• Reading Level 5

Age 8 – 10: winner

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The Small Town Girl with A Big Wild Dream

Reet, Stoke Poges

Winner of the 8 – 10 age category, Celebration Day writing competition 2023

Imagine a young girl coming from a small town in India. Imagine not having access to things we take for granted, such as proper education. Imagine having big dreams, but little support. And yet, despite these odds, imagine, someone dreaming to go to space and achieving it. Imagine…if all of that came true.

This is exactly what happened to Kalpana Chawla, a distant relative of mine, who came from a small town, Karnal, in India, with basic education and yet became an inspirational Indian American astronaut.

Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian/Indian American woman to go to space!

As a child, she went to local flying clubs and watched planes fly past with her dad. Being naturally gifted, she received a PhD in aerospace engineering, but that was not all she got.

Adding to that, she achieved all this unbelievable success at a time that, unfortunately, females weren’t encouraged to do engineering, however, she and other brave, courageous women broke that stereotype!

Now, many children, such as my sister and I, look up and aspire to be like her.

Tragically, she was one of the seven astronauts who passed away in the Colombia disaster. In a very short span of her life of about 40 years, she has had a very positive impact on many people. To honour her, many streets, universities, and institutions have been named after her.

Kalpana’s story continues to stimulate everyone in my family for generations, and generations to come.

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