Soumya Kantamneni is a seventeen year-old senior at Randolph School in Huntsville, Alabama. Along with excelling as a student, she has made the time to help create and develop a summer camp to educate children of Indian descent about their heritage. This project began three years ago as an idea after a conversation between Soumya and an adult family friend about the fact that many young Indian people in northern Alabama have very little knowledge of their ancestral culture.
She was sad to know that there were other children her age who were ignorant of their rich heritage. These youth were sometimes confused and perplexed about their identity. Soumya and her friend gathered a small group of teens and adults and put their ideas on paper. The core group then began to let others know about their project and recruit other participants. In the following months, Soumya and her team campaigned for community support and raised nearly $3,000 to fund a summer camp.
The camp has now been operating for three summers and has grown to include close to 100 campers, 25 youth counselors and 15 adult directors. Soumya is still very involved in the camp and serves as one of its head counselors. Through her dedication and commitment, many young people’s lives have been changed and others minds have been opened in a positive way. She hopes that programs similar to hers can be instituted in other states so the country can truly take advantage of its diversity.