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By Shillpi A Singh
Sneha Vedula, 39, is a bundle of energy, who spends an ordinary weekday managing Tulip Kids, a successful chain of after school and pre-school centers she has co-founded with her friend Deepti Mohta, in and around the Bay Area, and over the weekends, she is busy volunteering at SiliconAndhra, a non-profit organization, taking care of its publicity or fund-raising activities or doing community service. If she’s not doing any of these, then Vedula, an accomplished dancer, is either performing at a cultural event or choreographing a show. And that’s not all. She also manages to catch up with her buddies over a cup of steaming hot tea and brainstorm on the line-up of activities for the fifth anniversary celebrations of her brainchild, Team Shakti, a creative collaboration to celebrate womanhood by giving a platform to women of all hues, ages, community and background, to perform and showcase their talents, share experiences and exult in each other’s achievements.
That’s quite a feat, isn’t it? How do you manage to pack in so much in a day? “I am a quintessential hardworking Indian-American woman, who is trying to make most of the opportunities that come my way. Behind every great man, there’s a great woman goes the famous phrase. But it’s been the other way around for me and the credit for all of it goes to my father and husband, two most important men in my life,” says Vedula.
Born in Bhubaneswar, Odisha in India, to Mangapathi, an engineer, and Nagaratnam, a homemaker, she moved to the “land of opportunities” in 1997 after marriage to a software engineer Murthy Vedula. “Barely out of College with an undergraduate degree in accounting, I was bundled off to a faraway land. It was a big turning point in my life. My father was a strict disciplinarian and he made sure that we were brought up in a liberal environment and paid ample attention to our studies and extra-curricular activities. My parents were particular that we speak only our mother tongue Telugu at home.” This modest upbringing in a small town, Dhanbad, in erstwhile Bihar and now in Jharkhand, she says, “helped immensely in adjusting well in a foreign land.”
“This apart, it was my better half whose support and encouragement made the cross-over a cake walk,” she says, eyes gleaming with satisfaction. How? “By letting me just BE. He has been my biggest strength.”
“However, it was difficult initially as I was home-sick. I had everything except my mother here. I yearned to be closer to my roots and community in this foreign land to feel at home,” she recalls nostalgically.
In 2001, two years after her son Srinivas was born, she happened to attend a community function at SiliconAndhra, a newly formed non-profit organization, along with her parents-in-law and ended up performing Jada Kolatam, a folk dance form of Andhra Pradesh, at the cultural event for the organization. This performance in a way bridged the gap and brought her closer to the overseas Telugu community. Vedula felt a sense of belonging with the organization and its people, “which beautifully filled the void” and she started getting involved with the organization by way of volunteering and community service. So one thing led to another and soon she became an indispensable part of the organization, occupying important positions such as treasurer and joint secretary over the years.
Today she is the Global Director of cultural festivals for SiliconAndhra Manabadi, world’s largest non-profit Telugu Language School, which boasts of more than 6,500 students. Recently SiliconAndhra ManaBadi accomplished a huge milestone. On September 23, 2014, the school’s Telugu language curriculum was approved by the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Board of Education, as a world language to be offered as ‘for credit’ course in its high schools. Talking about it, she says, “Now students in Grades 9-12 attending any of the FUSD’s high schools will be able to enroll in a Telugu class offered by SiliconAndhra ManaBadi and earn high school credits.”
Highlighting her contributions, Santhi Kuchibhotla, founder member of the organization and vice-president for curriculum of SiliconAndhra ManaBadi, says, “Sneha has been associated with SiliconAndhra since its inception days and is an invaluable part of Manabadi, our Telugu language school. From being an energetic dancer and choreographer to a fundraiser, from taking care of hospitality and publicity for our cultural events to being a Manabadi PillalaPanduga leader, I can proudly say that she eats, sleeps and breathes SiliconAndhra.”
The organization has recently adopted Kuchipudi village in Andhra Pradesh and plans to turn into a smart world-class heritage village. “This is a huge responsibility and we at SiliconAndhra will do whatever it takes to turn Kuchipudi into a Role Model Village,” says Vedula.
But keeping in mind her hectic schedule, how difficult is to spend time with family? And she bursts into laughter. “My husband and son are omnipresent in my life. My son Srinivas is truly a rockstar. It was only yesterday that we attended Homestead High School’s fantabulous performance in the Western Region Winter Percussion Competitions. It was a mind blowing experience to see him perform. Murthy is my best friend, philosopher and guide and the reason of my being. He has never bothered to ask questions, or seek answers from me, ever,” says Vedula, adding, “Had it not been for his constant motivation and unflinching support, I would not have thought of enrolling for Masters in Human Resources Management and Psychology at Golden Gate University, San Francisco, in 2006. This degree was a stepping stone in my career in more than one way.”
Explaining the shift from being an HR Executive in 2007 to moving on to set-up a chain of playschools and after schools in the Bay Area, Vedula, says, “Though I enjoyed what I did and learned quite a bit but deep down, I was not satisfied. I always thought and believed that I should do something on my own, something which would impact the community at large, and fuels my passion for serving others as well.”
The shift was gradual, but the impact has been quite noteworthy. Recounting her association with Mohta, her partner and co-founder of Tulip Kids, Vedula says, “Deepti was running an established day care in the Bay Area, but she was exploring bigger opportunities in the field of education and something specific to cater to school age children and that’s when I came into the picture. I decided to partner with her in 2009. Our first venture, Tulip After School, which started in August 2010, was an after school for school children, from Kindergarten to Grade 5. We started on a humble note and today we have five centers of our own and five franchise centers spread in and around Sunnyvale, Fremont, Santa Clara, Dublin, San Jose and Almaden Valley.”
Talking about her association with Sneha, Mohta fondly says, “If Tulip Kids is standing because of me, it’s actually running because of Sneha! She is phenomenal in her interactions with parents and fun and loving with children. Her zest for life is infectious and it has rubbed on to all of us in small measures.”
Today Vedula has become a name to reckon with in the education space. And she has earned it thanks to her indomitable spirit and enthusiasm to educate children, giving them an opportunity to learn about and explore the widest possible range of positive human experiences and in the process develop physically, mentally, emotionally, creatively and socially.
Children and volunteering are not her only passion. There’s dance too, that takes a sizeable amount of her attention. A dance enthusiast, she has choreographed several dance shows and folk ballets, notable among them being — Maa palle Sambaralu, Mana Telenganam, Sariganchu Cheera and Janapada Kalajata, and performed in multiple genres. But the high point, obviously, was being part of Zee TV’s Dance India Dance: Supermoms show when she was one among the lucky 70 semi-finalists, who were selected from 6,000 candidates in New Jersey auditions. She was one of the 12 finalists who got a chance to perform on DID stage in Mumbai in December 2014. “It was a wonderful feeling to be on the stage and swinging to Govinda numbers, but the best part was being in India, my motherland. An unforgettable experience truly.”
Moving on to a subject closer to her heart, Team Shakti, Vedula says, “It is a women’s only idea, of the women, by the women, for the women, and men don’t have the rights of admission here.” Founded by eight passionate and talented women from different walks of life in 2012, it aims to provide funding and support to women-based non-profit organizations. In the last four years of its existence, the organization has reached out to many charitable projects in the US and India and has contributed for breast cancer research, supported mentally challenged girls, fought against human trafficking and domestic violence and funding build lab-in-a-box kits for underprivileged school children in India. With the anniversary celebrations slated on May 7 this year, Vedula says, “The Team Shakti will again support a cause for the betterment of womenfolk.”
Summing up her role in the Team Shakti, Rama Saripalle, a team member, says, “Sneha is our binding force. She is leading our publicity and media wing for the last four years. Although, we all contribute in every aspect to make this a successful fundraiser, it is solely because of her involvement that we have reached tremendous heights.”
However, the best appreciation for her hard work comes from her son, who says, “My mom is the most energetic person I know, and she has never failed to make me feel like the luckiest son in the entire world every single day. She works hard every day, night, week, year, and so on just for me, my future, my desires, and she is indeed my Supermom.”
The author can be contacted at email@example.com
With the festive season on in full swing, iconic brand Johnnie Walker, is all set to re-energize the country's after-hour culture. Through its one-of-a-kind campaign #RevibeTheNight, the brand brings together beloved music artists like Divine, Ritviz, Lisa Mishra, Taba Chake along with popular indie bands like When Chai Met Toast and Mad Boy Mink, among others to perform live across iconic community spaces in India.
The collaborative effort by Johnnie Walker aims to bring back the after-hour culture through live performances across popular hotspots in India. The brand's goal is drive social regeneration in India and bring back the vibe of socializing through local music artists and reignite the trade, driving social culture by executing the live events with Covid measures in place and a limited capacity audience capacity.
The collaborative effort by Johnnie Walker aims to bring back the after-hour culture through live performances across popular hotspots in India. | Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Unsplash
Prior to the world going into lockdown, the after-hour culture in India bloomed at celebrated community hubs, that eventually became a safe-haven for individuals, a place where they found their sense of self-expression and belonging, that fuelled progress. This community was driven through the culture of live music and enthralling performances that created their very own vibe, a vibe that built extraordinary, forever-lasting relationships. Through #ReVibeTheNight, one can reconnect with this community bringing music curated by artists who have a history of captivating crowds with their one-of-a-kind live experiences. Catch the gigs and live performances for artists in these venues/cities for the live performances.
(Artiicle originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: johnnie walker, social, #revibethenight, performances, community, artists, culture, festivity, begin
By Nikhila Natarajan
In a continuing study on the effects of machine learning (ML) on public conversation, Twitter has confirmed that its algorithms amplify right-leaning political content. "In six out of seven countries - all but Germany - tweets posted by accounts from the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left when studied as a group," Twitter blogged.
"Right-leaning news outlets, as defined by the independent organisations, see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets." Since 2016, Twitter users are able to choose between viewing algorithmically ordered tweets first in their home timeline or viewing the most recent tweets in reverse chronological order.
"An algorithmic home timeline displays a stream of tweets from accounts we have chosen to follow on Twitter, as well as recommendations of other content Twitter thinks we might be interested in based on accounts we interact with frequently, tweets we engage with, and more. "As a result, what we see on our timeline is a function of how we interact with Twitter's algorithmic system, as well as how the system is designed."
The new research is based on tweets of elected officials of House of Commons members in Canada, the French National Assembly, the German Bundestag, House of Representatives in Japan, Congress of Deputies of Spain, House of Commons in the UK, and official and personal accounts of House of Representatives and Senate members in the US, as well as news outlets, from April 1 to August 15, 2020.
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. | Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
The study was conducted by Ferenc Huszar (Twitter, University of Cambridge), Sofia Ira Ktena (now at DeepMind Technologies), Conor O'Brien (Twitter), Luca Belli (Twitter), Andrew Schlaikjer (Twitter), and Moritz Hardt (UC Berkeley).
The questions probed were:
How much algorithmic amplification does political content from elected officials receive in Twitter's algorithmically ranked Home timeline versus in the reverse chronological timeline? Does this amplification vary across political parties or within a political party?
Are some types of political groups algorithmically amplified more than others? Are these trends consistent across countries?
Are some news outlets amplified more by algorithms than others? Does news media algorithmic amplification favour one side of the political spectrum more than the other?
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: algorithmically, timeline, algorithmic, tweets, political, survey, twitter, study, germany, skew
Even as India celebrates reaching a milestone of 100 crore Covid vaccine doses, Snapdeal co-founder and COO Rohit Bansal on Friday lauded a man who facilitated 64 registrations for the vaccine on the CoWin portal. In a video shared on his Facebook and Twitter page, Bansal hailed Sonu Kumar as a "citizen celebrity".
Bansal said that Kumar not only helped "just co-workers and family but complete strangers too. With patience, empathy and uncanny jugaad". He added that Kumar joined him "many moons ago" and completed his open school from a parking lot.
"Education has helped this wonderful man enable others to get India back on track. Bravo! The CoWin portal on Thursday mentioned that a total of 100 crore vaccine doses has been administered so far to the eligible population under the vaccination drive in India, nine months after the nationwide inoculation programme was started to protect the people against Covid-19.
"It's a cause of significant celebration and happiness," Bansal said in the video. He said that while people just help a few around them, Kumar "bridged the digital gap" for 64 people, who were finding it difficult to register themselves online on the vaccine portal. Kumar said he doesn't feel that he has contributed much towards the 100 crore vaccine dose count. "I have been able to help only 64 people, if I was able to help more I would have been happier." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: cowin, covid, india, people, Rohit bansal, Sonu kumar, vaccine, snapdeal, registrations