Nita Narayan Shares Her Story Of Navin

As Navin’s sister, I look back at my brother’s life with complete awe and admiration.  Not only was he the most amazing and loving big brother, but he was also an incredibly compassionate and caring individual.  His American Red Cross involvement began as a means to fulfill a high school community service requirement and lasted through his initial diagnosis with cancer at the age of 17, up until his tragic death at the age of 23.  As an American Red Cross volunteer, Navin was able to empathize with local disaster victims as well as advocate for youth within the organization on a national level.  As I reflect on the 10 year anniversary of his death and the significance of the Navin Narayan scholarship I am reminded of a particularly relevant ‘Navin story.’

One summer when I was in high school and Navin was home from college we found ourselves in a classroom at our local American Red Cross Chapter.  Navin was teaching Infant and Child CPR to a group of individuals including myself.  During one of the breaks we noticed a colorful poster on the wall which had an African Proverb on it “If we stand tall it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.”  I distinctly remember Navin noting this poster, while I didn’t think anything of it.

At various times during the next few years, Navin would mention the proverb in conversations or use it in speeches. Its meaning seemed pretty obvious and almost elementary to me.  So I was quite perplexed when my brother seemed so drawn to it.  One day, towards the end of Navin’s life, as I sat in my parents room with Navin, I asked him to explain to me why he loved the proverb so much.  He responded:  It is important to understand the work of those who have gone before us.  We must have an appreciation of those who came before us, and why they were the way they were.  We must understand the path they paved for us in order to continue to pave the path forward.  How can those who come after us stand tall if we don’t stand tall ourselves?

Navin’s appreciation of this proverb reflects his humility- the accomplishments he made in his lifetime are not merely due to his own actions, but in part because of the foundation which was provided by generations of volunteers before him.  This proverb also signifies the importance of the Navin Narayan Scholarship.  By appreciating Navin, his involvement within the American Red Cross, and the importance he placed on youth within the organization, we are honoring the inspirational work he did for this organization, and acknowledging that there is still so much we as youth of the organization must accomplish.

Navin,as your sister and an American Red Cross volunteer, it is an honor and a challenge to stand tall on your back.

Nita Narayan, Navin’s sister

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