I composed the following post in Austin, but I had trouble with internet connections until now, at the end of my first full day in Delhi. I’ll post first impressions of India soon…
We’ve just spent two days in Austin, Texas. UT’s South Asia Institute hosted an amazing two day orientation for us. There are 16 of us – 15 women and 1 man. It’s mostly English and History teachers, but there are also art, music and special ed teachers. The people in the group are all smart and interesting and we’re having a lot of fun together. It’s going to be an amazing trip if all the estrogen doesn’t kill us.
I’m feeling much more secure about traveling to Sri Lanka and am really looking forward to our time there. Having learned more about the current situation and talking to people who live there, I don’t think we’re at too much more risk than traveling elsewhere.
Highlights of the orientation:
- a boatride on the river/lake
- watching the largest urban bat colony take off from the Congress St bridge
Some things I learned during orientation:
- My name is Samantha = Meraa naam Samantha hai.
- There are 3 you’s in Hindi, more than the two in every other language I’ve studied – one which is most respectful, one which is familiar, ad one that is intimate. (That’s for you linguistic nerds)
- The word “Islam” means “submission to the will of God,” much like my name, which comes from “God obey.”
- India is known as “A Global Player with Clay Feet”
- statistically more people in India have tv than piped water
- abortion is illegal in Sri Lanka
- there is an animated version of the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective by Nina Paley
We listened to an appalling radio clip from a radio show out of Philadelphia called Star and Bucwild in which the radio show host calls an Indian call center and verbally abuses the operator because she is in India, and what does that b—- know about this product he wants to buy for his little 5 year old white American daughter? I know racism exists, and I know that there is a lot of justifiable resentment about losing American jobs to people overseas, but listening to that language, that anger directed toward an individual in India who is just trying to support her own family, was really disgusting. It makes me embarrassed to be an American.
We had an excellent presentation about post-independence politics in Sri Lanka that really helped to clarify what’s going on in the country now between the government and the LTTE. I’m thinking it might be something I use for my curriculum project. I was really interested to learn about how organized the Tamil Tigers are. The Tamil Diaspora consists of about a million Tamils throughout the world, many of whom are contributing money to the LTTE, either voluntarily or under pressure. They even have a navy and an air force. The next time I post will be from India!
Jishnu Ji teaching us about Hindi
Me at UT
Largest urban bat colony taking off