Ishaan Chansarkar doesn't have any memories of living in India.

His memories of the country of his birth are the ones he has made while visiting, which he and his family have done every few years since they moved to the U.S. when Chansarkar was 2 years old.

This past summer, the 17-year-old New Albany High School senior made a special trip to India to teach computer literacy to children.

It was a "pretty amazing experience," he said.

Chansarkar said he was inspired by the mission of the North South Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gives college scholarships to students in India. The foundation raises money by holding regional educational contests each year from March to April at 85 centers across the U.S., according to its website, northsouth.org/public.

Each scholarship is $250 per student per year, according to the website.

Chansarkar, who became involved with the organization with help from his parents, began participating in annual educational competitions held by the foundation when he was in fourth grade, and he continued through eighth grade.

Contests include such subjects as spelling, vocabulary, math, science, geography, essay writing, public speaking and history, according to the website. Some students can go on to compete in national finals competitions.

Beginning in ninth grade, Chansarkar began volunteering as a teacher through the North-South Foundation, a practice he has continued through to his senior year.

Each week, Chansarkar helps prepare 20 to 30 central Ohio students in fourth through sixth grade for foundation exams by teaching them physical sciences, earth sciences and life sciences.

He said he "really enjoyed teaching" and imparting knowledge to others, so much so that he wanted to do even more by promoting education in India.

Although he was inspired by his work with the North-South Foundation, Chansarkar's teaching in India wasn't affiliated with the organization.

Instead, he accompanied his parents on a family trip in July. His aunt, Shahjahan Ali, helped him find a school in the village of Chaura Khurd, roughly an hour away from his family's home city of Roorkee in northern India.

Chansarkar taught at the school Monday through Saturday for two weeks. Subjects included typing, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, along with Gmail.

The students were excited to learn about computers, Chansarkar said. Even though their school had three desktop computers, they didn't use them because the school lacked the funds for a computer teacher, he said.

Although Chansarkar can speak Hindi, his American accent made it difficult for the students to understand him, he said. Some students were able to serve as translators for their peers, though, he said.

And even though Chansarkar couldn't write in Hindi, a few students who knew how to read English were able to read his writing for the other students, he said.

Many students learned a good deal about emailing and Microsoft Word, but they found Excel challenging, Chansarkar said.

One student, though, emailed Chansarkar after he had returned to the U.S., telling him how learning Excel had benefited him at his part-time job at a clinic.

The student used Excel to keep a record of patients, Chansarkar said. He said he was happy that a student found a good application for what he had taught.

Chansarkar said his teaching experience has left him with the motivation to find more ways he can contribute to India while living in the U.S. He said he wants to be part of organizations that help underprivileged people.

Chansarkar said he is not sure where he wants to attend college, but he wants to major in computer science.

Although life has improved for India's upper and middle classes since the Chansarkars left for the U.S., life remains the same for the country's uneducated, lower class, said Chansarkar's mother, Sara.

When her son approached her with the desire to teach in India, Sara Chansarkar said, the trip made sense logistically because it was a country with which their family was familiar.

Still, she said, she had some concerns, the first being heat. Temperatures typically can reach 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in India during the summer, and the school lacked an air conditioner, she said. Further, electricity to run fans isn't always dependable, she said.

Her second concern, Sara Chansarkar said, was her son's ability to understand the villagers. Although he speaks Hindi at home, the Hindi the villagers speak is quite different, she said.

Ultimately, she said, her son's trip opened his eyes to how life is for people who are different from him, and it taught him happiness can come from more than just material things.

"I think he has grown as a person because he has realized how different life can be from your own," she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah