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ADITI BELAME KUMAR

I was born in an Indian middle-class family and spent most of my childhood in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates where I was raised on a steady diet of formal education, strict cultural values, and idealism. Pictures of me as a little girl posing with camels in the desert and hugging various dogs fill gaps in my hazy memory. My ticket to freedom allowing me to depart the confines of secondary school arrived in the form of an acceptance letter to Tulane University in the United States. Six years in New Orleans taught me how to have an opinion, the seductiveness of popularity, and the radical power of being different.

My next stop was the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where I busied myself studying accounting, finance, and public health. Soon after graduating with an MBA I realized how limiting both schooling and ambition can be. A series of unfulfilling jobs hindered me from my private passion: a four-year long project that turned into a book on camels and the Arab civilization. My dream of curing cancer is now shelved in the dusty recesses of an overflowing bookshelf framed by a carefully curated gallery wall. I am five again, learning that work and play are not mutually exclusive, and fully occupied with creating beautiful, meaningful things.