La Porte val to devote life to people of India
Between making straight A's and playing trumpet in a rock band, La Porte High School valedictorian Andrew Adler has been studying the Tamil language online.
Spoken in southern India and northeast Sri Lanka, Tamil is written with letters that look like Sanskrit, the classical standard language of ancient India.
Anyone who hasn't studied it or grown up speaking it has no clue how to pronounce it.
It's just very different than English," said Adler, who grew up in Pasadena and La Porte.
Learning the difficult language is more than a mental exercise for the 18-year-old son of Kay and Scott Adler, who has been studying Tamil for six months through a free online program from the University of Pennsylvania.
He plans to devote his life to the people of India, living and working among the poor.
I want to help train missionaries to teach the Bible and to help people in practical ways," he said. I want to help them build orphanages. My heart is for the people."
Adler is already at work achieving his goal.
Last summer he spent six weeks in Tankesi, a city of about 60,000 in southern India, where he taught English, history and moral science" at a local high school and gave lectures at a Bible college.
He also volunteered at an orphanage and traveled across southern India giving speeches to encourage others to help those in need.
About six times a day they would have me go speak," he said. It was crazy."
To finance the trip, he worked at the Kemah boardwalk and sought donations from supporters, including fellow members at Bayshore Baptist Church in La Porte. Altogether, he raised about $3,500, half of which went for his plane ticket.
Adler recorded his experiences in a blog, www.prayerfortenkasi.blogspot.com.
For his work in India, Prudential named Adler one of 10 Texas runners-up for the company's Spirit of Community Award to youth volunteers. Manuel Aragon of Prudential presented a medallion to Adler during the May 18 La Porte school board meeting.
Joanne Kolius, La Porte High School principal, said Adler is well-liked and respected by his peers and is impressive for his humility.
Some kids do community service to log it on their transcript, but with Andrew it's truly a passion of his heart," Kolius said.
Adler plans to return to Tenkasi this summer for four weeks before enrolling in the fall at Houston Baptist University, where he has received a scholarship for $44,000.
A straight-A student for 12 years, he also won a $10,000 scholarship from Coca-Cola. As part of the interview process, he visited the company's Atlanta headquarters.
Adler plans a major in biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew) and said he wants to attend graduate school for missions work or teaching.
The better education I have, the more I can help people," he said.
Kolius said she imagined Adler earning a Ph.D. in theology or related field.
I see him as someone who goes abroad and helps communities, helps children," the principal said.
He'll do it because it's the right thing to do, not for any other reason."
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