Let’s choose our path of learning, where learning is fun, genuine, where our degrees don’t matter but our skill and dedication does. – Radhika Gupta
Radhika Gupta is a 16-year-old Education Activist from Uttar Pradesh. She is an enthusiastic YouTuber, dedicated and empathetic person who believes in providing quality and hands-on learning opportunities to impoverished children. She organizes educational field trips and after-school events for the students, emphasizing the significance of both instruction and experience learning. She organized non-competitive games in government schools to promote team spirit.
She has been instructing and providing a variety of useful content for young children through her YouTube channel named, “An & Ra.” Her channel has already reached 12000 views and has educated over 1200 students. Likewise, she hosts interviews with various teenagers and features their inspirational stories on her YouTube channel.
Radhika is now inspiring thousands of young people to be the change they want to see through her work. Her work and initiative has reached thousands of people. Thus, today she has been featured by Hindustan Times about her life journey.
Radhika is a passionate believer who believes in the power of dreams, visualizes goals, and works hard to attain them. Radhika sees herself as a hard-working lady who wants to help people grow and learn at all stages of their lives. Her work motivates young people to make a difference. Her enthusiasm and dedication to making a difference in society has recognized her as the finalist of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero India 2021. We had a few conversations with her regarding her projects;
How was your experience when you were announced as a Top 6 Finalist of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero India, 2021?
Very overwhelmed and grateful to be selected in the top 6 finalists. I was out when my father received the call from the Glocal Team. I was delighted when my father called me from home and told me about the results. At first, I couldn’t believe it, it took time for the thought to sink in that I am selected among the top 6 finalists.
It is an honour to be selected under the top 6 finalists of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero India 2021. This motivates me to work with more dedication and zeal. I feel very acknowledged and accepted.
What inspired you to work in the sector of education and children?
I was taking a stitching class with 4-5 village girls in a village named “Basaha”. I was very impressed by their hunger and fire to prove themselves. One of the girls there, “Archana,” said to me smilingly, “Let them say what they want to, one day my work will do all the talking. Main Kuch ban kar dikahoongi (I will become something and show them one day)”. And that wasn’t an arrogant command rather a passionate thought.
The spark in her eyes was infectious and till date, I have not forgotten that. Suddenly, while talking we had to take measurements, we had to divide 10” by 2” which she was unable to calculate, I said it’s “5”. I told her if she has problems with calculations, she can use a calculator. She didn’t know how to use it, that got me thinking. She was in the 11th grade studying in an English medium school, her parents were trying their best to send the four sisters and one brother to school but she wasn’t naturally learning anything.
Ongoing home and discussing this with my father, we concluded that there is a need for a practical approach towards learning. There are resources, but there is a lack of understanding and initiation. There is mugging up and that resulted in a lack of learning. I was fortunate enough to be an experiential learner where I got to live and experience my learning practically. But I wanted Archana to be one too, and for that matter I wanted every kid to be an experiential and organic learner.
The children these days are being conditioned in such a way that they are becoming just another brick in the wall, the uniqueness and spark are somewhere lost in them.
That’s when I started organising field trips for village children for the real understanding of different topics which brings spark and curiosity in them; where they start thinking different and unique; where their vision to “dream” not just becomes a “wish” but a “goal”.
What made you decide to create a YouTube channel? What kind of obstacles did you encounter along the way?
We, as teenagers, my brother and I, watched plenty of videos on YouTube. The videos didn’t help us if we wanted them to. Due to Covid, we couldn’t organise education field trips. Now everyone, even in the remotest of villages, people have access to YouTube.
After not being able to find content for teens, we started thinking about the idea to create content and invite experienced teenagers from their specific fields. This channel would not only have educational material but also help a teen holistically. The teenage guest speakers on our channel will also feel acknowledged and validated when they are interviewed and we get to learn from their journeys.
This was initiated during Covid times and I feel proud that we could use this period to our best. By creating a platform to learn and share for our fellow teens. We have over 12000 views on our channel.
It’s difficult to convince people to talk to us, share their experiences. We email and reach out to many people whom we feel can add value to our channel. Out of 20 people, 1 agrees to record an interview. Since we are in the beginning phase people are also not that open.
Recording, Editing, Sharing and then following up with the guest speakers on email, is a demanding process but we have started to enjoy it.
What kind of content do you create and upload on your YouTube channel “An & Ra”?
We create meaningful content for teenagers, we record interviews with teenagers who have a story to tell or an experience to share, which could go down motivating and inspiring many other fellow teenagers out there. The concept of the channel is “For the teens and by the teens”.
We have had multiple teenager guest speakers on our channel, a Yale summer school student from Brazil, an MIT LaunchX student from India, a UWC applicant from Pakistan, a UWC ISAK student from Nepal, a Social Content creator with over 200,000 followers who also attended Harvard and Berklee school of music, an IIT student, a teen musician, a mountaineer who submitted Mt.Everest in 2019 etc.
When we interview the teenagers in some way, they also feel motivated and validated and we get to learn a lot from their stories, so this is a win-win for all.
What kinds of programs do you initiate to encourage children to exhibit their creativity?
We organise educational field trips for children and take them out to different places like the Red-FM office, science centre, air force station, theatre shows. We organised different sessions like a storytelling session, a chatting session with a magician who shared his life journey.
The experts share their experiences and life journey. We get to know how passionately one follows his/her path, how the world is open and welcoming, how certificates and marks don’t show much importance when it comes to living life. One RJ shared how she without a degree became an RJ.
We get to know what actually goes behind the profession. That sparks a sense of curiosity for learning and life among children, which thereafter motivates them to pursue their passion or interest.
What are the plans that you are planning to execute in the upcoming days?
In the coming days, I plan to organise more trips, I plan to take more children to places for educational trips, and create a community for open learners in the villages through which we spread true and genuine learning.
Every city is a learning resource in itself, be it local artisians, local industry, ancient architecture or people on the road. I see each city is full of knowledge and I plan to use these resources for local children. I really appreciate the idea of “VOCAL FOR LOCAL”. This way we can recognize our own city as resourceful rather than going to metro cities to make a living.
Also, I will continue to post interviews on my YouTube channel and be the platform for sharing experiences and stories among teenagers.
What message would you like to deliver to teenagers?
We are in a very beautiful period of our lives; these are our formative years and the building blocks of our life. I believe from here itself, we should give our life a proper direction, which leads us to happiness and contentment.
Let’s be compassionate towards society and be the change ourselves and not expect things from society. Learning can happen beyond schools and let’s go beyond our classrooms, learn, experiment and explore. We all have the ability, let’s find our forte and work on it. Let’s take risks and make our own path. I, as a homeschooler, have lived the path less travelled and tried to carve out a new path of learning, which is based upon experiential learning.
Let’s choose our path of learning, where learning is fun, genuine, where our degrees don’t matter but our skill and dedication does. I believe we should all motivate and help each other to carve out our own unique way of life.
With my experiences through travel and talking to different people, I have observed that the world is beautiful and open, it’s just up to us to take that one step.
Glocal Teen Hero is a platform for teenagers to identify and honor outstanding teenagers whose creativity, commitment, experience, and strong leadership have helped them achieve success in an increasingly challenging environment. This award recognizes and honors the exceptional teen whose work is sustainable and who can think out of the box addressing the issues and creating an impact in society. Fostering a collaborative community among recipients and strengthening the recognition of today’s young leaders is a primary goal of the Glocal Teen Hero Award.