When 14-year-old Nithyani Anandakugan began to volunteer at Grassroots International, little did we know that she was also a highly skilled classical dancer, having spent the past 8 years studying Bharathanatya Arangetram, a great Indian dance originating from South India around 4000 BC. She brought the same dedication to every task we asked her to perform, as well as deepening her own political understanding of our mission.
After her volunteer time with us, Nithyani performed a dance recital that drew over 400 people to the Littleton High School auditorium where she performed on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Both in her invitation and a speech at the recital, in lieu of customary gifts, Nithyani asked her community to dedicate all proceeds from the event to Grassroots International because, in her words, “Grassroots International connects people in the United States with global movements solving the root causes of inequality and climate change.”
Presently Nithyani is junior in high school. She is an articulate Speech and Debate team member and co-Editor-in-Chief for the high school student newspaper. Additionally, she is an elected class leader. She continues to stay in touch with Grassroots International.
In the interview below, Nithyani describes her experience volunteering with Grassroots International and why she decided to hold a fundraiser to support our work.
Why did you volunteer and ask people to donate to Grassroots International in lieu of gifts for your dance performance?
I volunteered at Grassroots International some years ago because I believed—and still believe—in its cause. Grassroots International promotes bottom-up change—change that begins with and truly benefits the people. Organizations like Grassroots thrive off of the passion behind their causes and visions. But they also survive off of publicity and awareness. As someone who so deeply believes in Grassroots International and its mission, I wanted to contribute not only to the passion behind the cause but to the more logistical aspects of Grassroots International’s goals as well. I requested donations to Grassroots International in lieu of gifts for my Arangetram because I wanted to help spread the word about Grassroots International’s impact on our global community.
What about Grassroots International’s work moves you the most?
I am most moved by Grassroots International’s approach to change. This organization works to develop a sense of sustainability, sovereignty, and independence among global communities. It strives to instill security and, perhaps more importantly, liberty among the people that it serves. Here, change is bottom-up; it comes from the people and spreads among them. Unaffected by bureaucracy or corruption, change at Grassroots International is genuine and sincere.
How do you plan to connect with Grassroots International in the future?
I am proud to have been connected to an organization that so fiercely and passionately advocates for its cause. In the future, I plan to continue to spread the word about Grassroots International and its mission and to promote its vision, so the world may know its impact on developing communities across the globe. I hope to maintain contact with those at Grassroots International for the years to come.
What most deeply matters to you about supporting grassroots global movements?
To me, it matters deeply to support grassroots global movements because of the resulting international unity and solidarity. We live in volatile times: our world still suffers from injustice and inequity. Global grassroots movements, however, function as universal equalizers; they level these imbalances that we see in our world. While pushing international causes, these grassroots movements continue to respect the needs and wills of the diverse peoples that they serve. I believe this is so incredibly important.