Thursday, January 26, 2017

Meet the 2017 SVYM India GSL Team!

We invite you to get to know the 2017 India GSL Team, composed of 18 students from across Cornell University's colleges.

Alexis P., ILR '18
Hi! My name is Alexis and I am a junior studying ILR with minors in Law and Society and Inequality Studies. On campus, I am involved with ILR's student government, Student Assembly, Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, and Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity. I am also a Cornell Tradition Fellow, Public Service Scholar, and I work in the Keeton House Office.
I am originally from a small town in Monmouth County, New Jersey, but I have loved all of the opportunities I have had to travel since my time at Cornell. This past summer, I interned in Charlotte, North Carolina and in the fall semester I studied in Washington D.C. I love to travel and I cannot wait to go abroad and immerse myself in India's fine culture.
What excites me the most about SVYM is the opportunity to truly have an impact in another society. I am elated to have this experience, and I am hoping to learn a lot about myself and to explore many of my interests.

Anant S., GH, CALS '18
Hi! My name is Anant S. and I’m a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in Biological Sciences, concentrating in General Biology and minoring in Global Health. I am very excited to be a part of this program and work with my fellow Cornellians and members of Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement through the GSL program.

As someone who was born in India but moved to the United States at a very young age, I’ve always made efforts to remain connected to my culture and heritage, whether it was visiting family or learning Hindi with my grandma. I had the privilege to volunteer for some time during high school in India and have been motivated to return ever since to continue to give back to the country. This program affords me that opportunity: to connect further with my country in an entirely new way.

On campus, I am a member of the Cornell International Affairs Society (CIAS). Through CIAS, I am a member of the Model UN travel team, competing in conferences at reputed schools across the Northeast. I am also the Director of Operations for the Cornell Model United Nations Conference, a student-run Model UN conference for high schoolers hosted on the Cornell campus.My experience with CIAS continually broadens my understanding through the varying viewpoints of my peers and the assessment of problems through a global lens. I hope to utilize this along with my drive to continue work in India over the summer to learn and better communicate with communities in Mysore and Karnataka through SVYM.

Annika B., GH '19
Hi, my name is Annika Bjerke, and I am currently a sophomore in the college of Arts and Sciences. I am majoring in Anthropology, specifically concentrating in medical anthropology, and minoring in both global health and art history. Through this combination of interdisciplinary studies, I hope to pursue a career in health policy with a unique cultural lens provided by a study in human society, customs and beliefs. In my spare time I am a Museum Educator at the Johnson Museum of Art, captain of the club swim team, work as a lifeguard on campus, and serve on the policy and standards board of Pi Beta Phi sorority.

I have a particular interest in gender inequalities as they are connected to health and education opportunities for women, and through this program I hope to gain experiential knowledge and understanding of how this is related to India.I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with SVYM, and I am so excited to spend the summer in Mysore, India!
Autumn F., ILR '19
My name is Autumn F. and I am from Anacortes, Washington. I am a current sophomore at Cornell University majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations. I am looking forward to expanding my horizons this summer in India all the while doing my best to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others. 

On Cornell’s campus I work to spread awareness and seek the prevention of the commercial sexual exploitation of children as Treasurer of Students Against the Sexual Solicitation of Youth. In addition, as a chair member of Cornell Colleges Against Cancer, I assist in the coordination of Relay for Life and its efforts to fight back against cancer. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to not only experience a rich and vibrant culture, but to utilize my time and abilities to serve the truly altruistic organization that is the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement.

Caroline M., GH '19
Hi! My name is Caroline Motzer and I am a current sophomore at Cornell University studying International Agriculture and Rural development with minors in Soil Science and Global Health. My hometown is Seattle, Washington although this past summer my family and I recently moved to South Carolina. I have heard many great things about this program and cannot wait to begin my journey with SVYM and the other students going on this trip.

Outside of the classroom, I am a member of the Cornell Women’s Varsity Rowing team, a CALS ambassador, a youth leader for Education Across Borders and a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. I have a strong interest in international agriculture and throughout my studies I have found that lifestyle, health, agriculture and policy are all interconnected. I cannot wait to explore these ideas and apply them in a more healthcare specific setting.

Clara C., ILR '19
Hello! my name is Clara Chung and I'm a sophomore in ILR. I'm really excited to be a part of this program and look forward to working with SVYM. I am interested in education and equality studies and would love to gain a greater understanding into the challenges of education policy in Mysore, India. 

This past winter, I participated in the ILR Engaged Learning Opportunity in Vietnam. I engaged in research about Corporate Social Responsibility. My experience in Vietnam sparked within me the passion for comparative learning, which I am looking forward to bringing to India. I am excited to experience the wealth of India’s culture and rich heritage in order to best serve the community.

On Cornell's campus, I am involved with Minority ILR Student Organization and the Cornell Alpha Fund. I am also the President of the Financial Risk Management Club at Cornell. 

Clare M., ILR '20
My name is Clare M. I am a rising sophomore in the ILR School and hope to pursue minors in Business as well as Design and Environmental Analysis. I cannot wait to learn more about the work that SVYM does in India and hope it will help inform my career decisions. While unsure what career path I will follow, I know it will involve helping local communities in some form or another. Outside of class, I connect with alumni and raise money for Cornell University through the Cornell Annual Fund. I like to journal, sketch, watch documentaries, and create computer graphics. I also enjoy attending yoga classes and hope to eventually teach yoga to traditionally underserved groups, especially the elderly, children, those with disabilities, and those who cannot afford yoga studio classes in their communities.

Estefania P., ILR '18
Hello! My name is Estefania Palacios. I’m from Ecuador, and I am a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. I found out about the GSL program at SVYM way before applying to Cornell University, so I’m incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity. My interest is law and public policy with a focus on women’s rights and social justice in the workforce. Outside of the classroom, I'm involved with the Spanish Speech and Debate Society, the Minority ILR Student Organization, and various women’s rights clubs. I look forward to spending this summer in India- immersing myself in its culture and working alongside the rest of the GSL team!
Hany Z., ILR '19
Hi! My name is Hany Z. and I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela, but grew up in Miami, FL. I am currently a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations, minoring in Business and Art History. I am extremely excited to be participating in the ILR India program with SVYM. On campus I work at the Catherwood Library as a Circulation Desk Student Assistant. Additionally, I am a member of the Cornell Chabad Student Board, a writer on the Cornell Daily Sun, part of Slope Media Group, and a member of Rise Dance Troupe. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in Law or Human Resource Management. I love traveling and gaining knowledge and perspective from those around me. I can’t wait to learn about the educational system in India and help SVYM achieve its goals, while also developing invaluable skills. 

Irene L., GH '19
Hi! My name is Irene and I am a Global and Public Health Sciences major hailing from Los Angeles, California. I am incredibly excited to be a part of this wonderful program and cannot wait to get to know everyone at SYVM. At Cornell, I am involved in a group called GlobeMed, an organization that raises money for water filters in Comitancillo, Guatemala. Last summer, I was honored to be given the opportunity to travel to Comitancillo to meet community members and our partner organization, AMMID. In addition to my interest in global health, I am also passionate about urban health disparities in the context of the United States' criminal justice system. I am involved in research and community work regarding re-entry and sentencing policy. 

Jaelle S., ILR '19
Hello! My name is Jaelle Sanon and I am a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. I am originally from Haiti but have been living in Boston, Massachusetts for the past 11 years. On campus, I work as a resident advisor while holding leadership positions in various clubs that strive to improve the experience of marginalized groups on campus. 

I am very excited to travel to India this upcoming summer and cannot wait to learn and work with SVYM in order to assist them in carrying out their mission. My career aspirations align very well with the ILR curriculum however I am most passionate about law and the labor movement. This passion stems from my work with labor unions and organizations in Boston that advocate for the improvement of lives of workers through initiatives such as minimum wage and earned sick time laws. 
This summer, I hope to learn more about SVYM and the impact that it has on the community that it serves. I also hope to learn about ways I can help their efforts even after the summer is over. Finally, I cannot wait to immerse myself in the culture and way of life in India.      

Julia B., GH '19
Hi! My name is Julia B. I am currently a sophomore studying Government with a minor in Global Health. I am looking forward to learning about India’s health systems through classes and volunteering on SVYM’s projects. I am most interested in the intersection of public health and social justice, and SVYM’s work within this field provides their community members with the best possible care.

On campus I engage in public health projects by working with GlobeMed at Cornell and Planned Parenthood Generation Action. Last summer I worked at NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, where I participated in the research side of public health projects. In India, I look forward to having a more hands-on role on SVYM’s projects. In addition to working on the projects, I am also excited to travel, experience a new culture, and take classes in India. 

Meaghan G, ILR '19
My name is Meaghan and I am a sophomore in the ILR School pursuing minors in Business and Inequality Studies. I am very excited for the opportunity to participate in service learning in India this summer!

On campus, I work in the ILR Office of Career Services as the Marketing and Communications Assistant/Peer Advisor and the Balch Hall Womyn's Center as an ambassador. I am also involved in Cornell Class Councils, Society for Human Resource Management, the SchoolGirl Project, and ILR Ambassadors. Last summer I was a High Road Fellow placed at an education non-profit called Say Yes to Education Buffalo.  I am looking forward to exploring education and health through a global context and immersing myself in all that this experience has to offer.

Mikayla W., ILR '18
Hello! I’m Mikayla W. and I was raised in Monaca, Pennsylvania. I’m currently a junior at Cornell University with a major in Industrial and Labor Relations, and with minors in Inequality Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. On campus, I work as a manager at Cornell Community Center Programs. I am involved with the Women’s Resource Center, ILR Women’s Caucus, and Ordinary People, Cornell’s social justice and peer education theater troupe. Additionally, I work remotely for the New York Center for Law and Justice, an organization dedicated to providing free legal services to deaf individuals in New York City. In the future, I hope to work for an organization that helps to improve the lives of disadvantaged people. I am thrilled to have to opportunity to learn more about the impactful work that SVYM does.

Nicolas H., ILR '19
My name is Nicolas Hernandez and I’m honored to be part of the India GSL Cornell team for 2017. I’m a sophomore transfer student into the School of ILR and originally from Downey, California in the Los Angeles county. I spent my first year at Boston University where I had my first experience of life on the East Coast, so I’m no stranger to the snow! I’m interested in the role of nonprofit organizations and their effects on the community around them, which is why I made the transfer into ILR. I’ve also gained some interest into the idea of management consulting but that career path was unheard of to me until I came to Cornell.

What I hope to gain from my time and work in Southern India is a first-hand look and understanding of SVYM’s work with the local community. After reading about their successes in their recent report, I admire their accomplishments with the people of Mysore and other areas and only hope to contribute to their achievements. I hope to learn not only from my teachers at the Mysore campus but also from the Indian citizens and locals. I also would like to learn from my group and their experiences before and during our projects in India. In all, I am more than excited to gain my first international experience this summer in beautiful South India!

Nikki J., GH '18
I am currently a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in Biology & Society while pursuing a minor in Global Health. I am on the pre-medical track, and I was born and raised in Burbank, CA. On campus, I assist in research with the Seguin Research Group, where I am currently focused on the physical activity levels of residents in rural areas. I am also a Cornell Tradition Fellow, the Co-Philanthropy Director of Kappa Alpha Theta Iota Chapter, the Vice President of Impact Dance Troupe, and a member of the Order of Omega, a Greek honor society. I hope to one day work in the medical field, and in my spare time I enjoy traveling and being with my friends. As someone who is very interested in the cultures and health systems of countries all around the world, I am very excited to be in India and working with SVYM!

Ore A., GH '18
Hi everyone! My name is Ore Afon, and I’m from Atlanta, GA. Currently, I’m a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Psychology and minoring in  both Creative Writing and Global Health. On campus, I am an executive board member of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity and the Pre-Med Minority Mentorship Program (PreM3), a member of Globemed@Cornell, a research assistant in the Personality, Attachment, and Control Laboratory, and a university tour guide. 

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to Mysore this summer to immerse myself in Indian culture, to learn more about becoming a global citizen, and to get a hands-on approach to community development. With such a unique and indispensable experience, I am excited to continue on my pursuit of becoming an OB/GYN and helping to bridge the gap for women all across the world.

Winnie H., GH '18
My name is Winnie H. and I'm a Biology major (neurobiology concentration) in Arts & Sciences with double minors in Global Health and Inequality Studies. I truly enjoy learning about the different facets of community health and development and am truly excited to go to Mysore and learn with SVYM. Health is a vast field and contains complicated issues that allow for many different areas of exploration. In addition, India is an incredible country with a rich culture, history, and dynamic future and I cherish the opportunity to further develop my interests there. I am looking forward to learning how SVYM operates, how complex health issues are handled, and seeing more of the world.   

Service-Learning and volunteering are a huge part of my life. I have previously travelled to Lima, Peru as part of Cornell MEDLIFE, an organization that provides mobile medical clinics and supports community development projects. Back in Ithaca, I seek to continuously give back to the local community as a regular volunteer and as the current Vice President of Service for Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed service fraternity. I am also a second-year participant in the Public Service Center's Alternative Spring Breaks trip program, and will be going to Tangelo Park Elementary School, Orlando to assist with developing education programs and working with the students. Finally, given my love of neuroscience and biology, I serve as the Volunteer Coordinator for Science Olympiad at Cornell and help organized high and middle school science tournaments. In the meantime, I stay active on campus as a Cornell Tradition Fellow, a lab assistant in a neurobiology lab, doing artwork and attempting leisure reading, and as an appreciator of puns and bad jokes. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Elise B. ILR'18: Vivekananda Teacher Training and Research Center

At the temple in Sravanbelgola. 
I can’t believe that six weeks have passed since I first stepped off the plane at Bangalore airport and walked the streets of India for the first time not knowing what to expect. In my time here, I have found unique architecture, delicious food, beautiful clothing, friendly people, and a culture so vibrant that people need to experience it first hand to understand its true beauty. I have made memories that will last a lifetime and India will always hold a very special place in my heart.

My project at the Vivekananda Teacher Training and Research Center (VTTRC) consisted of creating a digital database to house admissions and academic information for this tribal vocational school. I then analyzed the database to identify relevant trends in student demographics/enrollment and identified recommendations to admissions to maximize school’s success based on challenges.

With the students in Hosahalli.
Looking back on the past four weeks working on my project at Hosahalli, I simply don’t know where the time has gone. I was so impressed by the students at VTCL and VTTRC. They were kind, funny, selfless, intelligent, athletic, artistic, and so much more. I feel blessed to have grown close to many of them and saying goodbye was extremely difficult. From getting my hair done Indian style by the 9th standard girls, to dancing together in celebration of elections, I made so many joyful memories with the students and although we spoke different languages, that did not stop us from making strong connections.

I think this concept is what makes cross-cultural exchange so rich in importance and meaning. The idea that two vastly different groups of people, who speak vastly different languages, from vastly different places on the globe, can come together to simultaneously grow and learn from each other is absolutely amazing. As I prepare for my final departure, I can’t help but hope that my life journey leads me back to India some day.
GSL team resting after the climb down the mountain from Sravanbelgola Temple. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Stacy J. GH '17, Cerebral Palsy Case Studies at Sargur

This summer, I was fortunate enough to work at Vivekananda Memorial Hospital in Sargur, India. Unlike other hospitals I have worked at, VMH had a very active Community Health Department that worked with local people to implement initiatives to improve their health. Among their many projects, I worked with Dr. Manohar to create case studies of children with cerebral palsy who were beneficiaries of the hospital’s Chaitanya Vahini program. Not only was I able to research and learn more about cerebral palsy, but I sat in during physical therapy sessions at the hospital, interviewed patients and parents, and went along for home visits along the rural countryside. I also created questionnaires and research proposals for the maternal and child health initiative and Mobile Health Units.

General ward at Sargur hospital.
Being placed in Sargur was the best of both worlds. We had a small town to go fruit shopping at during our down time, and living inside a hospital allowed us to make friendships with the physicians, medical residents, and staff. The hospitality was amazing. We were invited to dinner at one of the physician's homes where we watched her cook dinner and ate homemade dosas. Since VMH also targets rural, tribal populations, I was also able to visit these communities through the Mobile Health Units that deliver care and medicine daily to these tribal villages. During my free time, I was also able to shadow the delivery room and the operation room. It was incredible to see how much the hospital could do with the resources that they had.

Mobile Health Clinic Van from Sargur Hospital.

Overall, India was an incredible experience. I learned so much about myself these two months. Not only was I able to learn so much about the culture through trips and my new friends, but I also feel like I genuinely contributed to the needs of the hospital. The Global Health program at Cornell has truly allowed me to open my eyes to the needs of global communities and learn how to learn from and work with them in an effective, culturally appropriate way. I can’t wait to visit again!

Stacy dressed in scrubs to observe surgery in Sargur Hospital.


Improving Employment Outcomes for Workers with Disabilities; Alex C., ILR '17 and Seth L., ILR '17

Did you know that an estimated one billion people live with a disability? This eye-opening statistic from a prominent international financial institutionthe World Bankreveals that 15 percent of the world's population experiences disability on a daily basis. Further, the World Bank calculates that "one-fifth of the estimated global totalor between 110 and 190 million peopleexperience significant disabilities" (World Bank, 2015). People with disabilities represent a sizable community. Both historically and presently, this community has been stereotyped, stigmatized, and discriminated against.

This is prominently reflected in the economic participation for people with disabilities. "People with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed and generally earn less even when employed...the World Health Survey shows that employment rates are lower for disabled men (53%) and women (20%) than for non-disabled men (65%) and women (30%)" (World Health Organization, 2011). These facts illustrate that the world's largest minority faces daunting employment challenges ahead. Recent peer-reviewed articles suggest that employers are acting against their own interests. Employers receive myriad direct and indirect benefits from hiring, retaining, promoting, and accommodating people with disabilities in the workplace. These benefits include, but are not limited to: heightened worker productivity, increased job tenure, improved job performance, enhanced job satisfaction, and superior absenteeism rates.

In 2016, we focused on disability-related projects at the public policy division for the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement ("SVYM"), known as the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement ("GRAAM") in Mysuru, India. Further, our endeavor was in conjunction with staff and faculty from the Cornell University Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability ("YTI") located in Ithaca, New York. Specifically, we worked on two interrelated projects: (1) crafting case studies on firms that gainfully employ workers with disabilities and (2) developing an android-based application to facilitate employment relationships between workers with disabilities and potential employers. While these projects had distinct objectives, our end-goal was singular: authoring public policy to improve the lives of people with disabilities on a national level. We are grateful for support from a plethora of domestic and international stakeholders. 

Our multidisciplinary team discussing new technology with public-sector colleagues.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Heather B. GH '18, Community Health Project at Sargur

Heather (center) with roommates, Nayo (left) and Sarah, in the Saragur hospital dormitory.
This summer, I worked in the Department of Community Health at Vivekananda Memorial Hospital in Saragur, India. My project involved developing standard operating procedures for Chaitanya Vahini, a rehabilitation initiative that works with persons with disabilities. Chaitanya Vahini is three years old, and provides institutional, field, counseling, and special events services for adults and children with disabilities and their families. However, there was no set documented protocol of what goes on in each component of the program in detail.

I worked for two months gathering information, researching, pulling files, interviewing staff, observing appointments and going on field visits. After gathering all of the necessary information, I synthesized my findings into manuals describing the processes. I created a standard operating procedure for Hospital Services, one for Field Visits, and one for Residential Camps. These manuals ranged from 15 to 20 pages each and included a complete description of the program as well as a detailed timeline and explanation for the steps of each service.

Outside of my project, I also helped to create an analytical data report based on a school health screening. Furthermore, I created a motivational poster for parents, and compiled a document of staff suggestions and my own brainstormed ideas of future success of Chaitanya Vahini.

My project manuals were printed soon after I left and will be available in the Community Health Office for anyone who needs to learn more about the initiative. They will also be shared with new employees and future interns working with Chaitanya Vahini. I thoroughly enjoyed working on my project as it equally balanced research, observation, interviewing, and creation. I appreciated the opportunity of getting a comprehensive overview of the hospital services offered through Chaitanya Vahini, interacting with patients and their families, and getting to communicate with many staff members inside and outside of VMH.

Heather assists with child weight measurements at Sargur Hospital.


Nayo M. - GH '17, Patient Education Materials at Sargur

Nayo enjoying coconut water.
During my six weeks in Sargur, I was given the task of creating patient education materials for a number of diseases. In order to narrow down my project, I spoke with the education department of the hospital and found that they were in most need of materials dealing with patients suffering from Alcoholism and Depression. After establishing my focus, I spent a couple of weeks researching and observing how alcoholism and depression affects people in the context of India and more specifically amongst the village communities that the Vivekananda Memorial Hospital serves. One important aspect of my research included shadowing my mentor, Dr. Chaitanya-Prasad a couple of times a week. During his rounds, I witnessed first-hand, the affects of long-term alcohol abuse on one’s health. I used all my observations to then come up with creative posters that would hopefully encourage patients to not engage is such activity. I was also able to create a four-minute informational video on Alcoholism and a few other posters advertising the hospital’s counseling department as a source of help. In addition to my project, I went ahead and created questionnaires for the counseling department. I was able to produce three questionnaires that the counselors would give to patients in order to screen them for alcoholism. Based on their results, the counselors would have an idea how far along the patient’s addiction was and if it improved after months of individual and family counsel.

Nayo and her mentor on her last day in Sargur, after her final presentation.
 I had a really great time working on this project. Alcoholism and depression are definitely problems in the US so it was a great opportunity to do research about it and use what I learned in India to possibly help those here in the US. What made my entire experience an unforgettable one were the people I met at the hospital and at SVYM. Everyone was so welcoming and happy to answer any questions I had. Minoring in Global Health is definitely one of the main highlights of my entire experience at Cornell. Being able to interact with like-minded individuals who all share the desire to be knowledgeable about global health and have a heart of service was truly gratifying. This was the perfect start to my journey in pursing a career in Global Health. 

Nayo learning to cook a South Indian dish in the Sargur canteen.


Whitney C. ILR '18, Documenting VTTRC Success Stories at Hosahalli

Whitney shopping at an open market.
SVYM maintains two schools in Hosahalli: Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning (VTCL), which is the primary and high school for tribal children between the ages of five and fifteen, and the Vivekananda Teacher Training Resource Centre (VTTRC), which is a two year college program for future elementary school teachers.  The two schools are very connected, with VTTRC students conducting research at VTCL as well as acting as house parents in the hostels.  I feel privileged that my project has given me the opportunity to interact with both campuses as well as the wider community.  My project this month has been to record success stories of VTCL and VTTRC alumni from the year 2011 to 2016 by analyzing the meaning of success in the context of institutional goals as visualized by select teachers, leaders, and students of VTCL and VTTRC and to develop a list of success criterion in which to identify successful individuals. 
There is an emphasis at VTCL on teaching students when they are ready to learn and preparing the classroom environment with the necessary learning tools, materials, and resources for the active involvement of the learner.  This inquiry-based learning that encourages divergent thinking and leads to more questions and inquiry based habits of mind helps create lifelong learners and inquisitive minds.  The atrium at school features many quotes that allude to these values, including one by Margaret Mead that says, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think”.

Everyone that we have met through our work has been so welcoming and excited to help us in any way that they can.  The students that we have befriended never cease to amaze me.  One VTTRC student eloquently explained why she wants to be a teacher; she said that education introduces you to the world and as an educator, you are an ambassador for children who want to learn about the world.  Thus, she wants to learn as much as she possibly can so that she can be the most effective ambassador for her local tribal community to a world that they shy away from.

As our time in Hosahalli winds down, I know that I will miss my new friends and I know I will think about them long after I have left India.  The students are so talented in all areas and intensely interested in everything.  We had so much learning traditional Kannada songs and dances from them and teaching them some American ones as well.  They are such fast learners and pick up anything that we teach them immediately.

Whitney (left) and Elise (right) pose with Hosahalli students.

Ijeoma E. GH '17, Cerebral Palsy Pamphlets at Kenchenahalli

Ijoema sari shopping with Madam Sindhu, the Director of VIIS. 
My project is focused on an integrative approach using Western Medicine and Ayurveda to manage and treat Cerebral Palsy. I am working with Dr. Seetharam, Dr. Mohan and Dr. Arundhati, and the process has been very eye-opening. I am creating a patient education booklet and pamphlet for mothers to watch for the signs of abnormal development in their children. It has been very interesting learning about how certain practices cause harm to the fetus according to Ayurveda and how these can be avoided.

Besides working on the project, we interact with the staff members when they are free, play games outside, go on long walks by the water, and reflect on our experiences. Eating meals with the staff members also gives us the chance to get to know them and their land beyond the context of the professional environment, and I cherish these conversations the most. We are also lucky to be able to observe operations at both the Saragur and Kenchanahalli hospital. All of the doctors are so willing to teach us and show us around. Overall, my time here has been amazing and I hope to come back soon!

Ijeoma with several of the Kenchenahalli hospital staff members and their children.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Birsena A. ILR '18 - Sneha Kiran Mysore Spastic Society

Namaskara! My name is Birsena (ILR ’18) and this summer I had the honor of being a part of Sneha Kiran Mysore Spastic Society, which is a school for children with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Sneha Kiran not only creates awareness about CP among the community members but also guarantees opportunities for children with CP participation in social activities and also excising their rights with in their own communities rather than getting isolated into institutions. Sneha Kiran gives children a chance to be a part of something and gives them a sense of belonging. The able-bodied children act as volunteers rushing to the aid of other children as friends.  I want to see that love reflected in the world I live in, where people rush to the aid of others and try to be the best versions of themselves when no one is watching.

Sneha Kiran Mysore Spastic Society - a school for children with Cerebral Palsy and other physical and mental disabilities.
At Sneha Kiran I was responsible for independently teaching classes with focus on individual children. I taught English, math, and environmental science to a class of 15 students with their ages ranging from 9 years old to 23 years old. Tara, another student from Cornell also at Sneha Kiran, was responsible for developing computer skills in individual sessions with students. The two of us tracked the progress of our assigned students and developed specialized teaching methods based on the student’s disability in order for students to learn most effectively. We fostered strong relationships with the students, volunteers, and teachers, which in turn led to a fluid line of communication that enhanced our experience.
Birsena and Tara worked with some students in the computer lab to enhance their cognitive thinking skills.

There is so much love Sneha Kiran, every single person is there because they want to be there. Being at Sneha Kiran for a month has taught me more about compassion and love than I ever could have imagined leaning. From the second I walked into school, to the second I walked out there was never one dull moment. Each day I was in absolute awe of the accomplishments every student made, and when they got excited it was genuine and contagious. I dare anyone to spend a day at Sneha Kiran and not leave with a smile on his or her face. Sneha Kiran created an environment that encouraged people who want to make positive change to join them. Every teacher there is there because they want to be there. I wish that everyone could experience the magic that is Sneha Kiran by participating in this program.
Tara (left) and Birsena (right) receive a farewell gift from their mentors at Sneha Kiran.