We all need inspiration right? Today, we are excited to have a conversation with Dr. Connie K. Chung, Author – When We Thrive, Our World Thrives, and we are sure that the book touched many lives after its release. The book also charmed a large no. of the audience with a hunger for knowing the stories of many unsung warriors who made it big in life.
1. It takes immense pleasure to introduce an inspiring personality to our readers. The book is attractive and charming in terms of contents, look, and feel. How are the aesthetics designed and decided?
The cover and aesthetics were co-designed with me, Vishal Talreja, Dream a Dream staff, Notion Press, and the young people who were featured in the book. Because this book contains stories from young people, we involved them in the design and also received their consent to share their photos. We are delighted that Notion Press did such a great job with designing the formatting in an easy-to-read way.
2. The book introduces the readers to exceptional talents from challenging and humble backgrounds. What kinds of thoughts were running through your mind while penning these stories?
The young people who are featured in the book are leaders in their communities, who share their stories to inspire other young people. I was inspired and deeply moved when I interviewed them. Dream a Dream’s journey as an organization that has humbly listened to young people and brought in the expertise of many different people to develop their program is also an inspiring story. As I wrote about the research that shows how to best support young people growing up in challenging backgrounds, my hope was that readers would learn and also feel a sense of hope and be as encouraged by the stories and by Dream a Dream’s work as I was.
3. It takes enormous energy and time to identify these pupils and put them on the pinnacle of life and success. The humanitarian aspect plays a vital role in this. Barring all the difficulties one faces, do you think every person must spend some time on such programmes?
Given that we have been through a worldwide pandemic where all of us suffered some form of trauma – whether it was in losing people we love or in navigating challenging and difficult circumstances –I believe it would be helpful for as many people as possible to learn about the impact of trauma and ways to heal from trauma. In that way, I hope the book is helpful in showing some practical ways that help us to thrive. This can mean finding people who will listen to us without judgment, treating others with empathy and compassion, participating in extracurricular activities such as sports or the creative arts, and helping other people in our communities.
4. The book explains 21 stories of young people and children nurturing themselves with utmost care and health from different fabrics of life. What made you bring out this book?
Dream a Dream has been recognized globally as an organization that helps young people from backgrounds of adversity to thrive. By writing a book, we wanted to share some of their practices, share a few of the stories of young people who are thriving despite their backgrounds of adversity, and also share research that shows how to best support young people in general.
5. Dream a Dream has reached more than 3 million young people by expanding its professional development programme to more than 35,000 teachers in six Indian states. This is phenomenal. What are the future milestones the team expects to reach?
We hope that the practices of Dream a Dream would reach as many young people as possible. (please also see the answer to the last question.)
6. Before knowing more about you as a person, a few words to our readers and why one should read your new book.
Growing up in adversity is quite common. We hope that that book inspires many people and shows that with proper support from caring, empathetic adults and from engaging programs, young people can thrive.
7. To know more about you in person looks inevitable. Can you tell us more about yourself?
I am a former secondary school teacher and education researcher who has previously written about learning and teaching to thrive in the 21st century and how people and communities can create positive change together. I have served as the associate director of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Global Education Innovation Initiative and have a doctorate in education, dual master’s degrees in international education policy and teaching and curriculum, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature, all from Harvard University.
I recently supported a government program helping young people with backgrounds of adversity triple their programming content and increase their engagement rate two to five times, depending on the program area.
Get your copy of the book now from – Amazon | Flipkart
8. How was your collaboration with Vishal Talreja while writing this book? Did any brainstorming sessions happen?
When Vishal and I discussed what we would do together, we came up with the idea of my writing a book about the program that Vishal co-founded. I interviewed Vishal for the book. Vishal also reviewed every chapter to ensure that the details were accurate and supplied additional insights. His insights are acknowledged in the book. The book would not have been possible without his work and the work of many people who helped to make Dream a Dream what it is today.
9. How did this book and the stories change you as a person? Is there any exciting experience?
I learned a lot while writing the book and was quite inspired and encouraged by the young people who chose to be vulnerable and share the stories I wrote about. I came to believe more than ever that we need to listen to young people about what matters to them.
10. A general question keeping in view your work towards society: How do you visualize yourself and this initiative in the next five years?
I hope that everyone comes to believe that every young person has the potential to thrive and contribute to their own well-being as well as that of their families and their communities, regardless of their background. I hope that more and more young people know different ways to recognize and heal from trauma. I hope that more and more young people find people and places that enable them to feel and be safe, seen, and supported.
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Read more stories in our January 2023 featuring Maharaj Devraj Singh