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This blog post was written by Rina Patel (Gallatin ‘20), founder of The Thinkers.
The Thinkers Origins:
A common practice amongst my ancestors in India was to think seven generations ahead when they made decisions in regards to community, marriage, and economics. Growing up, my dad often told me that the greatest thinkers of our time don’t just think 20 or even 50 years into the future, they think about the health of society 200 years and beyond. This was hammered into my brain for as long as I can remember. In 2015, when I ended up living in the Gandhi Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi began India’s independence movement surrounded by inspiring community leaders, business people, politicians, and social entrepreneurs, it was only natural that my dad’s words came back to me.
I had recently graduated with my undergraduate degree in Business. I had spent the previous four years building a non-profit organization and itching to move to India to continue to build it. Rather than join my classmates at some of the banks and firms that recruited at my undergraduate university, I decided to travel and spend time in India. I told my family and friends I’d be back in 3 months. While it was education and economic development work that brought me to India, what kept me there for close to 3 years were the things I was learning about myself and the life skills I was learning on a day to day basis.
I learned about alternative methods of education and economics that were created all over India and had the privilege to visit many communities that were based on the decentralization of political systems, transformation of existing, modern education systems, and ecological and sustainable living.
I began to notice the enormous power of small, critical decisions of the community leaders and each person in those communities would make. There was an out of the box way of thinking, generous spirit, and non-violent communication style amongst individuals which made these communities and initiatives so impactful and sustainable.
As a first-generation college student and daughter of immigrants, I also observed my dad’s “street smarts” and savvy business skills although he had no further education beyond 11th grade. His risk taking abilities and practical skill sets were a result of being born and raised in poverty in a small farming village and struggling to make it on his own in India’s cities after turning 16. From a young age, I was taught to take risks, seek my own answers to practical matters, and become financially literate. By the time I had reached middle school, I was making my own medical appointments, knew how to write checks, open bank accounts, credit cards, and read financial statements and tax returns.
My upbringing and the experiences I had in India made me step back and ask myself why we weren’t preparing youth and giving them the resources to think critically and courageously about the world and the essential areas of their own lives: health, relationships, and career trajectory.
What is The Thinkers?
The Thinkers is an online learning academy and community dedicated to preparing our next generation with the 21st century life skills they need to excel in their health, relationships, and professional lives. We currently provide high school students between the ages of 13 and 17 with live, virtual classes taught by dynamic instructors. The classes are focused on building healthy habits such as time management and goal setting, healthy money habits, strong interpersonal relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners, communication skills and self awareness, navigating mental health, and thinking critically about designing a career and life.
Our classes provide peer to peer collaboration, mentorship, and exposure to industry professionals and career paths. We also provide classes for students interested in spearheading their own social impact initiatives.
This summer The Thinkers has been focused on launching one three week long life skills summer program for high school students to best understand how we can continue to deliver online classes in the format and frequency students are interested in. We have also been working with the City of Charlotte to provide live life skills classes to 300 high school students in the city’s summer youth employment program.
During August, we will be busy preparing for the Fall as we onboard new instructors and course offerings. We will also be rebranding and launching a new website to reflect our mission and vision as an online learning academy.
Come check us out and sign up for our newsletter for more updates!
For questions or comments please reach out to Rina G. Patel, The Thinkers CEO and Founder at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us on our journey towards transforming education and creating the next generation of Thinkers!