Two Pike Students Bring Sneakers, Hope to India


The boys helped out an organization that empowers kids through academics and athletics.

by Bryan McGonigle (Editor), July 17, 2013

The following article was posted in The Andover Patch.

tl_files/Academy 2013/Crossover Donates Shoes.jpgTwo Pike School eighth graders headed halfway around the globe recently to deliver sneakers.

“They were chosen for their maturity, ability to adapt to new situations, leadership skills and they are fun travelers to be around for two weeks,” one boy’s father, Rajesh Mundra, said. “It is not easy being away from home and in another country for two weeks, and we are so proud that they never hesitated to take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

For the second year, Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy launched their “Hoops Creating Hope” at the American International School and St. Patrick‚Äôs School in Chennai, India.

In this two-week, tuition-free academy, 200 students from across Chennai participate in a program focusing on academic success, athletics, leadership, communication, teamwork and character. The purpose of the program is to develop individual skills and team cooperation to strengthen the region’s education and create community leaders.
While India has a rapidly growing economy, high illiteracy rates and low secondary school attendance pose problems in many of the nation’s communities.

From Pike to Chennai

Among the many volunteers – coaches and students – participating in the program from the United States are Zach Fitzgerald and Akshay Mundra, both eighth grade students at Pike School and best friends. The two brought about 50 pairs of sneakers to give the participants.

“When I first heard about this amazing opportunity from my dad, I was immediately interested,” Ashkay said. “Not only would I be able to travel to India, but also play basketball! Two important things in my life could be linked in a way I had never thought of. This was a chance that I could not pass up.”

Ashkay’s father, Rajesh Mundra, is in India with the boys.

“My wife and I love that they are interested in service, sport and working in another culture,” he said. “We knew it would be a mind-opening experience and an opportunity they would remember for a long time. Through service in another country, they will learn a lot about themselves and perhaps start to view the world differently. We are so proud of both boys.”

Zach was thrilled to experience the culture of India.

“I came to India to teach kids basketball through Crossover because basketball is a sport which I really enjoy,” Zach said. “Given the amazing opportunity to teach kids, in India, through sport, would have been a foolish one to pass up.”

Zach added that the personal growth the project brings is something he’ll take home with him.

“Through Crossover, I have learned leadership skills and techniques. During these two weeks, taking control and being someone that the students look up to, have been very important roles.”

The boys will return in a few days.

“It’s been a really great experience, and I’ve loved every second of it,” Akshay said. “Finally being with the kids is so exciting and at the end of every day I can’t wait to see them again.”

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