At just 14, Vani Sharma is using her unique cultural heritage to spread this message to her peers: just be yourself.
We sat down and talked to Vani about what “just being yourself” means, and how her own story as a first generation Indian American has shaped her incredible mindset on embracing all parts of your unique self. Truly, sitting and speaking with her filled us with great energy and enthusiasm. Vani has a powerful message to share with us all and the coolest part is that she is living out that message through person-to-person connection. We are all about that at Patchwork.
It hasn’t always been easy. Vani shares, “I have seen people treated differently because of the way they look or speak.” “But I stay determined.” (Vani also stays grounded; she regularly practices meditation and mindfulness). “I have recognized how coming from a different background is special.” As we talk with Vani, we learn how it has given her a unique perspective and a deep understanding of the different facets of our identity that make each of us who we are.
Vani credits her parents with inspiring her to embrace traditions within her Indian-American heritage. “I have been dancing for about eight to nine years now, both Bollywood Dance and Indian Classical Dance.” Vani has recently won the International United Miss pageant Preteen where she combined both art forms to create a unique dance performance. We love how Vani has fused different parts of her upbringing together in order to express herself in a way that is totally her own. We are so behind that at Patchwork.
One of the other things we love about Vani, is that she is determined to better her local AND global community. In Greater Indy, Vani has started her own platform called E.A.S.E. which stands for Educate, Achieve, Smile, and Empower. Through E.A.S.E., Vani seeks to spread the joy of community involvement while “embracing your unique self” with school-aged children. In her global community, Vani is reaching back across to impact an orphanage in India. Vani has already arranged a donation drive to support the orphanage and those who suffered losses during extreme flooding.
She recognizes the good work to be done here in greater Indy. She knows that the good work does not stop here. She shows us through her actions that service knows no limits. Doing good here and there is possible and Vani holds the right posture to do both.
We asked Vani for a closing message she would like to share with the community. With a humongous and genuine smile, Vani says, “You matter. You are enough, just the way you are.”
We are excited Vani will participate in our November 13th Beautiful Paradox Event! Join us then.