My name is Tashweena Heeramun and I am from Mauritius, a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar. I am a rising junior, studying Systems Engineering at Penn. I am very interested in programming and technology in general. This summer, I will use my skills to help make a positive and meaningful impact at LEAP Skills Academy in New Delhi. At the same time, it will be an opportunity for me to learn new skills and grow professionally.
I started my summer with an amazing two-week trip to Rwanda, where I was part of a Penn Engineering program working on a few projects in a girls’ high school. While at GGAST, the school’s name, almost every student asked me if I am from India (haha). I look Indian and I speak Hindi, which I learnt in school. I share some similar religious and cultural beliefs. I have often experienced Indians coming straight up to me to speak Hindi. Coming from a tiny island that most people haven’t heard of, I sometimes find comfort when people mistakenly think I am from India. When that happens, the thought of my forefathers who struggled for independence so that we can be called Mauritians today come to my mind. Anyway, I am a Mauritian and a proud one.
I remember when I applied to this program, I was very excited and I felt comfortable with the thought of possibly staying in a foreign place for an extended period of time. I also love travelling! And coming from a multicultural and diverse nation, I was very excited to explore India, visit new places, dive in the culture, meet new people and try new food. You would think that moving to Penn, thousands of miles away from home, would make this new adventure less scary and apprehensive. Well, if anything, I would rather be closer to home. One day before flying, I now find myself a bit afraid of getting sick. The ISOS email alerts do not help either and venturing into something with so many uncertainties isn’t my strength since I am a planner.
Despite the small obstacles in front of this life-changing journey that is awaiting me, I look forward to discovering myself and working dedicatedly on projects at LEAP. I am also very grateful to have a co-intern, Ria. Together, we will have an amazing time this summer and hopefully, Delhi will start to feel like home by the end of the 9 weeks we will be there for.