Tulika Narayan & Srividhya Venkataraman joined AID in the 1990s as students in College Park and Clemson respectively. As they moved on in life, they stayed involved and valued what they learned through AID. As parents, they sought to help their children to think proactively and collectively about issues affecting the community and their own role in creating a more just society. They started a group called Youth Circles.
Why did you start Youth Circles?
Tulika: I always wanted the kids to get more engaged in the community that they live in and to contribute to the community that they are part of. Following the recent election, the kids got engaged in very important topics such as diversity, racism, and refugees.
When Srividhya moved to the region we realized that both of us wanted to do this. Having her involved was important; it is hard to do this by oneself. My kids, Aarohi and Arjun were interested, her kids Dhruv and Kabir were interested. So there we go! We reached out to our friends’ kids, our kids’ friends, in AID and beyond.
We intentionally wanted to keep it broader than India, broader than AID. Our kids are growing up here, they need to connect with issues related to the local community, African American community, environment, climate change, which are also global issues.
What do the kids do in Youth Circles?
What role do parents play?
Tulika: The kids direct what they want to do. As adults we help them explore the issues that interested them, and see that they stay with a cause, not just to get credit for school but to go deep and find out more about it. We would not just go to a food bank, pack the food and feel good but dig deeper as to why these problems exist.
Srividhya: My main goal was to basically provide a space where kids can come together and talk about issues of relevance and talk about what they can build together.