Friday, September 23, 2011

Cave Dwellers...

     This past weekend many of us decided to take a trip to the city of Aurangabad to do some sightseeing. The area is known for the Ajanta and Ellora caves-two World Heritage sites. The Ajanta and Ellora caves are perhaps two of the coolest places I have ever been. Both the caves are known for being Buddhist Art Temple caves that are thousands of years old-Ajanta for its once beautiful, and now being restored, cave paintings and Ellora for its amazing carvings-all done by Buddhist monks who once inhabited the area. We learned that the Ajanta Caves were actually discovered by a tiger!! The story goes that people had been watching the tiger when it suddenly disappeared into the mountains, after following where the tiger had gone, the beautiful, hidden Ajanta Caves were discovered. Along the way we also made some side stops to Daulatabad Fort and Aurangzeb's Tomb (for whom the city of Aurangabad was named for.) The cave fun didn't stop there, however, as Tuesday my Environmental Perspectives class took a trip about an hour and a half trip outside of the city to the Bhaja Caves!!! Enjoy the sweet pics!

Daulatabad Fort

(Please note the monkeys are REAL!) 

Ajanta Caves

Ellora Caves

Aurangzeb's Tomb

 (These boys, as well as the family above really wanted us to take their pictures!)
Bhaja Caves
(Caught in the Act-Our Professor taking a moment to meditate while we explore the caves)

(View as we trekked to the caves)

Dachelle xoxo

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Politics is not above humanity..."

     On Thursday, we had the amazing experience of visiting students at the MIT (Maharashtra Institute of Technology) School of Government as part of a field trip for Alliance’s Contemporary India class. MIT-SOG is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia to offer a Masters Program in Government- training the leaders of tomorrow.

     During our presentation, we got to listen to each of these future leaders describe where they were from-the vibrancy and spirit of their home and their never ending hospitality (encouraging us to take a visit to Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, and India's many other states) as well as have the discussion open up to a Q&A session, in which many of the SOG students were interested to hear more about us. As we took the opportunity to ask the students questions (regarding topics ranging from the education system, to Anna Hazare, to what they plan to do with their leadership education), it was amazing to hear and witness their passion for a better India with a more efficient government that would make a difference and increase the standard of living for all across the country.
Education, and 
The necessity to incorporate Rural India into the political process... 
were some of the top issues many of the students pointed out. One student (who gets credit as being quoted for this post's title) had immeasurable passion on these topics, also touching on the necessity of better maternal health care which would strengthen the youth of tomorrow, giving a powerful speech that really made me think about what I have seen so far in India. As he went on to explain that India faces so many problems, I began to see that all hope is not lost as the young leaders we saw on that day hold so much hope for India's future and all of the improvements that can be made to make India a power in the globalizing world.
     Although still a young country, in my opinion, India has about it a spirit that cannot be contained either in the streets or, as we saw, in the classroom. Even as we pass students in Western-style clothing, there is still so much to suggest that they have not forgotten about their country’s rich tradition and history. In the season of festivals, this clash of Eastern tradition and Westernization has become apparent to not only myself, but several of my fellow classmates as well. Here in Pune, the streets are lined with stages in celebration of Ganapati, as well as many seeking to raise awareness about the issues of corruption, social justice, poverty and various others. As you will see in my post on Ganapati later this week, there is still a strong community tie as well as a deeply rooted faith-based tradition, all of which helps to keep India closely knitted and thriving forward.
     Looking back on my first few weeks here, it has never ceased to amaze me how India is bringing together  culture and development, moving forward into this newly emerging age. While still facing so many problems, India is not giving up (as we have seen most recently in the Anna Hazare movement, an exciting time in India’s political history, which we also got to discuss with the SOG students) and is willing to rise against corruption, lack of effective education, and the many issues that face its society to build a better, stronger nation. That is not to say the vast array of problems India faces can be solved over night, especially when looking at what is still ingrained in the Indian psyche from its days of colonization and the struggles it still faces because of this happening from just 40 or so years earlier. The fact of the matter is India may just need some more time. With an estimated 1.21 billion inhabitants, corruption, poverty, education, and healthcare are not easily solved problems, even with an increase in GDP, unless the government learns to allocate funds more effectively, a difficult task for a country still getting its footing. No great nation rose up in a day, after all. I see many of the same issues when looking at my own country (and in its history), which even hundreds of years after its establishment still faces many struggles.
     The hopes of the future leaders of India that we met at MIT-SOG hold a lot of promise, seeking to take action and bring about change. Some intend to take the long road to become directly involved in politics (working on legislation, with various parties, etc) while others plan to return to their agricultural-rural roots, in order to make their world a better place. The students, who were inaugurated as MIT's 7th batch of the program yesterday, have inspired many of us to see the light in India's future and we thank them again for the time they gave to us and the friendly arms they extended in welcoming us to their beautiful, vibrant, and inspirational country.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

After a brief Internet Hiatus....

I have finally arrived in India via Mumbai and Durshet to Pune, settled in to my new life, SET UP INTERNET (which is definitely an accomplishment in a city with extremely minimal wifi), started classes, AND published a new post. Wondering what I've been up to and how my first few weeks in India have been? Check out my blog for the Alliance for Global Education HERE  and get updated!! More posts on my adventures, trials, and tribulations to be posted here soon!!


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