Tuesday, May 14, 2013

MISSION TO TEACH: In Honor of Jhumki Basu

Soon after James and I began dating, lo these many years ago, I met his friend Jhumki Basu -- one of the most energetic, accomplished, and inspiring people I've ever known. She helped found a charter school in Bed-Stuy devoted to democratic learning, and especially to the goal of encouraging urban youth to pursue science. She got her doctorate at New York University and became a professor there in science education. She ran triathalons, wrote poetry, traveled widely, agitated politically, took care of her friends. And then in 2009 -- "tragedy" does not begin to cover this -- she passed away from metastatic breast cancer at the age of 31.

Now her father, Dipak Basu -- who is also James's and my friend -- has written a book about her life, entitled Mission to Teach. It is not only a full biography of Jhumki, it is also a father's memoir of his daughter; a brave and heart-wringing cancer narrative; and very much the story of a coming-of-age of a teacher, of how Jhumki's pedagogy evolved through her years of teaching and research, and how her work continues through the educational foundation her parents set up in her name. The foreword by Jane Goodall (yes, THAT Jane Goodall) states, "This is a powerful, beautifully written book," and in capturing the spark that Jhumki was to so many people, I couldn't agree more.

The book is available at all major online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can read more about it here, and about the ongoing science-education work of the Jhumki Basu Foundation here. Thank you for checking it out, and for keeping the spark alive.


  1. funny, just met you and then my brother forwarded me this blog post...

  2. It is always the most heart-wrenching when such good people are gone---but even more so at such a young age. I'm glad there's something tangible, and hopefully lasting, that will keep her "Mission to Teach" alive.

  3. Btw, Cheryl, as an aside, just for reference and clarity: I am also :Donna Marie on Blogger, and the same person from the NJSCBWI who sent you the SECOND SIGHT bookmark. I'm trying to remember to post with WriterSideUp, though the blog isn't running yet. I hope you're well :)

  4. niceeeeeeee . this book is so addicting to know about such wonderful young lady who inspired many such as myself...