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Monday, 1 July 2013

The Two-Week-Iversary

Hello readers, I am a new addition to the ITSA travellog! My name is Sadie, and I am a rising senior at Bard High School Early College. I'm excited to be working with ITSA this summer!

Today is the two week anniversary of arriving in India! It is crazy to think that it has only been two weeks—it feels like it has been so much longer. My first impression of India is that it is a vibrant culture, with the old traditions mixed right in with the new. This was exemplified when I went to the Ghandi ashram and saw business men walking around Ghandi’s house, talking on their cellphones. Or to see some women dressed in shorts, while others are wearing full saris. Also, as an outsider, you simply have to surrender to the culture of India. An example of this has been eating with no utensils. At first, I was a bit squeamish about eating with my hands. It wasn’t that I was grossed out by it, but I was just a bit confused. Will I pick up my cup with my dirty hand, or with the clean one? Can I lick my fingers, or is that rude? During my first real Indian tiffen meal, I finally just gave up on trying to keep my fingers somewhat clean. I surrendered into eating with my hands, and now enjoy stuffing my mouth with delicious pahi pouris in one huge bite!

We’ve been exploring the city as much as possible. We went on the beautiful Heritage Walk through the old city of Ahmedabad. I thought that it was a wandering walk through a beautiful neighborhood that otherwise would have gone unseen by those who are interested. We’ve gone shopping, getting some beautiful pants with crazy prints. We’ve been eating ice cream (I highly recommend Almond Carnival at Havmur), and enough lychees to feed a village. We’ve been watching hilarious Bollywood movies that are over 3 hours long. We have funny, and sometimes exasperating, rickshaw stories to tell. Now, we have more than enough inside jokes to keep us laughing for a looong time.

It’s been great to go through training with the other ITSA interns, and getting to know each other. Personally, it was comforting to go through some aspects of a Bard Thinking & Writing Workshop. The free writes are a time to just let the mind wander, and it really helps me organize my thoughts and to get them down on paper. Once they are there, it makes it so much easier to sift through them. I associate these free writes so closely to BHSEC, and to home, it felt like I brought a part of by daily New York City right into India. Also I highlight for me was getting an in depth lecture on the Indian education system. Honestly, I had no idea how it worked. After getting a lecture from an English teacher from Anand Niketan Silaj school, I had a much better perspective on what ITSA was trying to change, and had a betunderstood the kind of pressure students my age are under to perform well on the Board Exams.

Some of the best moments that have happened these past two weeks were during the discussions that have happened when the whole group was together. We got into some deep topics like violence, safety, and a multitude of others that I can’t remember anymore. It was gratifying to be in a space where everyone is bright, and excited to talk about social issues. The discussions were a great pre-cursor to starting the workshops, and brainstorming ideas to talk about with the students. I feel like everyone is happy to be here, and pumped to facilitate with the students.

Now it is time to get down to business! Putting training to the test, the workshop leaders are beginning to develop their curriculum. It’s going well, and from what I am eavesdropping from the meetings going on around me, they will be thought provoking, inspiring, and fun! There are some field trips in the works, and some mural painting as well. We can’t wait to meet the students this Friday!

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