LSE Summer School students Seema and Suraj Korumilli, along with a few other summer school students, recently made a substantial donation of around 300 books to Barnardo's, one of the largest charity organisations in the UK, during their time at LSE.
They were inspired to give back to London's community and to make this donation after spending time at LSE for the summer, gaining both professional and personal experience to take back with them to the United States.
Find out how they started their non-profit Literacy Movement 4 More and how they plan to give back to communities around the world using their passion for education.
How were you inspired to start your non-profit and share educational books and technology with communities?
Suraj: The real inspiration came to us in seventh grade when we went to our ancestral village of Korumilli in India – same as our last name. Our parents took us there as a sort of coming of age - we went there and visited an orphanage which would then go on to be our first project. There are really bright children there and the entire village was a very homely experience. We felt that since we'd come from a place of privilege and a good neighbourhood in America, we wanted to share what we’d been given. So next year we went there with a crazy amount of books in our suitcase, at least 500 plus books.
Seema: We were really young back then too, we’d just turned 13 which is why it was a real turning point in our lives going back to the village where all of our roots were. This started out as our brainchild when we were young, and honestly the non-profit has grown just as much as we have over the last 5 or 6 years.
Suraj: I think LSE was one of the only ways we could have come to somewhere like London and get in touch with the community as much as we have. Spending an extended period of time being here and being exposed to students and professors, SU members and the communications team was really valuable to us, especially coming to London for two sessions of Summer School.
Just be fearless and go for it, we're all trying to have fun - and LSE has the best to offer. I loved the experience here.
Have the LSE programmes you did helped to give you insights into your non-profit?
Suraj: For me, studying marketing helps a lot, it gives you a different perspective on things. I feel like it's changing the way I think about our non-profit now.
Seema: I think what's really valuable about the education here, at one of the best universities in the world, is that I was able to get the best foundational knowledge on my business.
Do you think your passion for sharing literacy and bringing books to different parts of the world comes from your own education and studying abroad?
Seema: Definitely. This is my first time studying abroad - I feel it's such an important experience. If you're in college, you should travel even if it's just within your own country. I am very attached to all of my LSE professors, I think they're some of the greatest people ever. I was able to learn so much from them about life in London, they would give us so many recommendations - even encouraging us to go out to a different pub every night with our economics books to meet new people!
Suraj: It just changes the way you think, so it's good to take a step back and enjoy different cultures and see what people value. That why we're always really set on working internationally, and getting really involved in communities.
In terms of being LSE Summer School students, what was your experience of being in London in the summer alongside your studies?
Seema: This is the first time I was thrown into an environment where I didn't know anyone. I was showing up to events by myself - honestly you just have to bite the bullet and just go and talk to people - other people just want to talk to you too! I found it easy to make friends, a lot of my summer was about exploring the city, and going to restaurants and pubs together.
The Summer School staff we met up with to do testimonials about our experience were great...I love it here. You can tell LSE is a top tier school.
How did you feel supported by LSE throughout your time here?
Suraj: LSE threw a lot of social events, from the initial registration events like the campus tour and welcome reception to all sorts of trips.
Seema: I also got involved with things happening at the gym like zumba and yoga. I didn't take salsa because I had class but I had a lot of fun!
Suraj: It was always very easy to communicate to people here, there's a really nice staff environment. The Summer School staff we met up with to do testimonials about our experience were great...I love it here. You can tell LSE is a top tier school.
Do you have any advice for others coming here, in terms of entrepreneurship or coming to do an LSE Summer School session?
Suraj: My entrepreneurial advice: just go for it. A lot of people are going to say you're too young and that you can’t do it, that you don't have enough knowledge. But if you have an idea just put the time behind it and it'll come to fruition. It's very important to have a pretty solid vision of what you want to do. Most people have good intentions behind their actions, but I think if you want to make a long lasting impact you should be prepared to be in it for the long run.
Seema: My advice for the Summer School - really just bite the bullet. I signed up for a Summer School cruise trip and showed up at this formal event alone. I was so nervous talking to my Uber driver the whole drive there - but I met some of my best friends just hanging out on that cruise! Just tell yourself you’re going to have the best time in London, that nothing’s going to stop you, and whether or not you make a lot of friends you will definitely find one or two people who will be your people here. Just be fearless and go for it, we're all trying to have fun - and LSE has the best to offer. I loved the experience here.