Becoming involved with Project Green Challenge initiated a life-changing perspective for the 2018 second-place winner Aradhya Seth. Aradhya says he sought “something which can teach me” and PGC gave him that opportunity as an initiative in which students from across the world can participate. While at his college in India he decided to complete PGC which ended up being “just amazing.” He is still deeply grateful for PGC and Judi Shils because “I never imagined I would get the opportunity to do something like this, but I did. And Judi made that happen.”
By doing the PGC challenges, Aradhya and his fellow participants “realized we can actually make change.” One such change was to request the cafeteria at his college stop the usage of plastic straws. Aradhya describes how on the one hand, “it was a small thing to stop using plastic straws” and increase awareness of plastic consumption in his college community. But the impact of this action, combined with his engagement with PGC’s ideas, had greater significance. As he puts it, “I realized if I tried, I can do maybe even bigger things.” He credits PGC with shaping this mentality which has helped him stay motivated and pursue other amazing opportunities.
In terms of the overall impact of PGC – and how he felt being able to come to the US, meet the other finalists in person, and explore the bay area – Aradhya says he “was in awe of this whole organization… I was really thankful.” He still vividly remembers his time abroad: how he got to see several Bay Area landmarks such as Lombard Street and City Hall as well as explore natural spaces beyond the Golden Gate Bridge with the other winners (with the help of Sue Waiss and her van).
The spirit of ideas, initiatives, and learning fostered by PGC have clearly continued to matter and be present for Aradhya, who states, “I have learned to dream big.” His positive experience meant that he wanted to encourage others to participate in such a worthwhile challenge. Judi asked him if he could try and get around 100 students to sign up for next year’s event upon Aradhya’s completion of his PGC journey. He surpassed that expectation to get “around 150 students from (my) college” to become new PGC participants. Aradhya is also an active member of a club focused on sustainability which “did not exist” before he came to his school. He expresses the hope that it will grow and that the club could “perhaps connect with students at other schools” to forge connections between like-minded students.
Aradhya is finishing up his final year at the Oriental Institute of Science and Technology in Bhopal where he studies IT. He is interested in sustainable energy management and continues to reflect on the environment as he continues his schoolwork. When asked about current events such as the effects of the climate crisis, he notes that “it’s really important that we take action as soon as possible.” While he says that we must be cautious of the turning point, he also has hope for the future and our ability to mitigate the impact of climate change.