Who’s Your Hero & Is Honesty the Key to Success?

These simple questions last year at this time would’ve elicited a totally different response from me. The reason is simple. I had not met 17 to 22-year-olds in batches of 12–15 every five weeks who were learning English, getting employment-related interviewing and life skills training as well as going to school (secondary and college). They are primarily from Delhi, India, though the recent batch has people from other parts of north India. All of them are from some of the poorest of urban areas and what they might lack materially, they make up with their ambitions and drive toward a better future.

They are a generation or less from rural India. They want to be — -well, the range is pretty wide — -from tour guides to cops to journalists, teachers, accountants to entrepreneurs to bank managers, doctors, air force pilots and fashion designers. They are also some of the poorest. The organization I work with, Freedom Employability Academy, gives them a scholarship for one year to study English and take online (MOOC) courses and guidance from counselors. The organization was started by Indians in the US and the infrastructure in India is strong. Over 25,000 have gone through these programs, recruited primarily in northern , western and in the center of India.

Photograph courtesy Freedom Employability Academy

I came across the mentoring opportunity through an old college friend who told me about the organization. He and his wife were doing this. I was skeptical that I could do anything, thinking that I’d have to speak Hindi for 90 minutes. You might as well ask me to swim across Hauz Khas Reservoir in south Delhi. It ain’t gonna happen. He assured me that everything would be in English as the students are encouraged to speak to get more fluent. And Zoom? We do what we can, connectivity issues as par for the course. We use the chat box a lot if the audio malfunctions or spoken English is difficult to understand. Bandwidth issues are rampant and some students have to keep the video feed shut off. Some are sharing their screens with another student.

We muddle through. Coaxing, cajoling, joking, goading, trying to encourage the students to ask questions, speak English and get more confident about speaking in public. There’s a suggested script as well as a facilitator. Often I discard the script but keep to the broad topic.

I have recruited friends, acquaintances, and alumni from the college I attended in Delhi to come to the sessions as guest speakers. So now these students have the benefit of hearing from and asking questions of people often in the professions they are interested in and also from the world over.

(Readers please note: Mentors are needed and you can always sit in as a guest to observe, from anywhere in the world. We’ve had people from Singapore to Iceland and the US join in. Contact me or FEA directly).

And why English? It’s the most spoken language in India after Hindi. It is also the language of power, of prestige, a requirement for better jobs, a requirement in the global economy.

“English makes a side entry into this universe; all this coaching will come to naught if you can’t answer questions in English. If you’re lucky, you can choose to write your answers in a regional language, but you can’t crack an interview in India without explaining to a suited man in English why you deserve the job.” (Source: Snigdha Poonam, Dreamers Harvard University Press, 2018).

English was traditionally the language of the rich and the upper castes. People in the slums weren’t learning English or were being given an opportunity to dream about it. That was then. This is now.

To be absolutely blunt, given the social hierarchies in India, a few generations ago, the social and economic divide wouldn’t have allowed us to interact. If there is progress in India, this is a tangible one, fueled with human aspirations in a media-saturated world as well as through the efforts of private organizations such as FEA. These students represent the single largest demographic of the Indian population. If they don’t succeed, India doesn’t succeed.


The following section, unedited, are responses from some of the students on a weekly assignment who their heroes are. I found it revealing and touching that the majority wrote about their parents.

I’ve also added a current events topic response on what students thought was an important topic. They researched and summarized it, adding their opinion. They were able to think critically about fake news, which in itself is an accomplishment. It’s no surprise that everyone chose the issue of COVID-19, which is a humanitarian crisis in India.

Keep in mind that these students are learning English in informal settings and with almost no one around them with whom they can converse with regularly to gain fluency. Their ambitions, drive and persistence gives me courage. Courage to say that they will succeed if they can get a boost.

If you comment on this post, I will ensure that all the students and FEA sees your remarks.



I am Avinash.

My superhero is my mother because she always helps me. like-

1-Whenever I need money, my mother gives it to me

2- She always cares for me when I am ill.

3-My mother always motivates me.

For all these reasons my mother my hero, not a hero my mother my superhero.

~ Avinash Verma, 19. Wants to join the Indian Administrative Service


My hero is my mother she is always there when I need to her the most she has blessed me with a great life and I am forever thankful for all the she do for me.

Nobody could ever compare to my mother, she is most Caring loving and person I know and that is why she is my hero when I think of a hero, I think of someone who is brave strong hard working trustworthy, and unselfish. Someone who can protect you and make life better. My mom has all does qualities.

~ Rani Parveen, 21. Wants to be a secondary school teacher.


My father is my hero. He passed away in 1999, but I will forever remember how great a men he was. He had a heart of gold. The most generous and compassionate person I have ever known. I admire him for so many reasons. My daddy was visually impaired but that never stopped him from achieve. A hard worker. he is in CRPF he passed in Kargil fight. .Such a kindhearted man daddy was. My mom told me that soldier has many duties to perform. He has to work selflessly for the betterment of the country. They ensure that peace and harmony are maintained throughout the nation. Moreover, they also remain vigilant at all times and render help in case of emergency situations.

A soldier has to face a lot of challenges in their lives. They separate from their family and spend most of their time away from them. Further, they undergo hard training to achieve success. Sometimes, they don’t even get enough supplies to make ends meet. Moreover, no matter the weather, they have to survive in rough situations.

I inspire from my father that’s why I am also want to join defence to protect our nation from enemy that’s why I’m preparing for afcat exam to join Indian Airforce as a pilot.

~ Tanveer Ali, 19. Wants to be an Indian Air Force pilot


The hero of my life is my father. He is very polite. The best thing about him is that he is a honest and hardworking man with helping nature. He respects everyone. I would like to be honest and hardworking like him.

~ Savita Kumari, 20. Wants to be a secondary school teacher.


Anjum Khatoon, 21. Wants to be a secondary school teacher.


Today I’m going to present about my hero
My hero is my father because he loves me a lot and he do a lot of efforts to do best thing for me . Whenever I said to my dad I want this or that thing he gave me . Only he is that person who Full fill my wishes whenever ,I felt fever or something else he cares me more then me, my dad loves me more then their life he cares me .sometime people says that only God can fulfill our wishes but no there is only one person or two who can fulfill our wishes our parents. they always trying to give best thing for us . actually my mom and dad both are my heros ,because I know how much they sacrifice for us whenever they have money or not but they fullfill our wishes .they loves us alot they hardwork only for us not for their self they earn money not for their self only for us .In this world there is only our parents who is our God because , only they both are complete our dream or wishes . their love and care is more then others

️ I love you mom dad .

~ Shweta Kumari, 19. Wants to go into banking.


My hero is Muniba Mazaria. because she is so brave and she also knows as “Iron Lady of Pakistan”. She is also Pakistan’s first model and anchor who uses a wheelchair. She uses a wheelchair due to injuries at the age of 21. She is an artist, anchor, model, singer and motivational speaker. After her accident she faces lots of problem in her life that car accident change her life. After that she gain fame and respect. Because of these reason she is my hero. I learnt by her to never give up in life and do hard work. These quality of her attract me so much.

~ Nishu Bharti. 18. Wants to be a secondary school teacher.

  • *************************
Vishal Rai, 17. Wants to join the Indian Army.


In my life my DAD is my hero. Because he do alot of things for me. He care me alot. And when I upset he taught me nicely . I share my all feelings to my dad only . Because he is that person who can understand me nicely . And when I think about my goal. My hero means my DAD motivated me very nicely and in good way he motivated me . He do alot of hardwork for me only . He think one day my son come in front of him in army dress . And I proudly say he is my dad ( my real hero ) . And I am so lucky he is my dad . Because I found god in my dad . I love my hero alot .

~ Rahul Thakur, 17. Wants to be a businessman.


We can say that “Honesty Is The Key Of Success”, so just be honest about what you have done , accept your mistake , not thinking about what people will think or perceive , Be ready to learn from your mistake and be true to yourself.

~ Areeba Hasan, 21, wants to become a doctor


My opinion is that’s government don’t need to manufacturing temple, statue of Sardarbalv bhai and modi stadium, if government this money invest in hospital so may be we are not able to see worst situation of corona .

Now, corona pandemic situation is very worst ,lots of people are died , only indian government midia responsible for this situation .

Media only focus on who spread virus in our india and how many people died .

If media guide us about safety , how safe our life with covid , wear mask,maintain social distance , guide us and provide training how to be became safe, so maybe we can stop corona.

~Areeba Hasan, 21, wants to become a doctor


I want to share an article which helpful in fighting COVID-19 for everyone.

a) Summary of paragraph:- Over 143 million people worldwide have been infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-The agent that causes corona virus disease 2019 (COVID 19)- pandemic and over 3 million people have lost their lives.

In pandemic, people are looking for ways to protect themselves from the deadly virus, and claim is doing rounds on social media that says, steam inhalation can kill corona virus 🦠.

But according to the news report by reuters, steam is not recommended as a treatment for the corona virus by either the U.S Centers for disease control and prevention. He was not aware of any scientific studies that show steam therapy helps with the corona virus.

But scientific studies have found that it has few proven benifits, and can cause serious adverse side effects like burn injures.

~ Ankita Tripathi, 24, wants to join the civil service


. . . the government should vaccinate for free, because there are many poor people who have not money for treatment. This will be helpful for people.

~ Babita Patel, 17, wants to be a teacher


India is facing critical problems in now days. This is very dangerous situation for India in Covid- second wave. Some where it is fault of government also , it shows the bad image of Indian government in the World.

In all conditions one thing which is seem that is good support of global and strong international — relationship. It gives satisfaction that many countries and our neighbors Bangladesh and Pakistan also supporting to India.

I hope India get relief from support of countries with liquid oxygen, drugs and ventilates.

~ Kashish Pandey, 21, wants to join the civil services


My opinion :-

Covid19 has brought a devastating second wave in our country. Numbers of deaths and infection has been recorded and they are still increasing and still there are fatalities is very far to think and many of them are not being recorded officially.

The government has proven woefully preparedness for this crisis. Many of them died who could have been saved if they got oxygen cylinders and proper treatment in the hospitals in time, there is shortage of vaccine, there is shortage of ICU beds in the hospitals. There is black marketing of oxygen cylinders, ambulance, medicines, antibiotics and the black market become only option for some people.

Government should have taken the things seriously instead of making promises only, they should have taken eye on the ground level. There are many things to be improved apart from election also. I don’t know who is totally responsible all the critical situation in India but, the government should have come up with more preparedness towards the second wave instead of making political rallies.

~Shrivan Singh, 20, wants to join the civil service



Fearless reader, fearful writer, optimistic traveler

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