Nazeela Nasseri is like any other 15-year-old in Grade 11 at Shawn High School in Massachusettes, US. She’s bubbly like any other teenager and loves to learn languages. She already knows English, French, Urdu & Farsi and is in the process of learning Arabic, Russian & Spanish!
Coming home to India for a short holiday at her grandfather’s was quite an exciting event for her even though “I am only half Lakhnawi,” she explains with a giggle, adding that, “My father is Iranian. I have a very interesting legacy actually!” Her great-grandfather and grandfather were the taluqdars of Amethi.
But it’s not her family that’s the talking point here. Nazeela did a very special thing on her holiday to India this August. She commuted 26 km every day from her grandpa’s house in Amethi to the local Madarsa Umesalma to teach children, young girls and women (some even twice her age)!
“I suddenly realised life is beautiful and I am so thankful to god for what he has given me. I also realised that I must reach out to these people also. I spent one month teaching them English and am surprised at how fast they have picked up,” she says.
Her mother is her inspiration and Nazeela likes honest people. Inspired by her parents who are in medicine, she has a sister she dotes on. However, it’s her ‘new-found’ love of teaching that is inspiring her.
“I never realised as a girl in the US I have lot of privileges that I take for granted. Now, I felt the value of what I have so, I teach all this young girls not to ever compromise on their self confidence or self respect. I have taught them much, but in the process, I’ve learnt too… Maybe, someday I will go to Harvard but whatever new things I learn, I want to come back and tell these friends of mine.” Of course then, as Nazeela packs her bags to return to school, she’s already looking forward to coming back to India next August.