To achieve our dreams there is no need to follow the rat race – Phunsuk Wangdu (3 Idiots), a role played by one of the most versatile actors of Bollywood – Aamir Khan. The movie was based on competition that the young generation has to face in order to achieve their dreams and breaking all stereotypes it passed on the right message to the audiences all around the world and also gave us a real life example – Sonam Wangchuk who inspired Phunsuk Wangdu’s character in the movie.
Sonam Wangchuk, a 50-year-old engineer from Ladakh is known for the invention of Ice Stupas – little mountains/tall towers of ice that can help solve the water problem in cold desert regions of the world.
The engineer turned educationist was born in a village that is about 70 kms from Leh and spent the first nine years of his life learning about – holistic and harmonious ways. With no schooling facilities in the village, his mother taught him to read and write and spent rest of his time playing in the fields and animals, climbing trees and crossing the river. The race started when Wangchuk joined the school at the age of 9 and then when to pursue mechanical engineering.
After retuning to his hometown, he realized the scarcity of water in the desert cold regions and came up with the idea of building ‘Ice Stupas’. Learning from a senior scientist who has already worked in the same field, he decided to built vertical towers of ice – because the pipe attached to it bring water from up to the downstream and the pressure in the pipe is used as a fountain that sprays water. The water sprayed freezes in the -20 degree temperature and takes shapes of giant structures. These giant structures of ice during winter and when then use melted water from the same structure in spring. The genius invention led him to win the Rolex Award for Enterprise and the award money earned, Wangchuk invested that in his dream project – to create an ecosystem of constant innovation in the Himalayan region.
After graduating as a mechanical engineer, Wangchuk took an initiative to educate children in and around his village. His main focus was on the students that failed their 10th board exams and make living a learning experience for such students. Hence, he decided that the school will be run by the children themselves, they learn by taking care of farm animals, making food products, basically solve problems that people face in harsh climatic conditions of Ladakh.
Sonam Wangchuk believed “If failures can achieve what toppers dream of, then there is something wrong in the system”. A saying that is best suited for the Indian stereotypical community, where competition between children is killing their dreams each day. Wangchuk did not have the best education or did not visit the top schools of the world, but he has made a place for himself in this world.
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