Meet Medha Chandorkar: Bollywood Advocate, Dessert Lover, and Pundit Of the Week


Meet Medha Chandorkar: breaking news writer turned intern extraordinaire.  She's written for PolicyMic, she's worked for PolicyMic, and now as our awesome pundit of the week, she's here to talk about both.

As part of the "pundit of the week" blog, we spotlight one exceptional PolicyMic-er to share personal experiences with our community, and pose one never-been-asked question to a staff member. This week's question is for co-founder Chris Altchek.

Check out last week's Q&A with Lauren Rankin.

About Medha: She is a rising junior at Georgetown University, double majoring in government and women’s and gender studies, and minoring in justice and peace studies. Medha is a strong advocate of social justice, Bollywood movies, procrastination, and dessert.

Caira Conner (CC): First things first. Talk about when and why you got involved with PolicyMic.

Medha Chandorkar (MC): I first heard about PolicyMic when you all reached out to Georgetown University publication The Progressive, offering the editors another writing outlet. I checked the site out and loved the mix of politics and culture, and I also liked the idea of writing for a platform that reached a broader audience. I joined the team the very next week. It’s been a year since, and I’ve loved every minute of it!

CC: You just wrapped a paid internship with our breaking news editor, Mike Luciano. What's next? Do you see PolicyMic helping you get where you want to go? Anything we could have done differently or better?

MC: The internship was amazing. My writing skills have improved tremendously, to the point where I’m procrastinating even more with my college papers (all-nighters, leggo!). The experience also made it easier to stay on top of political and cultural news, since that was literally my job.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to respond to negative feedback, especially to my own ideas. Sometimes, you write an article and you just believe in the message so much that you’re positive nobody could disagree with it – and someone does. Learning to accept that, and then learning how to respond respectfully but passionately, is still a work in progress for me, but it’s an essential life lesson.

CC: You're passionate about social justice issues in the developing world. What drives that interest? Which regions or issues are of particular significance to you?

I was born in India, and though I moved to the U.S. when I was two, I visit my family in India every other summer. That duality has given me a unique perspective and made me realize both how blessed I am and how little some people in the world have. It doesn’t necessarily take a trip out of the country to see that, but that’s what drove it home for me.

More than just the differences in class, though, I saw and felt sexism in so many ways. When I heard stories about my aunts’ traditional childhoods, was cat-called literally every time I walked by myself, or when I studied female foeticide and dowry burnings, I felt a weight that wasn’t there before and that grew with each summer. I wasn’t able to put any of that into words until I took my first women’s studies class, entirely by accident- a class I took just to fulfill a history credit turned into a light bulb moment.  It made me realize that these issues I wondered about weren’t just personal problems but larger societal ones that needed people to fight them. It also made me realize that that’s what I want to do in my life.

I love India, but I also realize that there’s an incredible amount of work to be done in the battle for gender equality there. I’m already working as a social justice advocate in the States, but I hope to eventually expand my efforts to India as well.  

CC: Having been both a staff member and a writer for PolicyMic, any inside tips or insights for millennials looking to get the most out of our platform?

MC: Just allow yourself to enjoy the community. PolicyMic is a great place to get the latest news through a millennial lens, but it’s also a really cool place for debate. The more time you spend on the site, the more you start to see familiar names and faces pop up in the comment sections, and the more you can dialogue with real people and not anonymous usernames. Even if you don’t agree with what everyone says, just “knowing” so many of the people makes it feel like an extended family, kooky uncles and all.   

CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-in'?

MC: I’m a full-time nerd, so reading and writing would have to be at the top of the list. But aside from that, dancing is one of my passions. I’ve never done it professionally, but choreographing and performing at my school’s annual South Asian cultural show is easily my favorite extracurricular of the year.

I’m also so lucky to be a resident of one of the best cities in the world, Washington D.C., so I try as much as I can to explore the city and attend the amazing events that are always going on. One day, when I’m not a broke college student, it would be great to do the same thing on a global scale.

And lastly, I’m unhealthily obsessed with TV shows and movies, but if you’ve never seen a Bollywood movie, then you’re missing out! Start with Dostana and thank me later.  

CC: Your turn. What's a question you have for a member of the staff?

MC: My question is for Chris Altchek. As one of the co-founders of PolicyMic, you’re one of the people designing and planning the future of the website. What’s one thing you don’t like about the site as it is today?

Chris Altchek: Great question! Since we stare at PolicyMic 24 hours a day, we see many opportunities to improve the site. Our most immediate priority is to launch a completely new design that reflects our high quality articles, amazing community, and diverse areas of expertise. 

We are currently building a beautiful, immersive site that will give our articles the gravitas that they deserve. We want to make reading our site an incredibly rich and pleasant experience – that highlights the quality of our articles. We are hoping to have this ready by August to roll out.

Second, we want to deepen the voting and commenting process. We've realized that the current system does not accurately feature quality, so we're working on a new innovative Mic system to better highlight the smartest millennial voices.

CC: Medha, you're awesome. PolicyMic is lucky to have you, and we're excited to see what comes next.

For more news on Medha, follow her on Twitter: @medhachandorkar