NISHA- marketing social values team, student, journalist and frequent public speaker 

“ I was given a life changing opportunity by Tong-Len to educate myself and build a life outside of slums. I was a very bright child throughout my school and usually got the highest grades and marks and also participated in a lot of extra curricular activities. I never thought that I will even have problems with self-confidence.

But my life took a turn when I secured a seat in one of the most reputed university in India called Christ University. It was quite difficult to crack the group discussion and then the interview but once that was done I was quite sure that my college life would be easier. The first week of college however, I noticed everything and everybody around me and found out how each of my classmates spoke such good English and were so knowledgeable. Suddenly I was reminded of my background and I couldn’t help but feel inferior. I was not able to concentrate well in class and not being able to participate in class discussions and so on. I felt sad, dejected and inferior and decided to not pursue my studies from the reputed college and instead come back. I conveyed my decision to my teachers and director at Tong-Len. That time the Secular Ethics education program had begun and all of us were reading and practicing from various books. Guru ji( as we all call our director) suggested me that I should focus on the competency “ self-acceptance and courage” and it will benefit me. I read as much as I could and tried to implement the lessons in my life. I went each day to college with the lessons and always trying to regulate my emotions and train my mind, I was helped a lot by my friends back in Tong-Len who at that time were themselves studying and practicing the lessons. Slowly and gradually, every time I had a though related to me being inferior I replaced it with something much more positive. I also reminded myself again and again that my background does not define me and that day I was finally able to accept my reality, I started to become much more alert in class, participate in discussions, everything which is expected of a good college student. My teachers were also quite surprised as they thought probably I was a shy girl but with the practice of Secular Ethics and Self-acceptance and courage in particular, I was able to change my life and make the most of the opportunity given to me. By the end of my semester I also wrote a lengthy article in the University magazine about the benefits of Secular Ethics, hoping that just like me it will also benefit other students”