"THE SKEPTICS" AND ME
"Why do you need the reason? Just put it on." Hari asked his sick daughter to wear a locket by a priest. She was severely sick, and it was believed that this pendant would heal her. She is not allowed to ask questions about these practices. Hari didn't ask the reason either. Why would he? He wants his daughter to be well again.
I live in the same society as her and share the same story. Due to superstitions, people in my community are still behind in terms of education and health. Many still visit shamans with the hopes of curing from disease. Some sacrifice goats to have a baby boy. I was discouraged from questioning such myths. Yet in time, I came to understand the only way to bypass these narrow streets of delusions is through scientific literacy.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "Science Literacy is a vaccine against the fuzzy thinking that goes in the world." I wanted to "vaccinate" the people of my community, but it was not easy. Most students find Math and Science uninteresting, which isn't a big surprise, since these subjects are often taught in an uninspiring way. All they know about science is reciting facts making big fat notes. But I've always wanted everyone to feel the same about Math and Science as I do-energizing, inspiring, and fun.
During our junior year of high school, I made friends who bore similar thoughts. We would discuss the essence of scientific literacy over our breaks. What's more, we decided to transform our talks into actions and established "The Skeptics;" a club with a mission to encourage scientific literacy in the community
After we conducted a few science presentations at our school, it did not take much for us to expand our scope. We received extraordinary enthusiasm from participating students and began to plan events like public astronomy observations, webinars, lectures, and student counseling. We made science fun so that even students who hated it would consider the subject from a different perspective. We collaborated with local science organizations to organize activities and helped organize the first-ever "March for Science". More than two hundred people participated. This experience reshaped my notion of what I was capable of.
I discovered that I loved visiting schools and interacting with children. Last summer, we visited an orphanage home, where I did a presentation on planets and stars. The kids eagerly asked questions. I was happy, not because the kids grew fond of me, but because I inspired their curiosity and encouraged them to ask questions. Throughout the processes of teaching these students to think skeptically, I found myself galvanizing their purpose while attaining mine.
Two years back, I was a kid who had just graduated from a military hostel. Bishal who always stayed in his room doing math projects during the vacation now visits different schools to conduct science-based programs. Moreover, I was able to discover the leader inside me. In our community, it was hard to promote scientific understanding. I, however, learned to champion a cause. My weekends were spent collecting funds and working as a tutor in order to raise money for programs.
My involvement in "The Skeptics" will not stop here. I have a new goal added in my life: To promote science-based education in my country. I wish to inspire other children to question, to be curious, and to boldly wonder about the world around them. I want to give my community which I was not fortunate to receive during my own childhood: a motivation for curiosity and scientific pursuits. With a scientifically literate future, I can imagine a huge social and economic growth of my nation.