“A life-changing experience”
Born in Ganeshpuri to a single mother with three daughters, Monika Talwar never dreamed of leaving her small village as a child. The youngest of three, Monika had a zest for dancing and studying. Victim to the Indian education system, her creative interests were stifled inside the classroom. Along with her family’s financial insecurity, provision to fulfill her aspirations seemed unlikely.
Fortunately, it was at this time when Learning Space Foundation entered Monika’s life. In 2005, Monika became one of the first students to attend programs at Learning Space. Monika immediately developed an affinity to the supplemental classes that Learning Space offered. she was able to take classes in singing, art, and dancing, connect with her teachers and peers, learn to use a computer and gain confidence in her ability to speak English. She recognized that Learning Space offered a complete package of wholesome learning. She was taken to Mumbai for the first time by her teachers to witness cultural performances and to record an album called Peaceful Stars, a professional album created entirely by Learning Space students and staff members.
With an arsenal of creative and educational pursuits under her belt, she completed high school and was all set to enroll at university.
Although Monika’s mother supported her ambitions, she was unable to afford university tuition on her own. Providentially, Mr. Nitin Orayan, founder of Learning Space, wholeheartedly believed in Monika’s potential and resolved to help his student. Mr. Orayan helped support Monika, both financially and fervently invested his own time to her studies. Monika, with his and LSF’s support earned her degree in Hospitality and Tourism Studies in 2015.
Today, Monika is the head chef of Bella Cucina, a fine Italian restaurant in Delhi. She has travelled the world over while working as a skilled Italian chef, rare for a girl from rural India, and is passionate about her restaurant’s commitment to local organic food. Monika also hosts a successful YouTube channel called Cook with Monika Talwar, where she shares her cooking and dancing videos with an audience of over 26,000 subscribers.
After Monika's association with LSF, Mr. Orayan became her Godfather, continuing to offer any help from afar. Mr. Orayan, and all of the Learning Space network, continues to root for the success of a girl with umpteen talents. She remembers her days in Learning Space fondly and she describes her time as a life-changing experience. Thank you for sharing your story, Monika!