A number of people might take the ability to smile for granted, but Operation Smile student volunteer Tia Parulkar is on a mission to ensure everyone can share their smile with the world.
“It’s a privilege to smile and enjoy life, and it’s important to give the opportunity to others too,”said Tia, a club leader from India.
Tia learned Operation Smile last year, and her curiosity about the program is what has driven her to attend the 2023 International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) in Peru. She is eager to understand ways in which she can make an impact in her community through the organization.
“I am able to connect things that mean a lot to me to Operation Smile, and I am learning more and growing with the program as time goes by,” said Tia.
Aligning personal goals with causes that she cares about inspires her to achieve more and bring change where she would like to see it. Tia is invested in the growth of Operation Smile in India because of her interest in making a positive impact in people’s lives.
As a club, members host several events, including fundraisers. Organizing fundraisers does not only have to be about raising funds; for Tia, it can also be a way of sharing cultures and storytelling.
“I have organized events to raise money for Operation Smile through a Bollywood-themed day, where people dressed up as their favorite Bollywood actors and actresses,” she said. “I love Bollywood movies and it defines our culture. My character was called Geet from the film ‘Jab We Met,’ which was played by the actress Kareena Kapoor.”
This fundraiser was an appreciation of their culture and a fun way to make a difference in the lives of Operation Smile’s patients.
“I am excited to be here at ISLC because I am a social person and would like to know more about what others are doing and where they are coming from.”
By Promise Chipeta, ISLC media intern