breaking news
  • 'Countries to decide...': S Jaishankar on Xi Jinping's absence at G20 Summit
  • It was me': PM's doppelganger clarifies viral garba video was not 'deepfake'
  • 'Give death penalty if we...': Yoga guru Ramdev on Supreme Court warning Patanjali
  • Arrested Haryana school principal 'sexually harassed' 142 girl students, probe on
  • PM Modi checks on Sonia Gandhi during brief conversation in Parliament
  • On camera: Congress leader's son assaults student in Punjab, state chief lauds act

View Details

The South Asian Insider

Brother & Sister in Middle & High School set a shining example of Generosity, Problem-Solving, and use of Intellect for helping during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sana Merchant, a student at Great Neck South High School was excited about her 16th Birthday, she has been the heartbeat of her school friends and they were planning on surprise gifts for her. It was March 1st, 2020 and Sana's birthday was just a week away, things seemed normal in school and life was good, no one realized what was about to come. On March 2nd, 2020 Governor Cuomo held the first COVID-19 briefing to share details about the first COVID-19 case in New York, additional cleaning measures at schools, and more.
Sana grew concerned and curious over the coming days, she started to ask 'who are the most vulnerable in this situation?', 'How can the virus spread be avoided?', 'what can we do to help?'. She then decided to forgo all the 16th birthday presents by asking her friends & family to not give any gifts to her but rather contribute to a fund she was planning to donate. Schools shut down on March 16th, 2020 and total cases in NY were already at 2,952 by March 20th. Sana wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo on March 21st, 2020 and included the four hundred dollars she had collected for her 16th birthday. In the letter, she wrote "I am aware that this is a small amount of money but hopefully it will make a difference to someone who has been impacted by values teach me to serve our common humanity and that to save a life is, as if, to save humankind altogether"
In subsequent months, as the COVID-19 cases continued to grow so did the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Our healthcare heroes and first responders were using makeshift PPE in some states. Sana and her younger brother Shaan Merchant who is a student at Great Neck South Middle School started to research how they could help with solving this problem. Sana & Shaan used Computer Aided Design (CAD) to improvise and 3D print the face shields at home. Each 3D print took 4 hours to be printed and another half an hour to assemble and disinfect. Sana and Shaan ran 16-20 hour shifts to speed up their initiative and were able to donate all of the 3D printed face shields to the local police station in Long Island. Sana recently launched a new website to engage other high school students from all over the country to create 3D print face shields for first responders.
In summer, Sana teamed up with another Great Neck South High school student to organize 'Introduction to Java Programming' virtual course for 7 high school girls from the remote villages in Central Asia. The classes were held over 15 sessions where students learned basic concepts and created programs using Java computer language. With she aims to introduce robotics & computer programming to more middle & high school students in central asia.
During the 3rd quarter of 2020, Sana and Shaan decided to join the older adult outreach initiative that was introduced by the office of New York State Senator Anna Kaplan. The objective was to call & speak with older adults in the district, find out how they are doing and share information about the resources available to assist during this pandemic. Sana & Shaan made numerous calls over several weeks and experienced joy in the voice of these older adults.
Sana said "Shaan & I could not be bystanders during the pandemic so we decided to take the initiative and do a small part. My hope is to engage more middle and high schools students from around the country so that together we can mobilize STEM to serve the community."