Rajeev Kumar, Founder
Rajeev Kumar, Founder

My life begins on April 13th, 1988 in the small village of Akaunha, which is near to a small town of Bihar called Jaynagar. It is situated on the border of India and Nepal. I love my village and people there-  my agricultural fields, animals, rain, and the smell of soil after rain, festivals and gathering in festivals and ceremonies, those are my identities. When I was at the age of 10, I found a dramatic change in the attitude of our community. Criminal and illegal activities had increased and there was a time we were living in an environment of fear. It was not the people I used to love and it was not the village where I used to play and wanted to live. I just wanted to be away from that place. But that was not possible for my parents and especially for my mother. She will die but never leave those fields and homes that she has built with her labor.

The location of my village is like this: we had a ball from Nepal and a bat from India. We used to play cricket, as cricket is a very popular game in India. It was not just a popular game for us used to be a culture. My village consists of various sections of societies; rich-poor, Muslims-Hindus, touchable-untouchable except Brahmins and Kashtriya (according to caste practice). For me all, they are always the same- my villagers, not more and less, maybe it is because of my education. We were happy and satisfied, even with scarcity. We had happy surroundings, small clashes, and unbounded love. In festival time we all used to celebrate together. My family is a farmer by profession. But my father became a government teacher and because of that, we moved to a nearby town, which was not completely town and much far from my village. Since we have agricultural lands and my mother is a farmer, we visit our relatives and agricultural fields often. 

My grandfather was a great storyteller. He was working in cinema along with his family profession farming. I believe he has learned a lot from cinema that he used to mention. No night can truly be called a “night” without the inclusion of a story from him. For him, education was very important and that is why he provided a good education to his sons with good living conditions. I am very much inspired by my grandfather’s vision and his aura. He was always available to solve the problems of people through stories and that is why he was a significant judge in the Panchayat. I could see people’s love and respect for him from the crowd in his death ceremony. They were from different castes, religions, women and men, and children. I got this vision of my grandfather in legacy, which always inspired me to do something for our community. 

However, along with time, that social and communication gap was increasing. Our parents were much more engaged with earning money. I grew up and for education, I moved to Delhi. I graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru University in German Language and Literature. I got a scholarship to visit Germany and Turkey. After completion of my education, I worked with a few BPOs in Delhi but for a long period, I worked with book publication companies like Springer and Westermann in Pondicherry as a Project Manager. It was my destiny perhaps, I got a scholarship to continue my academics, which I had decided to drop. In 2017, I moved to Istanbul, Turkey for a new venture. I am doing a Master’s Program along with a teaching fellowship at Ibn Haldun University. 

On the one hand, I struggled a lot distancing myself from my village. However, I focused on myself but after a certain point, I started feeling guilty and irresponsible. My whole education was fading. I found the city life was no less distressed than a village, a happy and satisfying life in the city was just a perspective. The truth was something else.

In the Turkish language course, I was assigned to do a presentation with my classmates. “Umran” came to my mind as a topic to present as an assignment. Umran, as a concept, is a projection of a Tunisian Sociologist İbn Haldun. Umran is an Arabic word, which means prosperity but there is a deep meaning of Umran for Ibn Haldun, as I conceived it as a society, civilization, building or making society. I was not aware that one day this Umran, the concept of İbn Haldun – would be something that I will bring into practice. I reflected on my research work on Bauhaus. This was my research work in Master’s studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Bauhaus is an art and architecture school in Germany, which was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, conceived as a form of unity of all arts. I brought my whole professional and personal experience in communication to make a project and named it Umran.  

In 2018-19, I gave a visit to my family. Many people came to visit me, they made me feel more guilty saying “You were born here” and “Do you remember I used to bring for you this and that now the time has come to give those things back?”. I was not happy to see them telling me the bitter truth but, I had my reason for distancing myself from the village. I returned to Istanbul, but I was empty and their sentences were echoing in my mind. I decided to do something. I started thinking and came up with my old utopic ideas about building a school. It is big but not impossible. At least I will give my best effort and will not feel guilty anymore. I planned a step and further step to move up. The first step was opening a library, which I could do with my own money. At the beginning of 202, I successfully established a very good library dedicating my grandfather Sone Lal Yadav. The library consists of four sections as a set of culture- study section, a music section, an art gallery, and a café. It will also serve as a model of UMRAN Green Residential School. UMRAN Green School currently operates online by providing free language courses for fifteen languages as it brings people from all walks of life together on one platform. This language program has been designed with a weekly “UMRAN Cultural Program” and offers Hindi, English, Turkish, Arabic, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Persian, Italian, Korean, Russian, and Urdu, from A1 to B2 level. It brings people from all walks of life together on one platform. A weekly “Umran Cultural Program” is also organized online that brings together the language learners from several countries together to discuss ideas and share their culture with the broader Umran followers and subscribers. Today more than 1000 international students and more than 40 international teachers are engaged with this language program from both rural and urban areas.

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