Krisha: "Confiding in someone you trust will not escalate the matter, but instead mitigate it. The bully is not stronger than you, and will never be."
Issue IX Young Person of the Month Interview Empower
Interviewed by Sadhana Mahato
20th April, 2021
Krisha Khandelwal is currently a freshman in high school. She is an International level Chess Player, an Indian Classical Singer. She is the founder and executive director of Let’s Defeat Bullying, an international non-profit that aims to educate and spread awareness against bullying and encourages children to seek help. She is also the co-founder of Project Injoy. In her free time, she loves volunteering with children, reading fiction, writing book reviews for her blog, and articles for other gen-z organizations like Zenerations.
Walk us through your chess journey.
Krisha: When I was about 4 years old, my dad started playing chess with my older sister and me. Back then, it was just another way for us to while away our time. However, my curiosity for chess was piqued by the time I was 5. My dad then put me under serious training and soon I started competing in tournaments. Before I realized, I had started growing fond of chess. For me, nothing mattered more than my game.
My first milestone was achieved when I stood first in my U-7 State Chess Championship. The next milestone was achieved in 2015, when I came 2nd in my U-9 nationals. Having stood 4th & 8th when I previously participated, this was an achievement that is extremely close to my heart…The following month, I stood 4th in the World School Chess Championship U-9 Girls held in Bangkok, Thailand and 2nd in the Asian School Blitz Chess Championship. In 2016 I came 4th in the Asian Youth U-10 Girls Chess Championship held in Mongolia. It was a great experience having played all of these tournaments.
Back in lower school I never had to study and thus practiced chess the whole day. I went for tournaments from one corner of the world to the other. However, when middle school barged in and the timings changed, my timetable was forced to alter. I was afraid that I would have to reduce playing my tournaments in order to be able to cope up with school. However, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with an excellent school who cooperated with my extensive travelling and were extremely supportive and encouraging for my Chess.
Right from playing tiring games for 4-6 hours in tournaments to practicing like there was no tomorrow, Chess has given me a lifetime of experiences. I have played with people from every corner of the world, faced my set of wins and losses and made a few friends and enemies along the way!
Tell us something about Let’s Defeat Bullying.
Krisha: Let’s Defeat Bullying is an online campaign to spread awareness against bullying, and encourage children to seek help. Our mission is to empower children and encourage them to stand up for themselves, and seek help. We are committed to changing the culture for students across the world. We work towards educating and spreading awareness against bullying, and we provide help for those in need and at risk of suicide, and raises awareness through our various programs and social media campaigns. Our mission is to educate parents and students about the detrimental effects about bullying, and work towards defeating it. We strive to promote and enhance social wellness among today’s youth by empowering and encouraging them to address bullying. We aim to enhance and foster a school’s ability to address bullying incidents in a proactive and timely manner through our programs, as well as by creating education and prevention strategies.
What prompted you to take action against bullying ?
Krisha: I vividly remember what it was like when I was being bullied back in 6th grade. My best friends were the ones who bullied me, and ostracized me from their group, and bad mouthed me throughout the grade. They made it really difficult for me to make new friends, and they would go up to people, and fabricate a story which was enough to convince the others to refrain from talking to me, and exclude me from their group as well. This was so frustrating and scary, and I felt trapped and lonely.
I really did not know how to get out of this terrifying situation, and I despised going to school. The only thing that got me out of that horrible situation was asking for help. Informing my parents and teachers, put an end to the bullying immediately. While I still did not have many people to talk to at school, I felt so much better knowing that I was not alone in facing the bullies. I was comforted by the fact that my parents and teachers had stood up for me, and had publicly called out the bullies for what they had done. Now, when I look back, I realize just how important it was, and how I took the right decision by informing someone older about what I was facing, and asking for help. If I hadn’t done so, they wouldn’t have stopped bullying me, and things would have seriously escalated. What I have gone through, is really hard for anyone to imagine, and unless you’ve gone through it, you don't really understand the magnitude of the situation. But I can tell you this, it feels horrible when you are a victim of such insidious behavior. The way you feel when you are being bullied cannot be described, and even though victims of bullying might not say it, they do need some help. I noticed how a lot of people don’t ask for help when they are being bullied and instead silently sit and suffer.
One of the main reasons why I founded Let’s Defeat Bullying is to encourage children to stand up for themselves when they are being bullied, and seek help. I know what it feels like when you are being bullied- how you dread going to school, how you feel helpless when you are being verbally abused and when you are being pulled down or cornered, and how your anxiety builds up. I’ve been through it. It takes time to heal from the consequences of being bullied. It takes time to heal from that traumatizing experience, and it requires help and support from those who you trust. It requires strength, and eventually you will emerge as a strong individual. Instead of silently suffering, and slowly losing all your confidence, you need to ask for help. Being bullied does not define us. We are stronger than that, and we will rise above it. We are all in this together, and we will get through this together. The best piece of advice that I can ever give you is to seek help. Asking for help does not make you weak or a coward, instead it demonstrates your bravery and courage. Confiding in someone you trust will not escalate the matter, but instead mitigate it. The bully is not stronger than you, and will never be.
Instead, the bully is just a normal person like you, who faces everyday problems, and uses bullying as a mechanism to vent out his/her feelings.
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, AND WE WILL DEFEAT BULLYING TOGETHER!