The Magic of ICTD

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Before this summer, I was completely certain that after graduation I would work at a Silicon Valley startup, enjoying the benefits of free meals and a gym at work.  After participating in the iSTEP internship, I feel that many of these startups and tech companies make luxury products for a very thin slice of society, and that there are ways that technology, and the skills I will learn in the coming years, can be used for more meaningful and impactful change.  How did this change come about?  It was really the ICTD work I saw, experienced, and helped complete at the Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind.

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Airbrushing Memorials

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In high school, we had quite a few inspirational talks or assemblies. More often than not, these were based on the actions or thoughts of someone our age, who passed away long before his/her time. Now, I am not saying the morals of those talks were not worthwhile messages, because they were. “Spread happiness,” “give people a second chance,”and “live life with a smile” are all great messages. However, in conveying these morals, the presenter often portrayed the person he/she was trying to memorialize as a flawless individual with a great message that all of humanity should hear. Yet, is that truly an effective way to remember our loved ones? Are we lessening or potentially harming their memory by only epitomizing their good qualities? Continue reading

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If I Wrote a Book…

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One night, while reflecting on Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, I had a strange idea.  If I wrote a book, as the sole artifact the world would have to remember me by, what would its chapters be?  What would I deem important enough to tell the world, and how would I make it relevant?  That was the starting point of the below two pages, a brief summary of some of the chapters I would put into such a book.  Following Randy Pausch, I begin each lesson with an anecdote, and follow up with how that illustrates what I learned.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think! Continue reading

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To All Incoming College Freshman (Including Myself:)

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Relationships and GearsI heard a great quote by a friend’s dad last year, which I feel is extra pertinent now that I am going off to college (especially in terms of interacting with one’s roommate:)

“Good relationships must be fluid.  If one person can’t do something, the other has to step in, and vice-versa.  People must be willing to support each other, be there for each other, and fill each other’s gaps.  If the people are not fluid, the relationship will not work.”

I like to visualize this in terms of gears.  As long as there is enough oil, the gears work together in perfect unison.  But if the oil starts running out, friction builds up, and eventually the gears wear each other out to the point where they no longer work.

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Just in a Name?

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Hello, my name is...

I got my name not for its sound, not for its spelling, but for its meaning.  My mom woke up the morning I was due to a bright red sunrise, and decided to call me, or at least make my middle name, the Sanskrit word for red.

Those were the good old days, when parents picked their childrens’ names based on personal preference.  In those days, it didn’t really matter what someone was called.  A “James Smith” (the most common male name in the U.S. in 1990) was equal to an “Amal Nanavati.”  No one (except racists) judged people by their names, and there was no significant advantage to one name over another.

However, in today’s rapidly globalizing world, there is.   Continue reading

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Righties — Human Nature or Cultural Phenomena?

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We hear fun facts about lefties all the time.  Albert Einstein was a lefty.  Lefties tend to have a higher IQ than righties.  In fact, we talk of people’s dominant hand so objectively that we assume it is a trait people are born with.

However, are humans truly genetically coded to be more right-handed, or is it a cultural phenomenon? American society is definitely right-favoring.  We write left to right, making it difficult for lefties to see what they previously wrote.  We drive on the right side of the road, hold our right hand to our heart, teach the “Right Hand Rule” in Physics, and primarily make right-handed scissors.  Even linguistically our culture favors right: right means correct, whereas left comes from the Old English word left meaning “idle, weak, useless.”
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