Friday, December 10, 2010

Get to Know Paiyal Patel

By Bredan Ori, Corps Member Serving at Kimball Elementary

Paiyel (top row, second from left) with her City Year Team
Paiyal Patel is a 24-year old graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana but hails from Gabarone, Botswana. She double majored in Dietetics and Speech and Hearing Sciences. She wears her PU pride on her sleeve and has been known to holler “Boiler Up!” at very inappropriate times. She now serves on the City Year Washington, DC Kimball Elementary Team. In her non-City Year time, she likes to read up on her passion- Speech Impediments, play tennis, and take boxing lessons. Yes, I said box. She once knocked out her trainer with a mean uppercut during a training session!

As I mentioned earlier, Paiyal hails from Botswana, a small country just north of South Africa. Hearing her talk about Africa makes you want to visit there so bad! She talks about the beautiful skies, the delicious fresh prickly pears, and her common interaction with giraffes. She never appreciated the natural beauty of her country until she moved to the United States, and while she does not always express it, you can definitely feel that she misses home.

I recently asked her about why she chooses to serve, a common theme among deep City Year conversations. Once again, you can see her mind travel back to Africa.

“ I moved from the United States to Botswana, two very different worlds. I think that this gave me a sort of grounding that I would never exchange for anything. Growing up in Botswana, the issues of HIV and Aids surrounded me, and I saw the importance of education in helping to reduce the epidemic. I saw the poor public education system, and how many children were being left behind. I always felt privileged to have the opportunity of world-class education, and I never understood the large gap between those who received it and those that didn't. When I moved to America, it surprised me to see that the same issues were prevalent. Through college, while volunteering in my community, I saw how these problems were affecting our country. This is when I decided to turn on my “justice nerves.” I hadn’t been proactive enough to help within my community back home, so for me, it was a rude awakening that if I didn’t do anything now, time would slip away, and I wouldn’t have done anything to be part of the solution.”

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