Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Wedding Celebration


An Indian wedding celebration differs from one in the West in that invitations are extended to friends,  both old and new.  On the flight to Bangalore, Katherine met Vin, who was traveling to India for his brother's wedding.  After a 9-hour flight, Vin extended an invitation to Katherine and her "friends" to attend his brother's wedding reception in Mysore (the first one was in Bangalore).  Knowing that this would be a once in a life time opportunity, Katherine confirmed with Vin that she could invite 25+ of her friends, and then the preparations were in motion.

Mme. Sindhu and Sararose stopping at a flower stand to select an arrangement for 
the bride and groom, Nikhila and Madhu. 


A few days before the event, selecting a sari.

Sejal helping Maddie.

The tailor met the team at the shop to take measurements for the blouses, and then delivered 15 them in few days!

The day of the event, Mme. Sindhu helping the team with their saris.

Katie Q. attaching jasmine flowers.

Leaving the hostel.

Katherine meeting Vin and his family at the reception.

Extending our best wishes to the bride and groom, Nikhila and Madhu. 

After the formal greeting, enjoying a fabulous meal.

Each tent featured a different dish.

Paan is a traditional after-dinner food, which aids in digestion after a large meal. 

One last group photo after an amazing evening celebrating the union of Madhu and Nikhila! 






Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shravanbelagola and Belur Visits

Namaskara from Mysore, India!  

The steps leading up to the temple.
On Wednesday, we ventured an hour and a half outside Mysore to Shravanbelagola, a Jain Temple. This breathtaking temple can only be reached by climbing over 600 steps carved right out of the mountain. More than the incredible view of Hassan, the top of the mountain holds the magnificent Gomateshwara Statue, the world’s largest monolithic stone sculpture.

The view of Hassan.
The spiritual experience was furthered by our interaction with a Jain priest, who blessed us before the statue. Additionally, we had the privilege of reciting a Jain prayer with our very own Sejal, whose family practices Jainism. This once in a lifetime experience brought our knowledge of the Jain religion to a new level, in which we could appreciate its traditional roots first-hand.

The team with the statue of Gomateshwara.
After this, we traveled another hour to Belur, where we saw the Chennakesava Temple. One of the most profound aspects of this temple was the detail in its carvings: no two were the same. Here, we learned about the many forms of Vishnu, a Hindu god, and got a taste of the many Hindu myths. Extremely fascinating was the fact that the King who commissioned this temple converted from Jainism to Hinduism—a rare event.
The Belur temple.
Intricate carvings of dancers on the exterior walls of the temple.
Our day captured the religious diversity within India and successfully translated out classroom knowledge into reality. It has been an amazing week and we cannot wait to update you more in the future! 

This is JaM (Jack and Maddie) signing off.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Adjusting to the Spice

A scene from the road in Hebbal, Mysore,
which is the neighborhood near our Hostel
Hello Everyone!

Here’s a bit on our first few days in India, although already we’ve done so much I feel like I’ve been here much longer than that. Most of the group arrived safely here in Mysore, and we’ve been settling in nicely since then.

The first order of business on Friday was to go shopping for the appropriate attire for our stay here (pictures definitely will speak for me on this one). Other than that, we got our first view of the city, ate our first meals (spicy, but so good!...we’re getting used to the flavors too) at the hostel, and got a quick glance of SVYM. We also all experienced the extreme exhaustion that comes with such a long trip.

The front of the palace during daytime
On Saturday we had our orientation, which began with a very nice ceremony welcoming us to SVYM. After a tour of the campus, we participated in a lamp-lighting ceremony and listened to words about SVYM’s mission as an organization. This part was especially interesting to me as Madame Sindhu, our program coordinator, stressed that India is at a “critical juncture” and that SVYM aims to catalyze India’s development through the growth of human capital. Not only does this mission statement resonate with me, but it also provides me with a deeper context for the reason for my project.

The temple at Chamundi Hill
Today the group toured Mysore, and this was truly an amazing experience. We started the day at the Mysore palace, where we learned not only the royal history of the city but also the city’s relationship with the British and how it gained independence. The palace was BEAUTIFUL, so beautiful in fact that we went back at night to see it lit up. Again, pictures will do it more justice than I can with words.

We also visited St. Philomena’s church and Chamundi Hill, at the top of which is a beautiful temple. We watched an offering ceremony inside the temple and took advantage of the spectacular views of Mysore from outside.

Before I sign off, I want to mention an observation/thought (among many) I’ve had over the first few days: why the sharp divide between wealth and poverty?  I noticed it driving through Bangalore on the way to Mysore and also a little bit here. I don’t know the answer, but through the newer presence big industries, like Infosys in Mysore, my thoughts turn to the need for high-skilled labor and the apparent lack of it.  Does training in particular industries contribute to wealth? Are there other avenues for upward mobility? I’m sure there are tons of answers to this question, and I definitely hope to explore them in classes (which start tomorrow!) these first two weeks).
A group of us in front of the palace,
which is only lit up on Sunday nights

Ok, that’s all for now!

All the best,

Abigail





Saturday, May 30, 2015

Meet the TAs!




Hi, my name is Sejal and I am one of the TAs for the GSL India team this year. I graduated this past May from Cornell majoring in Biological Sciences in CALS and minoring in both Business and Global Health. I will be working at Weill Cornell as the Global Health Teaching Associate. I hope to pursue an MD/MPH after working for a few years in the medical/public health field. I am really grateful and excited to be a part of the team and am looking forward to an amazing opportunity with the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement!

Hi there! My name is Andy. I’m one of the TAs for this year’s trip. I graduated this past May from the ILR School with minors in Global Health and Music. I participated in this program as an undergraduate two summers ago and worked with Palliative Care Mysore (http://www.vild.edu.in/?q=palliativecare) on projects relating to their outreach video and income generation program for patients and their families. I also worked in Lusaka, Zambia last summer through another GSL program. I am thrilled to be back in a country I love through a program that I believe in strongly!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Meet the 2015 India GSL ILR Team!

Abigail

My name is Abigail and I am from Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C. I just finished my freshman year right in ILR, and am considering minors in business and law and society. At the moment, I think I would like to take my ILR education and apply it to the growth of businesses that work to employ people with disabilities. Or something else...I’m always changing my mind. Outside of school, I love traveling, exercising, reading, and phot ography, among other things.
This summer, I’ll be working at GRAAM analyzing the role of Corporate Social Responsibility in generating more universal practices for training, hiring and advancing people with disabilities. I’ll be looking at existing policy and practice and exploring how it can be modified to be most effective.
I'm unbelievably excited about this experience; I hope to immerse myself in the culture and work in order to learn about Indian work, labor, and culture in general.

Aleksandra

My name is Aleksandra and I am a rising Junior at the ILR school. Growing up in New York City as exposed me to many various cultures from an early age, and has inspired me to travel around the world and experience different traditions first hand. My curiosity has brought me to India this summer in order to fully immerse myself in the Indian lifestyle. These next few weeks I will be working at the Viveka Tribal Center for Learning and the Vivekananda Teacher Training and Research Center in Hosahalli. My project will be to provide the teachers at the center with an online communication portal, in addition to teaching English classes during my free time. I am incredibly excited to be in such a culturally rich country, and to meet my fellow co-workers and students!
 
Damian

My name is Damian and I am from Pearl River, New York. I am a student in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations. I am interested in potentially pursuing a law degree following my graduation. For my project I am working at the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement. There I will be involved in research regarding the relationship between rural governance structures, community participation, and development outcomes.


 Dawn

I am a rising senior in the ILR School. My current academic interests revolve around nonprofit administration and the socio-economic development of women and marginalized workers. While in Mysore, I will be collaborating with the Sneha Kiran Mysore Spastic Society (a school for children with cerebral palsy) on a project to raise money to expand the school's programs into rural areas. I am also interested in expanding my passion and knowledge of Yoga and Indian cooking while in India.

Jack
 
Namaste!

My name is Jack and I am an ILR junior from New York City. ILR has provided me with a fantastic background in some of my interests, international labor relations and various labor/ social justice movements. This summer I am lucky enough to be engaging in a project on the intersection between disability and child labor at GRAAM, a public policy institute, here in Mysore. In this role, I will be writing a literature review on various scholarly works. At Cornell I am a member of the Cornell Organization for Labor Action (COLA) and I work as a campus fellow for Mercy for Animals and as a research assistant. I’m extremely excited for this summer and I promise to keep you all updated!

Katie L.

Namaskaraa! My name is Katie L. and I am an ILR major from Los Angeles, California. While my academic interests vary widely, I plan to pursue minors in Business, Inequality Studies and Computer Science. Aside from academics, I love listening to music, playing the guitar, following the NBA (#clippernation), and watching an obscene amount of TV and movies.
            While I only get two weeks here in Mysore to learn from some of the most inspiring professors about the fascinating Indian history, culture and labor relations, my four-week project will be in Hosahalli—a rural village about 2 hours south of Mysore. In Hosahalli, I will be observing the school Viveka Tribal Center for Learning and documenting how the daily routine aligns with the school’s philosophy. I’m curious to see the differences and similarities of the tribal school and thrilled to interact with the kids and staff.
My time here in India has already been filled with such new, exciting, and thought-provoking experiences…and I’ve only just gotten started.

Katie Q.

Hi!  My name is Katie Q. and I’m a Masters student at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations studying labor market policy.  Since getting my Bachelors in economics at Occidental College in Los Angeles, I lived in Spain and Germany and traveled extensively.  Having diverse exposure to work in the United States and abroad, I set my sights on applying my economics background to help improve labor markets and working conditions within a global context.  This leads me to Mysore, India, where I’ll be helping build a foundation for field research regarding the skill gap in rural India and appraising current rural livelihood policies for their effectiveness in closing that gap.

Sararose

My name is Sararose and I am a rising sophomore in the ILR School at Cornell University. Originally from Washington DC, I am so excited to be traveling to India for the first time to take part in this program! My interests include traveling, running, volunteer and service work, Indian and African American literature, and ice skating. During my time in India I will be working with the Sneha Kiran of Mysore Spastic Society in Bogadi Mysore for their outreach program, providing multi-disciplinary therapeutic, educational and comprehensive rehabilitation services to children and young adults affected with cerebral palsy. It is my goal to not only render my support and care, but to also truly become a friend to all patients and students whose lives I will work to improve. 


Tara M.

Hello, my name is Tara M. and I am a rising junior in the ILR School at Cornell University. I am involved on campus as a Student Program Coordinator for the Cornell Team and Leadership Center and a member of the Society for Human Resource Management. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my parents, two sisters and dog at my home in Buffalo, NY.
For the project portion of this program, I will be designing and creating an Administrative Manual for the Vivekananda Teacher’s Training and Resource Center (VTTRC) in Hosahalli. This project requires consolidating VTTRC’s human resource structure, along with the background of its teachers and students. I look forward to this opportunity to learn about the procedures VTTRC employs in order to train tribal and rural youth in creative teaching necessary to improve learning outcomes in the tribal community.

Meet the 2015 India GSL Global Health Team!

Madeleine
I am a sophomore Psychology major that is minoring in global health and law and society. I am from Maryland and enjoy visiting the monuments as often as possible! At school, I spend my time advocating for HIV/AIDS awareness, serve as an A&S academic integrity hearing board member, am involved in Hillel, and am an active member of Kappa Delta sorority. I hope to attend graduate school for health administration and work within the mental health field as an advocate for those less fortunate and suffering from mental diseases. This summer I will be developing case studies based on patient satisfaction within Kenchenhalli. I hope to learn the inner workings of the Indian healthcare system, and its differences to those of America. I am beyond grateful and excited to spend the summer in this amazing country!

Alexandra 
Hello! My name is Alex and I am a Policy Analysis and Management major with a Global Health minor from Miami, Florida. In the future, I hope to graduate with a master’s degree in healthcare administration where I plan to apply this to a career in healthcare improvement, especially in closing health disparities from a management and policy framework. In my free time I love travelling, playing badminton, reading fiction, and dancing. While in Mysore, I will be working with GRAAM (Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement) in developing pragmatic policy changes, which address regional and social disparities in the status of health and public health infrastructure. I look forward to the eight weeks of cultural immersion, academic learning, personal growth, and reflection!

Angela 
Hi, my name is Angela and I am a Global Health student participating in the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement Global Service Learning Program. I grew up in Boulder, Colorado and am now a rising senior in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. I’m studying Human Development with minors in Global Health and Biology. After I graduate I hope to go on to medical school with a focus in global maternal and child health. Besides my studies I like to travel, rock climb, ski, and try new foods. During my time in India I will be taking classes about Indian health care, gender, society, and culture. After that, I will be staying at a primary health care hospital working on informational materials for patients about common aliments and learning about Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine). I am looking forward to the coming weeks and am excited to share what I learn on this blog.

Elyse
My name is Elyse, and I’m from Northport, New York. I’m a Biology and Society Major, with minors in Global Health and Nutrition. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in medicine and public health, and work with health on a large scale, domestically or even abroad. This summer, I will be working at SVYM’s tribal hospital in Kenchanahalli. There, I will be creating informational pamphlets about the traditional Indian medicine system of Ayurveda, focusing on how these treatments can be used to address diabetes. I’m looking forward to learning more about this ancient system of medicine and how it can be applied to diseases that we see so often at home. In my free time, you’ll probably find me outside running, hiking, or playing field hockey.

Katherine 
My name is Katherine. I am a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences from West Hartford, Connecticut. I am majoring in sociology with minors in Global Health, Inequality Studies and Music. I am very interested in Music, specifically voice, piano, and song writing, as well as travel, art and literature. I would like to enter a career in global health from a sociological perspective. I am very excited to be working here in Mysore with SVYM!




Danielle


My name is Danielle and I am from Croton-on-Hudon, New York. I am currently majoring Biology and Society and minoring in Global Health. I am interested studying health with a holistic approach, considering social, cultural, and economic as well as biological factors and consequences of health. Outside of school, I enjoy the company of friends, family and animals or sing to my guitar or piano. This summer I will be doing a project at the Rango Rao Memorial School for the visually impaired where I will be expected to teach conversational English to girls in 8th, 9th, and 10th grade.

Tara S.
My name is Tara and I am from Stamford, CT. I am a rising junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, majoring in Biology and Society and minoring in Global Health and Business. I am pursuing a career in the field of health and am currently interested in Occupational Therapy. At Cornell, I am the Editor-in-Chief of the 2016 Cornellian Yearbook and have a strong interest in graphic design. I also really enjoy working with kids and am a child mentor/tutor through a program called Youth Outreach Undergraduates Reshaping Success. While in India this summer, I will be working on a project that involves revising the Hospital Administration Handbook at the Kenchenahalli hospital. There, I will be observing the adherence to stated procedures and identifying areas for modification for overall improvement in efficiency.

Rana  
My name is Rana and I am thrilled to be a member of the 2015 Global Health group in Mysore, India.  Originally, I am from upstate New York (aka Rochester).  I am currently a rising junior in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, pursuing a bachelor’s in Nutritional Sciences  (with a Global Health Minor). My career trajectory has been pretty clear since I was younger; I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, particularly in the field of pediatrics. Throughout my time at university I’ve found my interests have gotten more tailored; I enjoy travelling, writing short stories, photography, and taking long naps (thanks Cornell).  During my time in India, I will have the opportunity to work at the Ranga Rao Memorial School for the Visually Impaired on the medical front. My specific duties involve creating an extensive report assessing the health status of all the students based on collected data.  I look forward to contributing what I can as well as learning a lot about health in India!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Greetings from GRAAM

I am working on my project with EDI under the supervision of Dr. Basavaraju and Dr. Siddappa in the Grassroots Research And Advocacy Movement (GRAAM) office. My task is to create various documents (study briefs, policy briefs, and fact sheets) which GRAAM can use to advocate for better inclusion of people with disabilities (PWD) into the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to the Karnataka State Government. MNREGA guarantees 100 days of paid work to eligible rural households whose adult members volunteer to do ecologically-focused manual labor projects. The act intends to provide supplemental wages to poor rural families, by encouraging them to self-identify as jobseekers. The theory is that MNREGA will result in rural economic growth and also increased democratic governance, as the village leaders play a major role in implementing the work projects.

Due to a variety of socio-cultural factors, people with disabilities are among the most economically vulnerable, especially in rural areas. GRAAM recently conducted a pilot study in the Kolar District of Karnataka to see if PWD are able to benefit from MNREGA jobs, and if not, what barriers to participation exist. Nearly 454 PWD were surveyed, along with their family members and village leaders, so GRAAM has a wealth of data to interpret. The team is working on publishing a full research report, but also needs concise documents to present to policymakers to improve conditions for PWD. This is where my attention is focused. 

I am very happy to be working with the GRAAM team. I am inspired by the intentionality of focusing on rural economic development—especially for people with disabilities— as a humanitarian, poverty alleviation endeavor. By contributing to these documents for policy advocacy, I feel that I may be able to help affect positive change.