Vishal Bhuva and Parag Bhuva

Recorded June 20, 2019 Archived June 20, 2019 36:18 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi003038


Brothers, Vishal Bhuva (30) and Parag Bhuva (29) talk about their family role models and cultural principles that influenced their career choices in public service. They discuss the challenges and fulfilling aspects of their work and how they balance work, family, and personal growth.

Subject Log / Time Code

VB talks about how he and his brother both work in public service.
VB reads a poem he wrote after a 30 hour shift at the ER at Cook County Hospital.
PB talks about how important his students are to him and how he started teaching meditation in addition to history.
PB talks about teaching his students about the Syrian refugee crisis and encouraged them to work with local Syrian refugee families to learn what their needs were specifically and how they could help.
VB talks about the stages of life and reflects on how he uses Hindu principles such as selfless service in work and in his relationships.
PB reflects on how he shows students that he cares about them.
VB talks about giving people the opportunity to share what is what he has found is the most effective way of building relationships, and making sure his mind is present in his conversations.


  • Vishal Bhuva
  • Parag Bhuva

Recording Location

Chicago Cultural Center

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:02 My name is Vishal Grover and I'm 30 years old and today's date is June.

00:12 20th 2019 where in Chicago and this is the cultural center and going to be talking with my brother.

00:26 And my name is Pogba. I am 29 years old. Today is June 20th, 2019.

00:34 I'm wearing Chicago, Illinois and Vishal Buffer's brother.

00:40 So we're both here at storycorps. So interviewing each other and I guess in Oak growing up. We eventually we both decided that we wanted to go into Public Service of some sort. You went into education and you became a public school teacher and I went into Healthcare and I'm a physician at Cook County Hospital and I guess my first question is so do you think that there was anything in our upbringing how they kind of lettuce to our paths or another ways what what Drew you to public service?

01:25 I think four for me one of the one of the big things was growing up seeing seeing our parents always looking for ways to to help others out my remember like whenever we'd go to like a Indian function or any sort of a holiday or so, maybe one of the last ones there helping clean up and just seeing how they can be making other people's lives a little bit easier. So I think that was no is one of the big things for me and I in terms of teaching itself, I

02:01 English had a lot to do with their relationships that I was that I wanted to be able to build with my students and

02:13 And the Annie with the more I found out about teaching in the more that I actually taught the the more it just felt.

02:24 Like home almost there. What about you? What kind of relationships did you want to build with your students?

02:36 So one of the things that that was emphasized to us growing up right was where's our interconnectedness with all living beings. So his idea that all human beings are our brothers and sisters and one of the

02:57 I guess the 19th Eng's and in my mind was was like, okay. So, how do you how do you actually practice at? All right with anyone who you see on the street? Like how do you actually practice at how do you know when people have so many different stories when people are coming from so many different backgrounds and I found that teaching was what allowed me to do that teaching. I really challenged a lot of my a lot of the values that I that I said that I hold and and and that I want to hold to be true. So for example, if I want to to treat everyone equally and if I want to to see the TC value in every single human being am I able to do that with a with a student who

03:48 Hey Buick, really disrespectful or maybe a really challenging to to interact with and can I still approach them and I'm with it with a feeling of love and a feeling of that. This is ultimately still a human being and still someone who I want to connect with. And that is I think one of the biggest rewards that I've gotten from teaching that constant challenge of how am I able to actually put into actions the things that I say. I want to be true in my life.

04:30 And you are an emergency medicine doctor. You just finished your your residency here at Cook County in Illinois. What would your you to two medicine and why emergency medicine? So I feel like growing up we always heard about our grandfather who is mad many times has dedicated his life to Public Service send you some he has created a school in India for for blind students who actively fundraises for so I can feel like that was always kind of in our blood just feeling like there is that we can use our life to give back to our society and whichever way we choose.

05:18 And you know our great-grandfather. Our parents would say would in a walked with Gandhi at the Great Salt March. So there's always this feeling that you know, we have a lot to live up to an end in awfully. We can also do something selfless in our lives and I feel like medicine has has always brought me.

05:45 In touch with my Humanity kind of like you said, it feels you you meet so many diverse personalities send people in so many different walks of life stages of life. And I feel like I'm constantly humbled by that on a daily basis, especially in the emergency room and every day I get to come home and just be reminded of of of of the things that I've been given in the things that I've been I'm grateful for after after seeing so many different people in so many different walks of life, and I'm coming to the ER particularly vulnerable and in many ways

06:33 So I mean I I I've heard a lot about the emergency room and emergency room doctors and the ER being one of the highest rates of like burnout for doctors and just knowing hearing what you stories that you've told me about. My people will you come across and and the challenges like emotional challenges of taking care of them wondering are there any stories that that stand out to you from your time as a doctor that

07:08 And and how do you how do you deal with a difficult emotions that that arise from from handling change challenging patients? So particularly at Cook County Hospital the public Hospital Chicago. We we have the most vulnerable people coming to our doors. Mom single moms who work three jobs bringing in her sick kid in the middle of the night. There are others father of a two-year-old's how comes in with his wife was terminal brain cancer from Poland to and doesn't have insurance and so many hospitals of kind of turn them down in terms of care for his wife. So, I'm desperately to two

07:59 To find a solution or to see what we can do trauma at Cook County Hospital can be a particularly tough, especially as an emergency medicine resident and I know sometimes I get the time to write some poetry very rarely when I went to have time to do so that definitely helps sharing with my wife.

08:28 Tough tough parts of my day definitely helps

08:34 I can share a poem.

08:39 If I if I'm a

08:41 Great. So this was after a particularly tough case in trauma call trauma my step into the shower. I'm taking my time today. I think tough morning at son dies his mother Mourns his physician warms.

09:05 During his second apnea test if he does not breathe that will be as time of death. I sure Softly.

09:13 His mother's eyes laser focused on mine yet what with grief desperately search for hope

09:21 We believe he's brain-dead and we're testing to confirm if he is tied if he has no breathing then he has died and we will disconnected ventilator.

09:34 Should I be giving more hope when I know the inevitable?

09:38 I try to prepare as mother with my words and touch my face somber but how futile is my task this woman nurtured this twenty-one-year-old in her womb for nine months. She wrestled him playfully as she changed his diapers. She watched her 10-month olds like a hawk ensuring his safety. She gave him her milk. She spent hours of her life preparing his food giving him values teaching him as mother tongue.

10:10 She laughed as her little boy tickled her. She read to him. She worked overtime to buy him a birthday present. She worked even harder to pay for him to go to college so much love from his mother.

10:24 And such beautiful dream she had for a child.

10:28 So how futile my task to prepare her?

10:32 Her gut-wrenching wail of Despair. She cannot absorb anything.

10:37 Her son. I just kissed her. Goodbye a few hours ago.

10:42 And I hopped onto his bicycle shortly before getting plowed by a speeding driver or just kept driving.

10:50 He has no reflexes. He has no spontaneous breath. His mother watches me.

10:57 And another six hours. The apnea test will be performed again, and you will be declared.

11:07 And I will be home. I finished my 30 Sleepless hours.

11:13 I'll be back tomorrow. But in this moment as my tears mixed with the hot water and sorrow hammers on my P I think of my own wife and child sleeping in the Next Room.

11:27 And time takes on always and I'm grateful for this day with them.

11:35 So writing is definitely been a good outlet for my emotions on tough days.

11:47 So this next year you're you're going to a fellowship in palliative care.

11:56 Has have experiences like this. So glad you two.

12:02 To pursue palliative care in to get gain a sort of special to you. What is what would you you to palliative care in the ER? We can I put so many different people quickly and we establish a rapport of trust quickly and even though I try to pull up a chair next to each person in each family it it's hard to spend time with each person in each family and no talk about their struggle and do more for their struggles props on a longer-term basis and talk about their quality of life and what we can do to improve their quality of life particularly in and sicker patients and more chronic patients and

12:56 Feel like palliative medicine will be here for me personally a very meaningful way to to go about that. And so I hope to do both.

13:10 Kind of going back to you as a public school educator. No, I feel like education is the most important profession in society raising young kids. They spend so many hours of their day with you. They parents trustee Educators to to not only prepare them for careers, but to impart values along the way.

13:44 What what drives you as an educator? And what do you feel like you've taken pride in as a as a teacher?

13:54 I think

13:58 Oh, really?

14:01 Brings me to work everyday and

14:05 And it gives me the most Joy is is really the relationships that I'm able to build at the students and

14:16 Those relationships they are so powerful because you feel like they are I mean date they are these important people in my life that that teach me so much to my students are and

14:35 And it won't my principal once once told me that the that the first few years of teaching were so focused on like am I doing this? Right? Am I like having having a huge impact? Am I?

14:53 I get in my in my checking all the right boxes because it's such a demanding and training emotionally and physically profession but as the years go on the mentality shifts from one of like am I doing this right to what did the kids need and having that transformation as a years have gone on in education. I've noticed that transformation within within myself of rather than constantly questioning constantly doubting my my practice and Mike what my lesson plans and everything there question is has shifted to what do these students need? And what do I see that they need that I can give them and one of the

15:43 One of the things that I've I've been increasingly noticing is is just the the struggle that my students face with handling just day-to-day emotions and difficulties in the roller coaster of life, right and coming from the background though. And there we did and we meditation was a pretty big part of our upbringing in many ways and a guy found myself really wanting to share that with my students and so I was fortunate to be able to bring that to my students last year and and teach a a meditation class.

16:26 And

16:28 The end the other thing that I've noticed a lot is my students feel.

16:36 I in many ways Spectators to to the world around us and I think many of us ourselves feel like Spectators, right? So many things are happening so many terrible things are happening in the world end and we feel helpless to them. And so then the challenge for me that and that

16:58 I often times think about is in my lesson plans in my in my units that I'm creating a cow. Am I?

17:08 How am I developing students? Who are?

17:12 Empowered 222 actually feel like they are not just merely Spectators in this world, but that they can make some sort of in and a positive change and Lease at the very least in the in the environment around them.

17:30 Do you do you have any particular examples that you can think of for maybe some of your kids should have taken your meditation class felt they can take on the world. So as it is interesting that you're that you tied both of those together up until now I kind of seen them as two separate things like the meditation was really too for their Spiritual Development because I find that there's there's a that lack of spiritual education and and goodnight when I say spiritual, I mean like that sort of a feeling of I am I connected to this world are not necessarily a religious notion but a a feeling of

18:19 I'm part of a community and I found that like a meditation. Just act of being able to just slow down to to notice the things that are going on around you.

18:36 Allows for the space for qualities that gratitude to to develop and ultimately a lot more create a lot more grounded student since I've seen I've seen some of my students become less fazed by by the by the difficulties of life and through through just taking small periods of time. Right? What I'm what I'm teaching them is very simple stuff but it's the challenge comes in the routine practice of it and the results often times don't show themselves within like while you're meditating the results oftentimes show themselves.

19:20 In your day-to-day life outside of their

19:24 And in terms of the empowerment in the

19:28 That that's more I also teach world history. And so that's that's kind of what I'm what I think about when I'm when I'm teaching world history of how can each of these units relate to something that's going on today. And how can I create space for my students to take some sort of action if they if they feel that they want to so one example is back when I used to teach in Connecticut. There was a this was during the Syrian refugee crisis and the height of the Syrian refugee crisis. We're learning a unit on immigration to the United States. So this was a u.s. History class and I related it to the Syrian refugee crisis. We learned about the Syrian refugee crisis what was going on and my students felt very frustrated and wanted to wanted to do something about it. So I was able to reach out to local organizations who

20:28 I worked with Syrian refugees here in the United States because the idea was that while we may not be able to make any sort of an impact on the US policy at least like for the refugees who are here in our state in our communities. How can we help them and and connect with them? And so I reached out to some of those local organizations they came in and we

20:56 And we work together to I give the students couple of class periods to create the first understand what the challenges of the refugees were when they came to this country. Right? So once you're here, how do you assimilate how do you feel valued? How do you even public transportation was a huge thing? If you don't have a car if you're barely speaking the language, how do you navigate the system in the United States and in rural Connecticut or in the suburbs of Connecticut? And so then the students were tasked with? All right, we'll create and working groups and create some sort of.

21:37 Some sort of product that will help them out and we had at the the culminating event of that after a couple of months was was a like a big almost like a potluck dinner where we we ate with the with refugees in Syrian refugees in Connecticut. The students were able to share and give their their Creations to the to the refugee organizations and some of those Creations are like used today still like so some of them were like the the students created a an app that had all of the bus stops in the Greater Hartford area, which helped address that Transportation need of being able to figure out how to get from point A to point B, and so small things like that and in addition to actually seeing the people who you're able to interact with and help out.

22:31 Having made a made a difference for those for those students and certainly made a difference for those are refugees who felt a little bit more at least at home. So trying to do lessons like that Trinity units. I got that relate more to two things that are happening in the world and ultimately and understanding that that if I want to make some sort of a positive impact on the world, then it's small steps, but it starts with me right I need to Natick on that's a question that I have to constantly ask myself to.

23:05 I'm going going back to you one of the things that I

23:11 That I admire the most about you is that you seem to have a pretty good balance between your career your family and in your own personal development and I often times think about life in terms of I know it's three big goals write your career goals your family goals in your in your personal and when I noticed most adults, I see so many people focusing heavily on their career developing their career doing a great job with their career as well as like spending hours and hours on their family, but I feel like I I noticed many many adults that when we get older it becomes a lot harder to change her that we're developing as a person or am I a better person this year than I was last year and prioritizing that so what are some ways that you have kept that a priority and that you have I developed as a as a person.

24:11 Aziz years as you've grown in and matured and got a new responsibilities as a father and and after you got married and now as a I'm at the doctor, I think I would definitely be remiss to say and I'm saying that it's your balance is always a struggle and I don't know if anyone can ever get it right. There's so many different parts of our lives that pull us in so many different directions and family responsibilities career personal development, and it's the constant struggle. I certainly am far from getting it getting and getting it all done. Well, but there are we in our culture

25:04 The Indian sages of you know, we talked about different stages of life and grew us. Shrum is as one of them. Where is more of a family life filled with family related to tease societal related to tease where you're too kind of done with your education and you're moving on to something broader and you know from from that perspective.

25:35 I feel like

25:37 Duties towards my family and what kind of father am I do? I want to be do I hold myself to a personal discipline? No can be tough, but I'm having regular regular time for for reading for for doing regular yoga Surya namaskar for doing for sharing prayers with my daughter with my wife on a routine regular basis that thing that kind of holds us together and I feel like that's not not not a strengthened US despite in Abingdon residency with the family.

26:24 So that that's that's one 2D that that that I hold and then in a feeling like I have an obligation to society and and my culture as well. We were both born in the us but we have strong Indian roots and I wake her up with this organization called sweaty. I establish by Rev Run show us where we've grown up with the idea that

26:54 In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says service to a child home read these tiny fish to which is that God that resides within every being and taking that thought and creating selfless relationships loving relationships with my neighbor with the people. I work with the people in kind of my own bubble. The people I interact with on a daily basis having is important and I think if I'm able to do that in my own kind of bubble my own sphere and if you know if I can exemplify that

27:34 I feel like I'm doing it doing my part in society. Hopefully I was a role model.

27:41 Black concept

27:44 In terms of in terms of going back to education for you know education is such a powerful feel this we've talked about and what kind of advice you feel like you would give to Future Educators who want to make a lasting impact.

28:09 I think one of the one of the biggest piece of advice would be to ensure that you're taking care of yourself in in professions. Where where your

28:26 Focusing so much on on the needs and the development of others. It's very easy to get burns out and I think we see this been both of our professions and so to have routines that

28:45 That allow you to stay grounded that that

28:49 Take care of your own self in your own needs and going back to the balance that you're talkin about help achieve like that sort of balance in the priorities and the responsibilities in your life. I think that's the most important thing for a for an educator who who is giving so many hours of his or her day to to the students and because someone who's burnt-out is is ultimately not going to have nearly as much of a positive impact or or even achieve like whatever goals that they're setting out to as someone who is who has that grounding or who has like taken care of themselves. So it's a it's a it's a interesting thing that like in order to take care of others. You have to first take care of yourself. So I think that'd be the the biggest thing what sorts of things do you do?

29:49 For me it would it would be meditation is a is a really big one which has allowed me to to learn so much more about myself and the way that I interact with others in this world and has given me the the space. I think that's the biggest gift that meditation is giving me excuses giving me that the mental space to

30:19 To reflect cuz otherwise it's so easy to get caught up in the Whirlwind of all the life that if I'm not able to take that time to reflect then not able to ultimately then even know what my needs are and take care of them. So meditation I'd say it was a big one and then and then even just physical physical exercise like going going gone for a run and spending time with the with the people who I am who I care about and who I love calling calling people out food. It's really small things that have to do with relationships if I'm able to maintain strong relationships and then I find that I go to the times that I'm that I'm the most grounded in the most happy.

31:16 Yeah, in terms of other advice for for educators or even I think one of the biggest things is like you reference at the beginning that ultimately I'm we're helping to shape you and being right and it's very easy. I found at the first couple of years as an educator to think about some students as I mean, you have so many students under that you're taking care of but like not addressing certain behaviors right within student. So if a student is like disrespectful then just kind of not really addressing it with them were helping them to understand like the impact that it has on you as a human being or

32:00 If I if I student accident in in a way that is that is like not agreeable or so. I feel like they cheat on a test or something like that then having those conversations and taking the time to have those conversations with the student because that shows that you are that you care about their development and that you that you expect more from them and I think that goes to shoot free the long way because then you're showing that you care about them rather than just it being this idea in your mind that I care about all my kids, you know.

32:47 So one one thing one other thing that I did I

32:54 I notice a lot in you is is your is your ability to create great quality relationships with

33:03 With almost anyone are there are there any questions or topics that like whenever you meet someone new that you that you use is like a go to in order to it to connect with them?

33:18 Feel like you know, everyone has a story to share and everyone else has full of emotions and feel like

33:29 The deeper relationships come from when we're able to share emotions with each other.

33:37 Hand

33:39 And I feel like it starts with people's personal lives when I'm meeting for somebody for the first time getting to know them what they love about their day today and what struggles they may have in their profession or their family life.

33:57 What's your who's in their family? And I think

34:06 People have fell on to share and when given the opportunity they love sharing and I think that if

34:18 If we can not in our discussions with with the people around us have a brother percent share of thing that goes a long way.

34:30 I can say the very same about you in terms of how strong your relationships are with with your co-workers with your wife with the people around you. What what do you feel like is in this is the biggest struggle in and creating these deeper relationships.

34:58 I think that the biggest struggle is

35:04 In

35:07 Taking that the time.

35:11 And being

35:16 Aware of of the of the time that I'm speed like the quality of the time that I'm spending with with the people. There are many conversations that I think most of us have where we may be actually having a conversation with someone but I mind as I checked out somewhere else right? So when I'm talking to someone am I able to actually just be there and listen to what they have to say and trying to practice that as much as possible. I think it is.

35:51 I guess that's helped my lease build the strongest relationships and vice versa. If I if I haven't been practicing that tonight and then I noticed that mine certainly wanders on you being present goes a long way.

36:13 Now I'm ready to wrap it out there.