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Reflections upon Summer 2012 – Natalia Choi

Team member, Natalia Choi reflects on her experience in India working with ITSA Summer 2012. I guess the word I would describe my overall experience with India would be “Up Close.” This word has been in my head since the first day of the trip when little kids came knocking (and some climbing) on our van for money until the last night when our group gathered in a circle at night to share things we appreciated about each other. Being with around 12-20  people throughout the trip (I realized just how around people I had been when I was waiting alone in the Delhi airport for 12 hours…), we were first of all, physically “up close.”

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Musings at the Gandhi Ashram

Piling seven people into a five person car (and five people into an eight person van),  we finally made our way to the Gandhi Ashram.  The premise is modestly designed: a series of bungalows overlooking blue, algae coated water.  The lake, now polluted, is entirely still.  I leaned my torso forward over the concrete ledge.  My vision of the immobile pool was perfectly framed by bridges supporting two-wheelers cascading their course.

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Inspiring Student Confidence

This letter was written by Rajvi Patel, a high school student who participated in an ITSA workshop in 2011. 

“The entire experience of ITSA was mind blowing. The workshops were great; there were so many activities involved. We played interactive games, had discussions and the program helped increase our awareness about the socio-economic conditions of our country. I now know that we are the future leaders of our country and this workshop helped me realize it.

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Intern Reflections – Summer 2011

Here is an article that our intern Emma wrote about her ITSA Internship experience in the Bard High School Early College‘s Student Newspaper:

This summer, I went to India. It was not, however, a vacation or a spiritual quest for enlightenment: I went as one of five interns for ITSA.

ITSA, which stands for Independent Thought and Social Action, is a social action organization co-founded by Jwalin Patel and recent BHSEC alum, Riana Shah.  Centered in the city of Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat ITSA aims to help Indian students attain the critical thinking and analytic skills they need to become independent, emancipated and capable global citizens.

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Ashni’s Hosting Experience

Honestly, I did not know what to expect when I agreed to be a host sibling. I’m very picky when it comes to making friends, and I don’t get along with everyone. From the very beginning Mariah made it really easy for me to like her. I agreed to be a host sibling in the first place because I wanted the experience of living with someone from a completely different background but as the date of the intern’s arrival grew closer, my panic turned into fear; what if I don’t like her, what if we don’t get along? These were the questions filling my mind but the minute I met Mariah I knew I had nothing to worry about. READ MORE

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Letter from host sibling, Deeksha

Here is a letter one of the host siblings, Deeksha Joshi, wrote to ITSA India about her experience hosting after her interns Ana and Emma left for New York City upon the end of their stay in India:

“This summer was unlike any other for me. I had two brilliant individuals who traveled all the way from New York City to experience India and stay with me. I wasn’t just a host and they weren’t just the interns; we were friends. We did everything a group of friends would do, from going to the movies to gossiping – it was touching. Their love for Indian food and the late night talks we had made me truly happy. I could never say that I was bored with Emma and Ana around.

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Who Should We Save?

Hey everyone! Three years ago or so, my group in sleep away camp had us all play a game.  It involved an impending and total nuclear holocaust and the ability to save only five people.  Each village member was gifted a single sentence descriptor of a person – mine was ‘seventeen year old heroin addict’ – and was told to choose which five (out of forty) were worth saving.
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“We must keep the 150 kg, he is most certainly a wrestler!”

Hello bloggers!
        
So far, I have just posted blogs about the sightseeing that the ITSA interns have done in Ahmedabad, but, as Emma already said, our reason for being here is not merely to explore the country, but to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the Indian education system. Before actually arriving here and participating in the workshops, Riana Shah & Jwalin Patel (the 19 year old co-founders and co-director of ITSA) had described the Indian educational system as extremely strict and rigid. The reason for this, she explained (I am going to give some brief history now, so stay with me), was that the Indian education system was set up under British Rule during the industrial revolution, and as a result was aimed at creating technicians, not independent thinkers. Consequently, the Indian education system involves a lot of rote memorization and teaching directly from textbooks, as opposed to discussion based, seminar style classes. However, not until I actually got a chance to participate in the workshops and talk with the students did this become evident. 

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The Monsoons

Hey all. I’m going to wax briefly poetic in this entry and I beg forgiveness in advance.
The monsoons started a few days ago, and I don’t have any relevant pictures.  None of the ones I took were good enough.  The rains had been teetering on the edge of release for my entire stay in Ahmedabad thus far, but hadn’t come.  The odd dryness lent, I realize in retrospect, an aura of anxiety and tightened lips to the entire city.  Without the rains, the year cannot progress.  Without the rains, the city could not move forward. It is thus with excitement and joy that they were met when they finally began.