Eastern Mennonite University students on an eye-opening cross-cultural trip to India have posted a number of reflections about their trip to the EMU cross-cultural blog. Scroll down to view photos and a sampling of entries.
Ben Zook (Canton, Ohio) on Old Delhi:
It wasn’t until Wednesday – when we visited the more archaic section of the city called Old Delhi — that many of us began to feel the culture shock that India presented. Motorcycles, rickshaws, and compact cars packed the streets as we staggered through the metropolis to tour Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, and eventually eat at a popular Muslim restaurant called Karim’s.
Luke Mullet (Berlin, Ohio) and a poem “Delhi Reflection”:
bound in new color
weaving and breathing
with human life
Hannah Walker (Chesapeake, Virginia) on time and the “City of Joy”:
We were told that Kolkata was an 18 hour train ride from New Delhi. The train ended up being 5 hours late and taking 30 hours to reach our destination. One of the “four rules of India” is “anytime after sometime,” and we were truly experiencing this rule! I cannot, however, say this experience was negative. We had the opportunity to meet and get to know some truly interesting people.
Maia Garber (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) and glimpses:
-Feeding the birds on the boat during the smog-obscured sunrise. I must admit that we ate some of the bird food.
-Trying on saris and looking stylish for the first time on the trip.
-Witnessing the national holiday, Republic Day of India. Everyone was cheering, singing, and running through the temple that we were trying to learn about.
Emma Petersheim (Linville, Virginia) and visiting the state of Goa:
I struggled with knowing that colonization in the world has been forceful dominance of one group/culture over another, but also loving the Portuguese-influenced art, music and architecture I was seeing…. I expected to learn more about the harm and abuse of power that the Portuguese brought upon the region. It was incredible seeing Portuguese and Indian culture existing in the same space….
Evan Davis (Falls Church, Virginia) on what it means to have enough to live:
The main issue I have been struggling with this trip: trying to justify my lifestyle of excess while being surrounded by the people who are negatively affected by my lifestyle choices. The way I see it, there are only a certain amount of resources to go around in the world. Though I am not directly choosing to take those resources away from the people of India, the fact that I do have significantly more than I need to live means I am indirectly taking resources away from people who need them more than I do.
Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Mississippi) outlines a day in the life at the Sarang Center:
7:01: Smile and grimace after Guru-ji starts class with “Three laps! One more! One more!”
8:30: Leave class a bit more flexible and with the knowledge that you will be feeling this in muscles you didn’t know you had….
Kate Kauffman (Goshen, Indiana) on Rajasthan:
Rajasthan, in Hindi, means “land of kings” and is the ancient home of a collection of forts, palaces, fancy tombs, and Silk Road oases…. In Rajasthan, history is visceral; it pops out of the cities at you, while at the same time reconciling its colorful past with the complexities of a modernizing future.
Joseph Harder (Bridgewater, Virginia) on camel riding:
Sheer terror. Upon greeting camels, one cannot help but marvel at their size, poorly masked ferocity, and similarity to dinosaurs. Evan and I agreed to share a camel, and chose a pretty (looking) one to ride. I decided to sit in the front, and, with the go-ahead from the camel’s trainer, began to mount. The camel immediately roared to life and began staggering to its feet with a burbling shriek and spraying of effervescent foam. I was quickly thrown off, landing with a thud in the sand. Great start!