For the Graduating Class of 2014

To those who are graduating from high school in 2014, Congratulations and best wishes from Shehjar for your future endeavors as well.

I was recently speaking with Iha Kaul who is graduating from college soon. She shared a note of her experiences during school years, that she had written just before her graduation from high school. I requested her permission to share that note with the readers of Shehjar and she allowed it, as she agreed that it might be helpful to other kids who are now in the transition phase of life, between high school and college. Her note titled “My Vision” is an inspiring read and we thank Iha for sharing it.

We sincerely encourage other young readers to send us notes from their own experiences, which would be helpful to others. Please email these notes to

Separately, I had also written a note to a dear niece who I have seen from a child and who is now in college. I have adapted parts of that to write the below thoughts that may be considered for reading by the graduating class of 2014.

For the Graduating Class of 2014

It is the younger years that give you the mind and the energy to achieve the most out of your potential. The later years may make you better at analyzing things but the power of achievement is in the youth. Old age is about reflection and savoring the moments. There will always be exceptions like people hitting the 9th inning, final pitch, game winning grand slam but what I say above is true in most part. So, get it all done in the coming years, which you can easily make the most productive of your life. There is also a saying, “Whatever you put your focus on, grows.” Do all that you want to do but one thing at a particular time.

Learning stays, everything else may come and go. "The best of all things is to learn. Money can be lost or stolen, health and strength may fail, but what you have committed to your mind is yours forever." (Louis L'Amour) My family, along with about a hundred thousand other Kashmiri Hindu families was forced out of Kashmir with just the clothes on their back. In just about 20 years or so, the community has rebounded from the atrocities committed on it and rebuilt, bigger and better than before. The one thing that helped them overcome such adversity so soon was education that the refugees had acquired prior and the education that they ensured for their children later, even as they lived in makeshift tents, in 45 degrees Celsius weather. Do not take your opportunity to learn for granted. Make the most of it dears. It will hold you in good stead, forever.

As you head to college, you will have far greater freedom of action but then you are directly responsible for its causal effects. Freedom brings in expectation and requirement of prudent behavior. Consider this; You expect a certain behavior from your grandpa who may be closer to 68 and if he is to behave or act outside convention, it would shock you. Your own expectations of yourself and the expectations of others from you could not be any lower. You may want to consider this in your moments of action. Even though, you can do what you want, your choices are important; do only what seems right to you and is generally right by others as well.

That is all but do write back to us at We would love to hear from you, especially if you have something to share with our young readers, which would help them in an important phase of life.

Best Wishes
Arun Koul

Experiences – By Iha Kaul – My Vision

I was in the third grade when I got my first pair of glasses. I used to hate the way my lenses would sit menacingly on top of my nose, never failing to leave a mark. At first, these glasses changed the familiar appearance of my world. They turned what I believed to be a haven of beautiful green sky into a forest with pines, maples, and woodland creatures. The snow that I assumed to be a thick white blanket became defined as small and unique ice crystals. These glasses aged my mother with the wrinkles I never knew her to have, and dotted my father with the stubble I thought was shadow. As my world became clearer, I soon came to realize that my glasses were not gateways to the fairy-tale idealism, I saw them to be.

In this newly defined world, appearances soon took on a whole new meaning. I came to see that these glasses of mine altered the way people looked at who I was. I lost my title as self-proclaimed “beauty-queen” and succumbed to the label of nerd. My dreams of becoming an acclaimed Indian Bollywood actress were shattered by the stigma of being a “glasses geek.” Besides being the girl with the strange name (more than once have I been addressed with the “Yee-Haw” of a cowboy), I was the girl with the strange eye-glasses as well. Glasses provided me with yet another way to be different during a time when I simply wanted to be the same as everyone else.

The eyes that had once let me see a world that I desired now exposed me to realities I did not want to see.

It was this reality that shed a new light on the role of my spectacles. I have now come to respect my eyeglasses as the permanent fixture through which I can see my own responsibility in the world. I try to see life in all its honesty and develop a dedication to making the world a place that I wish to see.

The need to look beyond myself and see more than just the surface sparked my commitment to community service. I started teaching students from my neighboring city Lawrence through PALS. Every student I interacted with brought different challenges and struggles along with them. Teaching opened my eyes to a world where people were diverse: a world where it was alright to be a little different. My students would often shirk away from problems they thought no one would understand. More and more, I began to see the importance of being able to relate to others and be emphatic to their concerns. Whether it was a challenging math question, or an issue at home, I tried my best to understand them and where they were coming from. The chance to see others learn helped reacquaint me with my own passion for learning and understanding new things. My glasses were no longer a boundary to my connection with society: they became the scope through which I tried to understand other’s struggles.

Over the years such learning experiences have really made a mark on my life. I seek every opportunity I can to bring my excitement and enthusiasm for learning to myself and others as well. As I grow and move on to college, I can see myself pursuing my interest in community service. With my new vision, I can see clearly that I have the power to make a difference in somebody’s life. While I still embrace all that my glasses have shown me, I am ready to take on new challenges and get exposed to new ideas. Though I have come a long way from being the “four-eyes freak show,” in my new adventures and journeys through college and the rest of life, I will always make sure to bring along a pair of glasses in the back of my suitcase.

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Thanks for the wonderful share.
Added By Vikas k
Mahra this is very helpful for young people.
Added By Jawahar Kikloo
I am impressed by the experience and views of the young girl Iha. She should be commended.
Added By Bhushan Kotru