The India Song – Big Star
In my regular job as a high school English teacher, I’m forced to do some things that I don’t always want to do. One of them is hall duty. One day in late March of this year I was grading papers at my duty station, glancing up each time I heard footsteps, and pausing to inspect hall passes before returning to my work. All of this was normal. Every once in a while my duty time is made more enjoyable by a delightful visit from a student or colleague, and on this day a social studies teacher who shared a common interest in travel chatted with me about India. She knew of a program that would send a group of teachers from North Texas to the far-flung corners of the Indian subcontinent for one solid month of cultural exploration, culminating in the development of a curriculum unit. I became interested immediately.
Previously I had lived and taught in Hungary for three years. I am always thinking about where I want to travel to next–my last trip was to Croatia, and before that, Guatemala–but I had never given India serious thought. It seemed daring to go to India. Wasn’t it heavily populated? Weren’t there health risks involved in going? Wouldn’t the details of the trip be difficult and confusing to plan? Going with a group, I thought, might give me a kind of “hands-free” experience, allowing me to absorb all the sights and sounds and smells of a new culture without the worry or hassle of coordinating transport and accommodations for each leg of the trip. Within two hours of hearing about the Fulbright-Hays GPA to India, I had already downloaded the application, secured my letters of recommendation from two exceedingly supportive colleagues and begun writing the essays that would hopefully seal my fate for the summer.
I submitted the application, and an interview was set up in which I met the three program coordinators. I remember entering the LaMadeleine in Irving where the interviews were conducted and feeling slightly intimidated when I saw a sign with the word “Fulbright” taped to the back of an empty chair. On April Fool’s day I was notified via e-mail of my acceptance into the program.
As of this writing, I have been in India for two days. The goal of this blog is to document my experience as purely as possible while shedding some light on India’s progress towards the UN’s goals for developing countries (see my group official site for more details: http: http://fulbrightindia2011.com). I will post my activities a day or two after the fact, and in the coming week I will backtrack a little to post some content about the pre-departure sessions which were eye-opening and crucial in preparing me for what I am now experiencing here in this remarkable place.