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Funeral Service Held for Ravi Thackurdeen '14 in Costa Rica

Ravi Thackurdeen '14
Ravi Thackurdeen '14

A funeral service for Ravi Thackurdeen '14 was held yesterday at Jardines de Recuerdo in San Jose, Costa Rica. The service was officiated by Pundit Dowlat Budhram from the Costa Rica India Association and performed in a Hindu tradition. Many faculty and staff attended from the Organization of Tropical Studies, including the homestay family Ravi adored.

During the service, Ravi's instructors and sister shared many kind words. Ravi's memories and legacy continue to comfort his parents, Raj and Roshni Thackurdeen, his brother Sean '12, and his sister Savita. The family will return to their home in Newburgh, N.Y., on Sat., May 5th. Plans will be made for a memorial service for family and friends in the New York region at a later date. The Thackurdeens are very grateful for the outpouring of support that they have received from their families and friends.

On Tuesday evening, about 200 students and Swarthmore community members gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of Ravi, a sophomore who had been reported missing on Sunday after being pulled out to sea off the coast of Costa Rica. He had been studying this semester as part of the Organization for Tropical Studies/Duke University's Global Health program.

At the vigil, President Rebecca Chopp, Dean of Students Liz Braun, and Joyce Tompkins, interfaith coordinator, offered comments on the tragic loss to the Thackurdeen family and the entire College community. Cecily Bumbray '12 sang a soulful rendition of "Amazing Grace."

Several students spoke spontaneously about Ravi  as "an awesome friend," and "amazing, kind, smart, inspired, caring and an inspiration for all who knew him." One student commented, "The sparkle in his eye was quite distinctive." Aurora Camacho de Schmidt, professor of Spanish, read a poem [right] she wrote about Ravi.

Friends and classmates of Ravi Thackurdeen '14 gathered for a moving tribute to him Tuesday night.

Braun shared that she had spoken with Sean and his mother and expressed to them deepest condolences on behalf of the Swarthmore community. Braun explained that the family, which arrived in Costa Rica on Monday, asked to have photos of this celebration of Ravi's life to post on his Facebook page. She closed the gathering, while participants tearfully embraced, with a moving reading of excerpts from Theodore Roethke's poem "The Lost Son."

On Tuesday, President Chopp shared this information with the campus community:

"If you had the good fortune to know Ravi, you already know he was a remarkable and accomplished young man. For those of you who may not, please allow me to share some of what I know about him.

Ravi was keenly interested in public health, preventative medicine, and ethnomedicine and devoted much of his considerable energy to activities that furthered those interests.

This is perhaps most clear in Ravi's participation in the Swarthmore Fire and Protective Association. He joined the squad within weeks of arriving on campus and very ably served as an attendant on the ambulance during emergency calls. Last year, Ravi, who grew up in New York, completed the state's EMT certification course and was a member of the Swarthmore Pre-Med Society, Pemón Health, and the Global Health Forum. He also tutored elementary and middle school students from Chester, Pa., in English, math, and science through Chester Eastside Ministries.

This past January, Ravi continued to explore the medical field as an extern at Weill Cornell Medical College. There, he observed David Leeser '92, an assistant professor of surgery who specializes in pancreas and kidney transplantation.

Ravi's classes in Costa Rica reflected those interests as well and included tropical medicine and public policy and ethnobiology.

Ravi, a 2012 Richard Rubin Scholar, planned to major in chemistry and had served as a tutor in the department last semester. Earlier this year, he received a research grant from the College to serve as a research assistant this summer in Associate Professor of Chemistry Stephen Miller's lab.

Ravi was an amazing and focused student, a caring friend, a dedicated volunteer, and a wonderful brother and son. For someone so young, he had already given so much, and was poised to give much more. His loss is immeasurable.

We are mindful of the family's need to cope with this tragedy in their own time and we will share details for a memorial service as they develop."

To Ravi Thakurdeen '14

Ravi: the sea has claimed you for itself.
How could your human limbs have prevailed
upon such awesome power?
How could we - those who love you,
those to whom you belong -
how could we have protected you
from immense walls of water,
liquid mountains
to hidden laws of physics
that take them at a whim
to unknown centers
of silence
deep in the planet's core?

Is there a space in the Pacific Ocean
where your body is calm,
one with nature,
the very nature that slowly formed it
through the ages
in its formidable womb?  

Are you there, Ravi, with manta rays
and dolphins
in a city of coral and foam?

And can you hear our anguish?
Can you feel
the shape of your own absence?
Do you know how we ache
because we are powerless
and jealous of the sea?

We are now gathered in your name
in the silence
under the trees
and in our desolation
we give you back,
back to the sun of the tropical morning
that saw you - daring swimmer -
enter the waves,
back to the love that gave you
living blood and a heart,
back to the light of your big, hungry questions,
here, in your college,
and there, in that small country
teeming with life.

Ravi: only in this way
will you always be here,
breathing with our own air,
walking in our own paths,
reading our own books with all of us,
young man,
holding hands, joining arms.

You are, Ravi,
only in this way
forever ours.

                        Aurora Camacho de Schmidt

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