GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Vani Topkar, Lafayette, “Project Ghungroo”

Vani Topkar pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I addressed an issue in my community that was very important to me. As a proud Indian girl, it is saddening to see a lack of knowledge on Indian heritage and culture, and more specifically, it is saddening to see a lack of knowledge on Indian classical dance. I have been learning Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam) for the past ten years and have come to realize that it is important for people to have an understanding of the art form in order to both be culturally diverse. The reason I think that many people in my community do not know about Bharatanatyam is because there is a lack of resources and opportunities to learn about it. To address these problems, I arranged for two mini projects that went towards the same goal. First, and more prominently, I created an online dance resource (www.ghungroo.info) with information on dance theory, background, and even steps. This part of my project is the more sustainable part of my Gold Award because it will persist even after my involvement. In addition, this part of my project can reach a multitude of people not limited to my direct community. Secondly, I held a community dance night in my local public library where I talked about dance, went over my website, and taught a few basic steps.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

The reason I pursued this as my Gold Award project was to address an underlying problem I observed in my community: lack of cultural knowledge. I am a professional Indian classical Bharatanatyam dancer and over the past ten years, I have noticed that not many people in my community know about this form of dance. Because of that, I wanted to create a project for my Gold Award that could take steps towards solving this problem on both a more local level and on a more global scale as well.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

Due to the nature of my project, it is difficult to effectively evaluate the impact of my project in a quantitative manner. Therefore, feedback is what I have using to determine the difference my project has made. More specifically, I got many positive comments back after my community dance night. Even beyond that though, everyone who attended that event learned something whether that be about dance, Girl Scouts, or even myself. For the website though, I hope that people use the resource as much as possible. I have been advertising my website quite a bit, and I would like it to be used for a long period of time.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I gained many skills through earning my Gold Award. From creating my website for dance, I learned a lot about website development and design. This was a subject that I have always been interested in, but it was not until the Gold Award that I pursued learning more. Also, I learned about myself and my time management skills. It was difficult at times to work on such a large project, but by establishing goals after shorter periods of time, I was able to consistently work on my website. Through my community dance night, I was challenged because I had to create a lesson that would appeal to a large variety of people. This pushed me to be creative and find ways to establish activities that everybody would enjoy. Additionally, I gained more confidence to speak publicly and address a large group of individuals. From both of my projects, I learned about advertisement. Both of my projects required me to contact many people to make certain arrangements and publicize my event and project. This was certainly a challenge for me, but luckily I gained a new skill out of it.

How did you make your project sustainable?

The main way my project will be sustainable is through the online dance resource I created. This website will continue to exist for years to come for anybody who is interested, and I hope to continue adding features to it as well.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

Because my online dance resource exists online, it is available to people across the globe. This means that I can potentially reach an audience on a much larger scale. In addition, the whole purpose of my project was to connect my community in the United States with my cultural heritage of India, and I certainly hope that I have done so.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

There is not one particular part of my Gold Award project that I will remember over anything else. I will, however, remember my entire positive experience. I truly enjoyed both parts of my project because they were both so new to me. The community dance night was a lot of fun because I had the chance to physically interact with people who were genuinely interested in dance. The website was a great experience because I was forced to consider my project on a more extensive timeline. Simply put, I had a wonderful time informing people about something I am passionate about and learned a lot in the process.

How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?

I hope that all of the skills and information I have learned throughout the process of my Gold Award will help me in the future. I want to keep working on my project in the future as much as possible so that my website can continue to grow and I can continue to learn more about website development and design. Time management is another skill that I have improved upon through this project and I hope to use that skill in my future endeavors. Also, being able to arrange events, effectively advertise, and speak to a large group of people of different varieties will definitely be helpful. Moreover, this project has reaffirmed my passion for dance and I hope to take this love and translate it to my dance career.

Why do you feel the Gold Award is an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

The Gold Award is a milestone in the Girl Scout experience. As someone who has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, I think it is important to establish certain goals that can be achieved. The Girl Scout can choose for herself what part of the experience she wants to pursue depending on what she wants out of the experience. For me, the Gold Award was important because it was the ultimate final step in my Girl Scout career. This is not my last interaction with Girl Scouts, of course, because if anything, the Gold Award has helped me learn that once you are a Girl Scout, you continue to take the core message of helping your community and bettering yourself for the rest of your life. I am so excited and proud to have completed my Gold Award because I feel that it means that I have achieved my potential and have realized my purpose in the world as a Girl Scout.

***IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org