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Home » The Transformative Power of Belonging: Vedika Agarwal (Transcript) 

The Transformative Power of Belonging: Vedika Agarwal (Transcript) 

Here is the full transcript of Vedika Agarwal’s talk titled “The Transformative Power of Belonging” at TEDxYouth@KCHigh 2023 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Power of Belonging

What is the first word you learn in a foreign language? Go ahead, think about it. It may be hello, goodbye, thank you, please. For me, it was a Tamil word, “Vandi.”

Even though I was born and brought up in Chennai, I grew up in a privileged bubble of my own. I didn’t speak a word of Tamil, the native language of my birthplace, and yet foreign to me. I had such a deep sense of belonging to my hometown that once I graduated college, I actually moved back to Chennai instead of pursuing a career anywhere else in the world. And like any other fresher, I was excited and hopeful to begin my purposeful journey.

When I was volunteering in college, I had met hundreds of marginalized children from extremely difficult backgrounds. And this experience burst that bubble of privilege, and 18-year-old me figured out that working in low-income communities was my life’s purpose. So once I moved back to Chennai, I applied for a role in a public school where I was assigned as the class teacher to 25 second graders.

On the first day, 7-year-old Swati came running up to me, repeatedly whispering this word, “Vandi.” And before I could even Google it, she had made it clear. Within moments, my feet were covered in Swati’s vomit.

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