister," and do their utmost to finish their work fast and well, to compete with one another in games like charades and celebrity head, simply to please. There is a lot to like about living here- the property's beautiful, the air's fresh, the food we eat is delicious and homemade. Rachna herself is a force of nature, full of the wisdom, kindness, wit and good solid common sense necessary to run a program as multi-faceted as Ankuri's. But of all the things to miss about my internship here in Dehradun, I'll miss the children and their energy, curiosity, and sheer goodwill the most.

Ify Ikpeazu
Princeton University '18
My first job at ANKURI was to organize and take stock of an inventory of products that had been piling up for over fifteen years. Initially, Rachna gave us instructions on how to categorize the clothes without saying much. However, as heaps of cabled sweaters, bright scarves, and color-blocked beanies accumulated and our Excel sheet filled up, Rachna filled us in. She spoke of her dreams for ANKURI: dreams for the product line, dreams for the centers, and most importantly dreams for the women and children. Her passion and vision blew me away, but not before it manifested itself in me. At ANKURI, I found direction when I reviewed pronouns with the kids, when I listened to women who felt empowered enough not only to offer gratitude for the organization but also to give candid suggestions, and when I worked with the other Princeton interns on anything from coding to branding to painting. I still don't know how to offer my gratitude for all the lessons interning at ANKURI taught me, but today I will start with "dhanyavaad."

Luna Anne Archey
University of Michigan '17
The main project we have worked on together is creating a book telling the stories of a few of the one hundred knitters that work for Ankuri. The connections and parallels that we have drawn between the knitters and the own women in our lives has helped to bring solidity to our knowledge of the culture. Blindly walking past the small houses and “namaste”-ing our way through encounters could never have fostered the solidarity I now feel with the women in these small villages. For them, knitting and working has brought peace of mind, talent, craftsmanship, and pride, along with financial freedom. I respect the conditions and the society that they have grown up in, and how they are molding into independent women within them.
Cecilia Shang
Princeton University '18

I was drawn to Ankuri because of its multi-faceted approach to rural village development and its focus on empowering women. However, as a first-time intern, I did not expect to be given the opportunity, flexibility and trust to learn and work in such diverse tasks, including teaching, web/graphic design, conducting surveys, managing social media, creating inventories, and building literacy resources such as flashcards. I would not have guessed how effectively teaching a grammar lesson or a dance routine to ‘Dancing Queen’ in the literacy center could have me gradually (and then overwhelmingly all at once) falling in love with so many brilliant children. I could never have known the passion, empathy, and capability of Rachna, the heart and spine of Ankuri, who acted throughout our internship less as a boss and more as a supervisor-mentor-mother-role model-coach. I did not imagine the reality of my summer internship would consist of waking up daily to the mist-shrouded Himalayan foothills, of mealtime conversations over dosas, dokhlas, and mango which taught me things lectures and textbooks simply cannot, and of being inspired and humbled by interactions with all the women and children who collectively form Ankuri’s wonderful community.