Exchange student from India gives back, gets involved at MHS


Unmesh Datar is pictured in the Marshalltown High School Library, where he volunteers an hour each morning. He is an exchange student at MHS from India.

Volunteering for an hour at the Marshalltown High School Library each school day is just one of the many ways Unmesh Datar gives back. Datar is an exchange student from India and is a junior at MHS.

Giving back comes natural for Datar, who also packed meals in West Des Moines as part of Meals from the Heartland and has volunteered with the Evening Lions Club. He said he loves to volunteer.

“If I get an opportunity to volunteer, I do, because I feel I owe something to the community,” Datar said.

The 16-year-old also likes to get involved in school activities. He had a major role on stage in the recent MHS fall play “Almost, Maine.” He also just started as manager of the Bobcat boys’ basketball team and is on the speech and debate team.

“It develops me in different types of skills, such as social skills,” he said of getting involved in activities.

Datar also participated in the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute last month in Des Moines. His research paper as part of the institute focused on food insecurity and water scarcity in India. He said following college he would like to find a career helping others.

“I really want to do something for other people,” he said.

As a result of all of his activities, Datar was recently named the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Student of the Month. His host mom here for the year is MHS teacher Janelle Hawk, who Datar said inspires him.

“She has helped me see myself in the future and shaped me,” he said.