Resilience, Power, and Nuance as Women “over there”

I was twenty-seven when I realized the terms for girl and boy in my mother tongue of Telugu were not as benign as I thought. The word for baby girl, “Adabidda” translates literally to “there-child”, or the “child who belongs over there”. The word for son, “Magabidda”, translates to “our child”.

My sister and I with our Ammamma in Bangalore, 1984.

The belief that a daughter would grow up and join her husband’s family, and therefore is a liability, goes back centuries in India and other parts of the world. Realizing it was so engrained in language though — in one of MY languages! — shocked me.

Born in Toronto…


And a more conscious capitalism.

Artist: Bruno Iyda Sagesse; Image source: Facebook

Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.

— Milton Friedman

A few months into this global pandemic, we are at an important inflection point. While parts of our economy remain at a standstill, issues bubbling at the surface of societies are erupting, in a number of areas — from inequality, to the “future” of work.

Our current social contract is woefully out of date, not working for the majority of people, and extremely fragile.

We hope to help broaden…


It’s been just under a week of an unprecedented experiment called social distancing here in Canada. A term that has flooded our minds, our screens and our memes.

Everyone, breathe with me.

A week has felt like a year with the wildest news cycle many of us have ever experienced. Settling into a draconian reality, I’ve accepted that being #alonetogether will last a while. I’m working to stay grateful — for our food supply, our government, for empathy and compassion in our communities.

I feel cautiously optimistic that we will ride this out together, and that along with unprecedented loss, there will be some unexpected gains for society and our future. …


With a student team at the Hult competition campus Finals, Dec 2019
With a student team at the Hult competition campus Finals, Dec 2019
With team Rogha at Hult Campus Finals, UWaterloo. From L to R Rob, Heather, Qhalisa, Brandon

You know the saying “Ask for patience, you get a line at the bank”? Well, this year I asked for strength, and what I got were several moments of weakness. I eventually gained only slightly more physical strength (my core has hope for next year!), but a more surprising strength took hold: the responsibility to lead a more focused life.

Facing burnout

Early in the year, it was clear I was approaching burnout. No matter how much I slept, I was tired. I cared so much for my students, but I lost sense of where work ended and other parts…


As Valentine’s Day looms this year, Ariana and Ciara are speaking to my soul.

I never thought I’d say that about Ariana Grande, but here we are, in 2019, and it’s happening. Ciara, not as surprising — I love the idea of levelling up in life (I’m not the only one — check out this cutie in a Level Up performance!)

I’m so tired of the suggestion people give single, successful (in whatever area or form) women — that you can’t expect a partner to be as smart, conscientious, or self aware as you are. …


Baby Elo and her baby poncho (!) in los Paramos, Colombia. Photo: Diego Peña

Earlier this year in Bogotá, I heard a line I’ve been thinking about ever since. A teacher described the decision to make a significant shift in her career as “hacer lo que mueve mi corazón” (to do what moved her heart) and I thought, “Wow, how poetic. How beautiful. How powerfully simple!”

Yet I’m unsure how many people, including myself to that point, could confidently answer the question: “What do you do that moves your heart?“

The answer may be simple too

I’ve realized that for me, the answer lies in connection. Playing with little ones; laughing with girlfriends and…


School’s out in Prince Edward County, with one of my favourite mamas! Photo: Ryan Paterson

2017 was the year I realized I was no longer in my twenties.

I’ll admit, I managed to hold on to that exciting decade for a few extra years (I hate saying good bye! Other friends were there with me! I look young…ish!).

This year, though, I embraced it. I owned this “new” era.

I created hashtags as excuses to get out of social things, like #lowerbackpain and #bedtime. I worked hard at work I cared about and said no to distractions including *gasp* social media. I spent more time with babies and mamas than I did on dates.


image: linh.m.do / CC

Recently I had a eureka moment: for young professionals navigating the world, dating and networking involve surprisingly similar processes. Some advice to those of you having to deal with either (or both!):

  1. Be patient with the call/text/email back

This is a real test of patience. Both in the world of work and early on in relationships, put yourself in the shoes of the other, non-frantic party. Usually this allows you to be more measured about your approach, rather than leaving 3 voicemails for a potential employer or sending a string of texts to a person you may never see again.


Photo: Louis Vest, used under Creative Commons

On a recent flight, I found myself stuck in the middle seat. I wondered how long I’d be able to avoid conversation. (Who enjoys making small talk on planes?!)

The younger guy to my right plugged in his earphones soon after takeoff. One down, I thought.

But the unassuming older gentleman to my left was not so easy. He made eye contact as the plane reached cruising altitude, and offered me a wide smile. I couldn’t help but smile back, thinking well, there goes my nap!


Life getting wavy in Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo: Mriga Kapadiya)

I crawled into the past year reluctantly, facing uncertainty in my career and personal life. My solid teaching gig had come to an end. I was rejected from a promising global opportunity after months of interviews. I was accepted into a PhD program but didn’t feel motivated to jump in. I felt disappointed and confused.

The value in “What if?” questions

Beyond the cloudiness was a persistent nagging voice in my head, which knew there was something more inspiring out there for me. I asked myself so many what if questions: What if I could take a year off from…

Roopa Reddy

Learn ~ Connect ~ Create. www.edumodels.ca

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