Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our First Days at SVYM

By Marko, BSILR'13

Marko meeting with students at the Viveka School of Excellence in Saragur.

First and foremost the food here is amazing! Everyone at SVYM is so amiable and hospitable. We had our convocation in to the program on Sunday. The staff orchestrated a beautiful ceremony, and we heard from a lot of prominent members of SVYM including its founder Dr. Balasubramaniam (or Balu as we call him) speak. It was really intriguing to hear about the life of Swami Vivekananda (I got pointed toward some great books). After convocation we went for a walk in the city; checking out several small shops and a market place, and just immersing ourselves in the city of Mysore. During the first leg of our mini adventure tons of people waved to us and said hello, but when the girls decided to stay in a clothing shop Henry, Kevin, and I decided to continue on and explore, and the waving ended. It was interesting to notice that once the girls were gone we still received the same amount of looks on the street but were not getting any of the friendly hellos.. curious. Over the course of our explorations we have all managed to get our hands on traditional Indian attire although we still stick out, hah.

Before dinner we went out and played volleyball with some local kids who work at SVYM, and let me tell you they are pros. I was on the winning team but my skills paled in comparison to these guys and gals. Oh, and while playing the game the sun was setting and the sky was the astonishing. It was like rainbow sherbet but colossal and glowing. It also gets dark really quickly here, I guess I’m still not used to the sunlight at this latitude.

The classes are so interesting and are all so intertwined. Indian Culture and Philosophy is taught by Professor Rao who is so knowledgeable has been very involved in archaeology and historical research in India. He was the person whose name got us in to the VIP rooms of Mysore Palace! Professor Shanthi is teaching our class on gender relations in India. Her class has opened my eyes to the reality of gender inequality in this country and to the struggle that millions of Indian women face. I find her really inspiring. Us ILR students then take labor econ, while the global health students are taking a global health class (in the context of India). We had our first Kannada class today and it was a blast! We learned a bunch of basic phrases and our Professor is a riot, and is superb at engaging the class! Also Yoga classes started on Monday which is conducted before breakfast. If you haven’t tried yoga before I recommend doing so. It is such a great way to start your day!

We are sharing the SVYM hostel facilities with Students from other schools and organizations. There are about a dozen undergraduate students studying at SVYM for the semester  from Mount Allison University (New Brunswick, Canada). We haven’t had any formal time to get to know one another so we are planning some sort of community event (still working on the specifics). There are also four graduate students who are interning with UNICEF. They are working as a team to study/ research the education of girls in India. We are also expecting some students from Iowa State University somewhere in the near future.

So far India has been a wonderful experience. Pretty excited for the rest of our time hear at SVYM’s campus. I just hope it doesn’t go by too quickly.

Dr. Shanti and the GSL students.

The Kannada language professor and Sindhu showing ancient script written on palm leaves.

                                                             SVYM Hostel Hallway. 

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