Tara Sandhu, Poet and Co-Founder of Porchbeam

Posted: 01 September 2022

Tara Sandhu, a Vivek High School alumna (2006), is an economics graduate from Delhi University and Cambridge University, and a management post graduate from the Indian School of  Business. Tara is a published poet who writes about endangered animals and is the co-founder of a social support network start up platform focused on wellbeing. She believes that we need to honour nature and the animals that surround us, and value and nurture relationships with those who are close to us. Her experiences have been both conventional and unconventional and she considers that this has brought a unique richness to her life.

Tara believes that her education at a Round Square school provided the foundation for her journey into advocacy and environmentalism; it is as she reflects on the impact of character education that she pulls the threads of understanding together.

“Being part of a Round Square school did impact me; the education was structured in a very mindful manner. Your childhood experiences do impact you in a subconscious way and it is only when you really think about it, that you are able to make the connections.”

At school, Tara was actively engaged in Round Square experiences. In 2004 she participated in a conference at Deerfield School in the USA and a service conference at Hanol, in India. Tara remembers that the conferences were very different, but each remarkable in their own way. The service conference was “intense” and “go with the flow” whereas the Deerfield conference was more “structured”, and she was able to listen to “great” guest speakers.

Tara says that participating in the two conferences “certainly played a role in shaping me”. She shares that her choices after leaving university have been both “conventional” and “a little unconventional” and she attributes this to the experiences she had and the people she met.

Engaging in international conferences with students from around the world supported her in building a Spirit of Internationalism. When she moved to university, she remembers that she was “one of the few people who had friends from all over the world”. Having travelled and engaged with students from other cultures and countries during conferences meant that she was not intimidated when she moved across the world to begin university. She had already experienced “travel, conversations with diverse people, and lectures by eminent speakers” and had the confidence to take this extra step.

“I entered my classrooms with a broader mind – meeting each person as an individual. As a child, you are exposed to that and told that this is how you should approach meeting people. As individuals not as someone who is a product of a culture. You do not meet them with a preconceived notion.”

Tara feels that the Baraza leadership groups at the conferences gave her confidence to engage with others and left her feeling that her voice was valued.

“The Baraza meetings were impactful as it was perhaps the first time that, as young teenagers, we were asked our opinion. We were asked to have group discussions on topics which were “adult” topics. For example, ours was on solutions for terrorism. It was the first time that adults took what we said seriously. It gives you a lot of confidence and you start thinking about the world.”

Tara has spent her career working in corporate settings, but more recently she has reconnected with the Spirits of Environmentalism and Service. In her work discussions and in her resume, she refers to the service work that she was involved in at school. She believes that this is important, both for the opportunity for advocacy and for growth in educational practices.

“It is important because it did have an impact. It was impactful to my school as they were mindful about how they were educating children, and the experiences themselves were impactful to us.”

Tara’s recent publication, Barefoot in the Wild, is a poetry anthology about environmentalism. Her poems tell the stories of nature and endangered animals in the Indian sub-continent and neighbouring countries. Tara’s fear was that the animals she wrote about “would become extinct without their stories ever having been told.”

Through her poems, she hopes to raise awareness of the hidden plight of animals in her environment, to give them a voice and advocate for their survival. At the bottom of each page in her anthology, she takes the time to share her knowledge of the animals with her readers.

Tara advocates for a life closer to nature and shares her inspiration and the motivation behind her poetry in the preface of her book.

Every creature has a story, a song, a poem. When one pauses to admire a wild thing in its habitat, one can feel the tingle of its verse. I have been trying to listen closely and write the words down. My aim is to honour these animals by giving them a place in contemporary literature where many of them have been missed and write poetry about things I love.

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