Source: News Bharati English23 May 2015 12:23:09
After graduating from Georgia Tech, Atlanta, with a degree in Computer Science in 2013, Aman Sharma worked as a Software Developer at Epic Systems in Madison, WI for one year.
And then he did something many of us may never find the courage to do.
In August 2014, Aman quit his job and backpacked the world for 6 months visiting 4 continents, 14 countries and 40 cities.
Aman, now 22, is a vistarak, an HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) worker who commits his full time for 1 week to 2 years to work for the HSS. He became a vistarak after he graduated from high school in 2010 and spent a month in North and South Carolina conducting a Vedic Math seminar – an experience he describes as “extremely rewarding, enriching and motivating.”
Originally from Patna, Aman’s family moved to Houston when he was five. A high achiever, he graduated from college in three years rather than the customary four as a result of high school credits and overloaded semesters. Since he had an extra year compared to his peers, he decided to use the year to give back to the society that had given him so much.
Stories from the epics, he says, sparked his interest in Hinduism. It taught him values that would prove to be invaluable when he hit the critical teenage years in America and dealt with an upbringing that was culturally different. His involvement with the HSS, he believes, helped him approach his college years with a confidence in himself and his Hindu identity. More importantly, it prompted an aspiration in him to impart this wisdom to those younger and still trying to figure life out.
According to Aman, the HSS program is unique in that it provides a holistic education that helps develop the physical, mental, spiritual and social traits in a person. His father, Arun Sharma, has been actively involved with HSS and Aman grew up attending its weekly program called a shakha.
The group practiced yoga, played physical games, discussed topics relevant to Hindu youth in America and learnt Vedic concepts. As he grew older, he progressed from being a student to a teacher.
At Georgia Tech, Aman started an organization on campus called Hindu YUVA to represent the interests of Hindu students. A defining moment and one he is justifiably proud of is a successful campaign to include Hindi as an official course in the School of Modern Languages.
While working, he continued his involvement with HSS starting two shakhas in Madison and also worked with Hindu teenagers in Chicago coordinating programs designed to build their confidence, leadership skills and pride in their Hindu identity.
Interestingly, Aman is fluent in Hindi and says he made a concerted effort to learn so he could visit villages in India and continues to work for HSS.
After leaving his job, Aman worked for a month in September helping organize Prime Minister Modi’s visit to America and describes it as an “intense, eye-opening, and the greatest learning experience” he could have asked for.
Coming from HSS, an environment where people tend to work in cohesion with no place for “aggression, big egos or selfish motives,” this one month, he admits, served as an effective lesson in dealing with all kinds of people.
When Aman broke the news to his parents about his decision to quit his job and travel, they were, to say the least, taken aback. The idea of travelling the world was foreign to them and the idea of quitting a job even more so. They tried changing his mind but when he explained that this wasn’t an irrational decision and his career wouldn’t be impacted, they relented and eventually gave their blessings.
Today, his parents, Meena and Arun are filled with “pride to see how much he thinks about giving back to the society.”
According to HSS national Vice President, Ramesh Bhutada, – “not only is Aman very motivated but at a young age and growing up in the American environment, he understands the value of the life learning experience of becoming a full time Vistarak. What he will learn in six months – to live happily without any expectations – takes most of us a lifetime.”
Aman’s first stop was Tunja, a city in Colombia where he worked with a local group organizing seminars on Yoga, meditation, Sanskrit and India’s contributions to science and arts. A highlight was when the Tunja State Government launched a pilot program incorporating the teaching of Vedic concepts in the high school curriculum.
He also visited a number of countries in Asia, Europe and Africa helping the HSS Chapters there. Aman considers him fortunate that his travels introduced him to people such as Edwin Lopez, a Columbian, who never having stepped foot in India, knew more about Hinduism than anyone he’d ever met.
The decision to travel for six months was possible once Aman paid off his student loans. As a vistarak, HSS covers the logistical costs of airfare and gas and staying with HSS families during his travels kept costs low. Today, his belief is even stronger – “that any amount of money means nothing compared to the experiences and life lessons of travelling the world.”
Now that he’s back home, he’s even more motivated and intends to spend the next six months working full time for HSS in Washington DC. His objective is to expand HSS work in the DC area and help instil Hindu values in both children and parents that will influence them “to create a better community and ultimately a better America.”