A freshman at the University of California Berkeley, Amodini Choudhary is a recent graduate from the American School of Dubai pursuing an undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology, French, and Education. "I like to think that a diverse array of subjects can be just as valuable as a focused set," she explains.
With extracurricular credentials that include having worked with KHDA, Dubai Future Foundation/Dubai Future Councils, the International Positive Education Network – Positive Education Accelerator (IPEN–WPEA), and the Middle East Youth Expo, the 18-year-old also enjoys playing badminton team, rock climbing and volunteering.
Excerpts from an interview:
Tell us about projects you worked on.
I attended IPEN–WPEA, a week-long conference in Dallas in 2018, on behalf of KHDA. There, I helped run workshops and spoke to audiences, while learning from [psychologist] Martin Seligman and others, which served to solidify my understanding of the field. In 2019, I helped lead the first Dubai Student Wellbeing Summit. I later served as the Grassroots Ambassador for Education & Training at the Middle East Youth Expo in Abu Dhabi and joined the Dubai Future Council of Education under Dubai Future Foundation, as the only student and youngest member. In my second two-year term on the council, we are working to forecast and help build the future of education in Dubai.
How did you get the opportunity to work on these diverse platforms?
It started when I was in grade 6 with my principal at the time, Dr Lalonde. We had worked to reinvent our student-led conference model, our middle school’s student profile, e-portfolios, and more. I worked with him throughout middle school, even participating in a What Works KHDA event in 2016. When I was in grade 9, I was offered an opportunity by KHDA to travel to Texas for a meet. I learned of the Appreciative Inquiry Model and set my heart on running a similar conference in Dubai (I eventually would). Through people I met at Dallas, I was invited to be an author for Re:Set Fest, the Ambassador for Education at MEYE2020, and got the idea to apply for the Dubai Future Council on Education.
Any other projects?
I also helped a good friend bring her project Entrepeureka! to life. It’s a student-run platform that hosted an entrepreneurship opportunity amid the pandemic, which continues to expand its team and ventures globally. I also co-hosted the first Dubai Wellbeing Summit in 2019, and helped curate a part of KHDA’s 2021 Virtual Wellbeing Conference. Every small step contributed to my next project or venture.
Your advice to students?
If something seems interesting, pursue it. Look out for small things – be aware, and take the initiative. I applied for what at the time was "Dubai FutureNauts" through a link promoted on KHDA’s Twitter, and it turned out to be the Dubai Future Council on Education – a treasured experience and membership. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to network, and remember – gratitude can get you a long way in life.
What were the biggest takeaways from these experiences?
I’ve learned you truly cannot have progress or education without diverse opinions which stem from different backgrounds. It is beyond critical to inquire about, be open to, and appreciate thoughts and ideas that may differ from our own. Being able to contribute not only your opinion but also how your opinion builds upon others’ is invaluable. Surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you in a positive manner, remind you to be aware, and invite you to question - in a safe environment - what you believe, learn and naturally think, is beyond important.
Why Science, French, and Education?
I’ve always enjoyed the sciences, because I find that they allow for as much curiosity as one has - questions are encouraged, not looked at as a nuisance. Participating in an online, 4-week summer research course at Brown University only furthered my interest. As for the other subjects, I’ve always loved learning languages – and speak multiple.
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