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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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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.
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Gandhi Ashram

Hey all;

Before visiting Gandhi’s Ashram, I had a sense of who Gandhi was and what he stood for, but I didn’t really understand how large a role he had in the public conscience. Martin Luther King Jr., who was inspired by Gandhi, left a similar legacy to us, but not nearly to the extent Gandhi has for India. His Ashram was an incredibly peaceful place.

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The Old City

Hi, everyone.  A brief disclaimer – please click the links for more pics or go to my flickr account here or here.  It’s worth it, I promise.
 
There is an assumption (at least among cynical New Yorkers) that when you travel, you never really see the full width and breadth of the place you are visiting.  To a certain extent, this is true.  Tourists tend to stay near tourist attractions, if only because they are safe and often the only place they know to go. But – and this is a large interjection – the full scope is there. All that’s required is searching a little further than we ordinarily would.  

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Initial Observations

Anyone who has read E.M. Forester’s A Passage to India will be familiar with Adela Quested’s continual desire to “see the real India.”

Throughout my time here I have been attempting to understand why, exactly, the “real India” is so elusive.  No one could show the impatient miss Quested the truth she was searching for, so in her stead I am investigating her failure (never mind that she’s a fictional character).READ MORE

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Historic Tour of Old City

Hello Bloggers!

So, today, on our seventh day in India, we went on a historic walk in the old part of the city. Similar to when one walks into China Town in NYC, the density of the people immediately quadrupled. Crossing the street involved ducking and running for your life, and walking in a straight line involved turning  sideways, and moving ones legs in a manner resembling the minister of silly walks (Monty Python). However, chaos aside, the old city was everything about India that one imagines.READ MORE