The countdown has officially started. Three weeks left. I am completely astounded at how fast time has passed. Senegal has become my home, but in many ways I still feel like a foreigner trying to find her way. A few questions have plagued me throughout this semester concerning topics varying from cultural appropriation to wondering if my role at my internship was helping anyone.
My two fellow interns and I have had a wonderfully challenging and rewarding time at P.A.R.I without a doubt. We have perfected our interview skills, practiced our Wolof, learned about the refugee crisis in Senegal, and visited many homes of people desperate for our help. Still, we struggle with keeping our life compartmentalized. We wake up, go to our internships, listen to story after story of hardship (families who live off $1 a day), and then I return to my comparatively luxurious life as a tourist in Senegal. I struggle with guilt over the life I live even though I know that is neither productive nor necessary for me to feel. One of the lessons I have learned here is that using one’s opportunities to create impactful social change is the best way to combat any feeling of guilt.
...continue reading "A New Day"
During the second half of my time here in Senegal, I have been working with an NGO called Jeunesses et Développement (Youth and Development) to help them design a website. The NGO was founded in 1988 with the intent of improving living conditions for individuals as well as the collective in areas such as environment, health, education, and community development.
Jeunesses et Développement is similar to a scout organization like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, and it uses this aspect to help protect at-risk youth in Dakar. Jeunesses et Développement also works along side many other NGOs and organization, including UNICEF, to promote and instill values like gender equality, social justice, human rights, human dignity, and reproductive health. When kids have nowhere else to go, they can go to Jeunesses et Développement, which also - when necessary - takes responsibility for feeding and educating their participants.
Previously Jeunesses et Développement only had a Facebook page. I hope that the addition of a website will help them get their name out to more people and organizations so that even more kids can participate in their programs. I’m looking forward to getting to know more about this cool NGO as I work with them more during my last few weeks in Dakar.
When I arrived in India, it was August, and I was chock full of enthusiasm and suffering from a pretty decent case of jet lag (pictures from the first day we arrived can attest to this). I had gotten cozy with the Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai airports, and had my fill of airline samosas. I was thrust into a group of 9 other new faces similarly marked with jet lag. Torn between wanting to make a good first impression and sleeping for a million years, I remember feeling frantic, excited, grateful, and overwhelmed. Now, looking back at that moment, I cannot believe how much has happened in 3.5 months.
I would like to note here that being in India is NOTHING like the Eat, Pray, Love fantasies that Western travelers often anticipate (and for the record I find these images/expectations of India highly problematic; while it is not my job to police how people experience India, you cannot be a foreigner and stake a claim to a kind of spirituality or cultural identity that is not yours, and before trying to make it applicable to your life make an effort to study, experience, and appreciate these various cultural components). It’s hot, there are mosquitoes, the toilets are different, and sometimes you just drop all of your rice on the floor because you’re learning how to eat with your hands!
I have collected some pretty awesome memories in my time in Madurai. Here are some just to name a few:
petting my friendly neighborhood cow on an evening walk with my appaa,
playing peek-a-boo with my host nephew,
tickling Ganesh’s belly with Dr. V,
eating jigarthanda for the first time,
recreating the image of Vishnu, Srilakshmi, and Bhudevi at a local cave temple, ...continue reading "Leaving Madurai and On to New Adventures!"
By Ty Malcolm
Last weekend, I made a quick jaunt to Berlin! It's a city filled with historical and cultural museums, and I managed to see quite a few while I was there. Here are some of my favorites:
The Museum of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik , or communist East Germany, is a colorful collection of objects and interactive games showing life on the other side of the wall. This museum certainly packs a lot into a small space! There are endless drawers, panels, and levers to pull, turn, and flip to learn more about the section you're in. They've even squeezed an old car and a full-size model of an East German apartment. While you're there, try to manage a communist economy, watch a propaganda film, or type a letter on an old East German typewriter. But don't renounce capitalism and fall in love with the glory of socialism so fast - as soon as you walk outside, the bustling shops along the Spree will remind you which side won. Descriptions in German and English.
The Stasi Museum is a good follow-up to the DDR Museum, because it's the museum for the East German secret police (Staatssicherheit), located in their HQ building located far from the city center. I almost walked past the museum, because its old socialist architecture matched most of the buildings in the area. A warning: this museum won't help your love for the DDR. It details the overarching power of the Stasi - the informants, the home break-ins, the arrests, the executions. The exhibitions are even more interesting because many of the rooms in the building are largely unchanged from when they were in use. Although it is the farthest-removed museum on the list, I still think it's worth seeing! Descriptions in German and English.
...continue reading "Must-See Museums in Berlin"
I'll admit, it was a little nerve-wracking boarding the EuroStar in London bound for a weekend in Paris. I had never traveled for a full weekend away by myself before, but I knew I had to go to Paris at some point as part of my study abroad experience. I don't think there's any place on Earth that has the allure of Paris, the monuments, wide avenues, palpable history, thriving culture, cafes with the smell of fresh-baking bread wafting out into narrow alleyways. I knew my experience abroad would be incomplete without going there.
However, as it's getting close to the end of the semester, friends were either starting to work on final papers or already had travel plans, so I decided to go on my own. There are drawbacks, going for meals is a little bit different and you're deprived of being able to share a extraordinary experience with another person.
...continue reading "Alone, but amazed in Paris"
By Ty Malcolm
When people ask me my favorite period in history, I usually choose the interwar years, around 1920-1930. This time period brought about a radical shift in a wide range of fields - politics, economics, art, music, literature. In European capitals, artists and writers hopped between endless bars and cafés, exchanging ideas and styles they would use to describe and shape their age.
Paris attracted American expats from the "Lost Generation," like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Earnest Hemingway. Hemingway would go on to write A Moveable Feast about this period in his life, detailing his interactions with the Well-Knowns and Unknowns of 1920s Paris. Armed with my copy of Ein Fest fürs Leben (the German-language title for A Moveable Feast), I set out for my second visit to Paris. No longer tied to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, I could shape the trip into whatever I wanted!
While Hemingway and his family would have needed an entire day on the train to reach Vienna, for me flying was the clear choice. My preference for morning flights (and my financial limitations) conspired to leave me with a 6AM flight, arriving in Paris just after 8AM. The neighborhood of my hotel, located just outside the Luxembourg Gardens, was a very popular area during this time period. It was really interesting to walk down streets and boulevards that I had already read about. I visited the Institute of the Arab World, a multi-level museum off the beaten path. The art was beautiful... I just wish I spoke French so I could read the descriptions!
...continue reading "A Historical Walk Through Paris"
Holy moly I have one week left in India! It feels as though I just got here and it’s pretty hard to imagine being somewhere without auto-rickshaws, casual cows, and endless coconuts (and my ammaa’s cooking). As our time is coming to a close, my friends and I are trying to get the last of the remaining items checked off of our “India bucket lists.” Last Saturday, we had a full day that included paying a visit to the Gandhi Museum, heading to the tailors by the Meenakshi Temple, and eating some jigarthanda (guess what my favorite part of the day was).
As someone who really enjoys frequenting museums at home, I really enjoyed paying a visit to Madurai’s Gandhi Museum. The museum is a colossal white building with ornate pillars and a two-part staircase welcoming visitors. The museum is dedicated to the life and times of Gandhi, and provided context for the political climate in India leading up to Gandhi’s rise to fame as well as showcasing artifacts from Gandhi’s life. Next to the entrance of the first exhibit hangs a painted text the size of the wall itself, celebrating Gandhi’s ability to unite India in a time of political turmoil and unrest. The first exhibit was a series of 26 hand-painted panels, organized in a chronological order and outlining India’s history of colonization and its subsequent impacts on India’s economy, military, and day to day lives of Indian citizens. The following rooms were full of manuscripts, letters, and books that belonged to Gandhi. We also saw a piece of the dhoti Gandhi was wearing at the time of his death. Being so close to artifacts from Gandhi’s life was a very powerful experience.
...continue reading "A Saturday Afternoon in Madurai and End of Semester Vibes"
Compared to almost every other major city in Europe, London isn't exactly renowned for its food. Next to Italian pasta, French bread and cheese and Spanish tapas, bangers and mash don't really stack up. I was told on several occasions that going to study in the England, I'd be giving up good food for a while.
However, I really haven't found that to be the case. London is so multicultural that you can find delicious food from just about every corner of the globe... and I've even found some of the local cuisine to be pretty good too. Here are my favorite food places in London that won't break a tight budget.
1. Italian street food
Down the street from my residence hall is a park area that is filled with food stands at lunchtime during the week. My favorite is one that sells Italian street food. The stand serves up great paella and a delicious assortments of Italian paninis. I usually get the full house with breaded chicken, spinach, mozzarella and salsa. It's amazing.
2. Ponchon Korean Fried Chicken
This unique stand has become one of my favorite lunch stops near UCL's campus. They have some sort of special method of frying the chicken that leaves sort of a glaze over the breading. It's served in a chicken box over rice with a side of chili mayo. ...continue reading "My 5 Favorite Cheap Eats in London"
“What language are they speaking?” I could hear over my shoulder…wait what language are they asking that question in? Turkish, right, that’s where we are. It all just seemed too natural. “Englisch.” I heard the other man reply.
“Möchten Sie auch ein Tee?”
Ja, gerne. Dankeschön. ...continue reading "وَعَلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامُ"
Being abroad for this election cycle has been somewhat of a surreal experience, and the decisions that have followed holds so much social significance for the world over that it seems like the only thing to write about this week.
I watched the election results come in last Tuesday sitting in the conference room of a local hotel with my nine other students and my resident director. We started watching at 6:30 am, and I found part of the whole situation a little funny as the blonde haired BBC news lady said that we may be up into the “wee hours of the night” waiting for a final result. We enjoyed a free breakfast buffet complete with some extra soft idli, tomato chutney, sambar, Choco Flakes, coffee, and hard boiled eggs (these are just some of our favorite things at the hotel breakfast buffets we have encountered thus far).
The general vibe of the room was pretty tense, but we made small talk in between reports of closing polls reassuring one another of its predictability (“Oh, Trump was projected to win those states from the beginning, “XYZ county hasn’t been counted yet and they are definitely going for Clinton,” etc.). Despite these assurances, you could feel people cringe a little bit as the numbers next to Trump’s blazing red name went up, while Clinton’s blue had been unchanged for minutes at a time. I stayed and watched until 1 pm, and finally walked back to campus to gather my thoughts and do some work before the final results came in. Shortly after, I saw the New York Times headline that named Trump as the winner, and I took off on an hour trek to a bakery in a different neighborhood.
...continue reading "Experiencing the Results of the 2016 Election While Abroad"