So I will have you know that it is very interesting to be mistaken for a local in a place that is very unfamiliar to you. It is even more interesting to be in a country that shares the same name as you. Yet, I love it. It has been a dream of mine to travel to India one day, and I am still wrapping my head around the fact that I am here! La India is in India (that’s a real hashtag right there, wait on it)! Locals become wide-eyed with amazement and curiosity when they learn my name. Other locals and even officials speak to me in one of India’s 22 official languages, as I am mistaken to be Indian many times (actually could come in handy for the difference in price for tourists and locals for popular attractions). Yet, I think that ship has sailed now that my hair is a curly mess again, so I do get a lot of stares as I was told my hair texture is rare here. Nonetheless, I could not be happier to have such an experience. I even had a chance to participate in UPenn’s Forerunner Program to welcome incoming international students before they leave for the United States in the coming months to attend Penn. I met an incoming IEDP student, which is very exciting! It is even more awesome to be able to share this experience with a fellow IEDPer, making my time here a lot easier to adjust to.
I am currently going into my third week here in Delhi. If you were to ask me the first word that comes to mind when I think of India it would be: hectic. This is not necessarily a bad thing. India, especially Delhi, is one of the most diverse and busiest places I have ever visited. I can definitely support the claim of other bloggers and travelers in saying
that India is A LOT to take in. From the people to the food, to the heavy traffic in Delhi (crossing the street is quite an adventure if I say the least), India has so much to offer. HOWEVER, one thing that India does give a lot of is HEAT, and I wish mother nature would take some of it back. I took advantage of the 80-90 degree weather back home. The lowest is about 87 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is at 5 o’clock in the morning. So you can only imagine how it is during the day. Obviously, profusely sweating has become a new talent of mine. I seem to be a pretty nice mosquito magnet too. You know, just things I can add to my resume.
Despite the heat and mosquitos, India has been able to provide me with one of my favorite things in the world: FOOD! The food here has been amazing, and I get excited about every meal. Indians consume very little meat as a country, as many are vegetarian. Also, cows are very scared in the Hindu religion, so no quarter pounders. The Burger King, McDonald’s and other burger places have veggie burgers, mutton burgers, or chicken burgers on the menu. There is also a cheese that is very popular called paneer which is similar to cottage cheese. I find it to be very tasty in a Masala or curry dish, yet I have also seen it in burgers as a substitute for a meat patty. Though I haven’t had it in burger form yet, my favorite meat is very popular here: goat (or mutton, as they call it here and in other countries). I am on cloud nine knowing that I have access to all the mutton and various curry dishes I want. And roti! Oh, how I love roti and curry! The variety of spices allow for very flavorful dishes that have not left me disappointed. Did you know India is home to the largest spice market in the World? Don’t worry, I’ll share lots of pictures when I visit because it’s right here in Delhi! Maybe, I will come home with Indian cooking skills to recreate a few dishes. Overall, I cannot wait to see more of what India has to offer. I have not visited many places, but the ones that I have visited have exceeded my expectations. The beautiful architecture and the colorful fabrics that I see daily, leave me in awe. I just might come home with an entirely new wardrobe and bedroom theme. Additionally, one thing that I have learned is that one should come to India with an open mind. India can be overwhelming, but the experience is much more worthwhile when one is adaptable and open.
My internship assignment is at Sesame Workshop India. Sesame Worksop, a non- profit organization based in New York City, began in 1969 with the hopes of answering the following question: How can television be used to educate kids? The mission of the organization, which focuses on preschool-age children, is “ Helping Kids Everywhere Grow Smarter, Stronger, and Kinder.” Sesame Workshop is the producer of the popular children’s television series in the United States, Sesame Street, along with other similar television series in over 150 countries. It is the “largest single informal educator of young children around the world. Sesame Workshop India is located in New Delhi and has been bringing quality early education to the country since 2006. The organization’s tv series entitled “Galli Galli Sim Sim” is broadcasted in Hindi and several other languages on both tv and radio.
I am still becoming acclimated to the office as it has only been a short time. Upon my arrival, the teams were preparing to host ‘The Play Conference’ which delivered the final results of a two-year project conducted by Sesame Workshop and funded by The Lego Foundation. The project aimed to prove how children could learn valuable skills through play with the involvement of caregivers. Seeing the results of the study and how the government and other nonprofits were incorporating play in their schools and projects was compelling. I even got to see my childhood friend ELMO! I hope to be able to provide additional support and beneficial insight into the upcoming projects and daily tasks. I even hope to bring back some of the information learned in order to apply it to my younger siblings. My first assignment was to research STEM for girls in India and propose a program that could be implemented in schools and the community to empower girls through STEM. Science is not my strong suit, but I enjoyed reading about the value of STEM for children today, especially girls. I hope to create a program that will be highly effective in combating the main challenges that girls face in STEM. One example is the lack of female role models. My ideas are still circulating, but maybe I will have something concrete soon.
I am not sure what to expect in the weeks ahead, but I have no doubt that it will be both challenging and joyful. I have so many goals in regards to my personal, professional, and academic growth, and I hope to accomplish them all. I am expecting to adventure more this week and explore the city when I am not beat from the heat. I plan to have lots of pictures to share, but I also plan to live in the moment and take it all in. I think I have discovered a knack for bargaining, so more shopping should be fun! Stay tuned for more about my time here, as I am sure I will have plenty to talk about! #LaIndiaInIndia
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धन्यवाद: Dhanyavaad, शुक्रिया: Shukriya- Thank you (Only words I know !)