It’s already week 4 in India! Sunday morning I had a dance lesson with a professional Bharatanatyam dancer. Bharatanatyam is one of the 9 forms of classical dance in India. She taught me a lot about the theory behind this type of dance and taught me all 28 moudras (single hand gestures) as well as some steps. It was super fun and I’m really happy I was able to do it. The teacher was pretty tough, but I really enjoyed that because being properly critiqued only helps you get better. I’ve never learned so much in one dance lesson before!
I spent the rest of the day working on my assignment for the technology class. Our assignment involved us sharing our experience of using Paytm, a mobile money app, throughout our time in Delhi. We had the option to made a video, and we could pair up if we wanted to. My friend, Sanne, and I decided to make one together. We had to interview different business owners and PayTm users on their perceptions of demobilization and mobile money usage as well as include our own experience and future recommendations for Paytm. Overall, we had a successful time, however it as very difficult to find women to interview and a lot of businesses turned us down when we asked if we could interview them. We finished the assignment that evening and it wasn’t due until Tuesday, so we were both feeling on top of things!
We started off the week with a lecture on colonialism in India given by our wonderful country coordinator, Abid Ji. We were supposed to have this lecture during the first week, however unexpected health circumstances came up and so it needed to be moved. We talk a lot about colonialism in our lectures and when debriefing our site visits, so it was nice to have an overview of colonialism’s presence in India. We had our last design thinking class afterwards and discussed the book “spaceship earth” by Buckminster Fuller. We had a site visit in the afternoon to a place called Dhriti. Dhriti foundation is an incubator that provides technical and life skills and financial support to marginalized groups that have an interest in social entrepreneurship. This place was similar to Impact Hub in San Francisco and Innovation Village in Kampala. We had a discussion about Bitcoin during or visit, which ended up being very interesting and was a nice change of pace from most of our site visits. Since it’s our last program week in India, it’s also assignment week. I spent the majority of Monday evening working on my anthropology essay.
We had our last site visit on Tuesday! We went to Sulabh International which is a toilet movement that was founded in 1970 to work towards the removal of untouchability and social discrimination against human scavengers. Scavengers are people in Indian society that are condemned to manually clean and carry human excreta. Sulabh creates a toilet design that does not require sewer lines and converts the waste into fertilizer. They also run a school and provide vocational courses for individuals from untouchable communities. When we first arrived, we were not aware they there was going to be a huge welcome ceremony for us. We had to stand on a stage and were given scarfs, and there was a lot of singing. It was very unexpected and quite interesting. There was an interesting vibe surrounding the founder, it was very worship like. At points, the place felt a bit like a cult. Nevertheless, they have done good work, and the Sulabh signs for their toilets are everywhere in India. They also work internationally.
I didn’t have enough space on my phone to send the technology video that Sanne and I made for our assignment. I accidentally deleted half of the videos in my efforts to make space on my phone a few hours before the assignment was due. Silly me. Thankfully, we were able to redo an interview at our site visit and re put it together on the ride back to Delhi. It ended up being a lot easier of a fix than anticipated.
We had all of Wednesday to ourselves to work on our assignments. I tired to get ahead a little bit, so that I wouldn’t have to spend all of Wednesday doing work. I finished my anthro essay in the morning and then headed to Humayan’s Tomb and the Lotus Temple. Both were very beautiful, and we were able to visit both in a decent amount of time. There is so much to see in Delhi. I have seen something new almost every day, and I still feel like I have so much to see.
Thursday was case study day. We all presented our case studies to the country team and our social entrepreneurship professor, Manisha. This process was the same as it was in Uganda’s and it seemed like we did well! I went back to central market in the afternoon to do some shopping for some more gifts I wanted to get and stocked up on snacks for the break that we have next week.
Thursday was our last night in our homestays and I was so sad that it went by so quick. My family truly was incredible and I feel so lucky that I was able to live with them for 3 weeks. Our younger sister, Mansa, was insistent that we try all of the really good Indian deserts before we left. We’ve had at least two after dinner for the past 2 days and today we took a walk with our family to get the desert with them. We had Kulfi, Indian ice cream, which is my personal favorite. I had to pack up all of my stuff before the morning and since I have been buying way too much here, it was quite the task. Somehow everything fit, but I’m not confident that I’m within the weight limits. I still don’t regret buying anything.
My host family wanted to take us to temple before we left, so we got up extra early Friday morning and went to the Sikh temple, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. During the drive there and while we were at the temple, our host father taught us a ton about the Sikh religion. I really love learning about those sorts of things, so I was very happy. The temple was absolutely beautiful! I have been to a Sikh temple in the US before, so it was really nice to compare my experience there with the one I had here. It was very early, but very worth it.
For our last few activities in India, we had our India synthesis and comparative summary of learning, just like we had in the two previous countries. The synthesis was the same as it always has been. We were given post-it’s with all the classes we had and places we’ve been and then had to connect them all together the way we thought fit best. For the comparative summary of learning, we had a debate about which country out of the ones we’ve been too has the most potential to make advancements in the social entrepreneurship and innovation landscape. We didn’t get to chose which country we represented. You were assignment to the country that you were on the country team for. Being on Team Brazil, I was given San Francisco to debate. This was a lot of fun, and the US won most creative! We argued that we have the most potential because we have the resources to work effectively on various issues at home as well as give money to countries abroad, like Uganda and India, to work on the social entrepreneurship landscapes of their countries as well.
After lunch, we headed to the airport to begin our spring break! The 5th week of the India program is a week where we can travel wherever we want and have a break from the program. I will be traveling to Goa and Rishikesh with 5 other girls. Everybody else has family coming that they are traveling with. I’m SO excited to explore more parts of India next week!