8 Days Down

It’s hard to believe that my arrival in Delhi on May 10th was only 8 days ago. With an overwhelming array of new experiences (in the best since of the word) if I were to try to reflect on all of the week’s events, I would be writing a novel. Instead, I decided to compile a short list of 4 initial realizations.

  1. 5 Weeks in India is NOT ENOUGH TIME! Before finding out that I had received this fellowship, I agreed to work as a summer camp councilor from my childhood camp for 8 weeks. With a contract signed and a strict deadline of returning to the states on the 17th of June, I page wistfully through the pages of the big display book on India that sits in the bedroom of my homestay, “India: Land of Dreams and Fantasy.” With only five weeks I am facing a personal dilemma over whether to see a new part of India every weekend, or spend weekends embracing and exploring New Delhi.

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Shout out to my host couple for happily posing for this photo. Note the tea and English breakfast biscuits that we kick off every morning in my homestay.

 

  1. Following in the dilemma of #1, Delhi is a world of its own. It is really a microcosm of India complete with cultural heritage sites, bustling old markets, houses of parliament, the home of the president, sprawling supermalls, world cuisine, and everything in between. You could visit 30 times, never do the same thing twice, and barely scratch the surface. There are 140+ city wards in New Delhi, each with 4-6 neighborhoods. Each of these neighborhoods has its own rules, markets and distinct personality. In Delhi, one can experience some of the most enchanting aspects of Indian culture without ignorance of the ugly reality of poverty or the colonial history.

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Photos taken less than a block apart on Chadni Chowk Road (The backbone of Old Delhi)

 

3) Kids are Kids are Kids (Unoriginal but true nonetheless) When I introduced myself to the children I would be teaching at the Prajna foundation, I was worried about the language barrier. Once again, I was reminded how far a smile, a silly face, and friendly gesture can go with children anywhere in the word. Being immersed in a unfamiliar culture, I spend a great amount of my time noticing cultural differences and trying to navigate the unfamiliar. Working with children is a constant reminder of commonality. The kids at Prajna foundation even play the same hand games I played growing up singing loudly along in Hindi the same songs I learned in English.DSC_0056 DSC_0098

 

 

 

 

4) Lastly wherever you go, Michigan really will follow. I attended the University oMichigan annually Delhi alumni mixer last night at a happening place in the Defense Colony neighborhood. After the scheduled two hours for the event, I was witnessing Michigan alum from all corners of the world (who began the evening as complete strangers) happily chatting about everything from the big house to the nuanced ethical nature of teaching English in a formerly colonized and impoverished nation over flaming margaritas and masala peanuts. As we were leaving the event, my host mother learned over to me and said “It gave me such a good feeling to watch all you young people speak. You are all so smart and self assured. It helps me to know that our future is in good hands.”

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About Marianne Drysdale

Marianne is a freshman planning on applying to the Ford School of Public Policy with minors in Community Action & Social Change and Gender & Health. After graduation, she plans to study public health with an emphasis on gender and its implications on mental health and happiness. Eventually she hopes to work in women's healthcare access and reform. Marianne will be spending four weeks in New Delhi helping run art, dance, and meditation programs with Prajna, an NGO devoted to enriching the lives of children in the New Delhi slums. Marianne's final project will explore how creative activities benefit children living in conditions of extreme need.

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