Wednesday, October 12, 2011

India on Our Face - Warm and Welcoming!

So, after nearly 36.6 hours of total door to door time, we are in India, at our base camp(us) – Madras Christian College.  It is an incredible campus, to say the least.  Green, that is raw natural green - unlike Furman’s manicured green that we are used to, and there is a wild side to it too.  Literally, there is wildlife on campus that surprises us every now and then.  It’s a 400 acres campus but it will take for ever to know every part of it, or may be never, because the woods are pretty dense and impenetrable at most places.  On the day of our arrival, we were treated to a Beatles concert organized by the faculty and students in celebration of John Lennon’s life.  It was a good way to ride the jet-lag.  Students were introduced to their buddies at MCC to hang out and exchange view points or to travel to the city and explore.

Every one enjoys the routine outing to the shops outside the college gate or the main Tambaram market, visiting which is an experience in itself.  Amazing variety of shops and alertness to all senses are the highlights.  Girls and boys found shops to load up on some Indian dresses for the next few weeks.  Our classroom is just across the guest house, and we have settled in to a routine of having two guest lectures in the morning and free afternoons.

One of the afternoons, we visited SOS school just outside of the gate that is an interesting model for running an orphanage but with a very good family-oriented support structure.  The weather is really nice, barring the humidity of course.  Here are some photos from our first week or two.

Click to see the entire album:

2011 Study Away in India – Landing at MCC

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wrapping up the term before departure…

The five weeks on campus flew by so fast.  It was pretty intense but very fruitful in terms of covering all the basics and foundations necessary to travel and absorb India as it presents itself.  One of the courses required students to make a final presentation in the form of a poster on a region of India (assigned to them before the summer).  This involved several weeks of research, data gathering, GIS application, spatial analysis and finally presentation of the results.  Here are some of the pictures from the presentation.  This almost wraps up the time on campus.  Next is departure for India.

2011 Fall GIS Presentations

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It’s Time to Celebrate!

The end of classes on campus and the completion of poster session, and less than 48 hours for departure.  All means only one thing – CELEBRATION TIME!  We got together at Dr. Khandke’s place for dinner and relaxing evening after two long weeks of pulling things together - completing and presenting the GIS project, completion of a big term paper, several assignments, blog entries, and final exams.  Now there is less than 48 hours to leave.  Every one is now accustomed to some of the Indian traditions already, like welcoming or honoring guests with a tilaka, the red dot on the forehead.
Tonight, is the night to celebrate and put behind all the hard work of the past few weeks (of course, with the exception of a final exam tomorrow!).  Now, get ready to depart.  The cool breeze of the arctic that is sweeping through the Upstate will be a distant memory soon and “heat and the humidity” will be our best friend.  Now, I don’t have to say much about heat and the humidity, do I?

Click on the photo above to visit the complete album.

Monday, October 3, 2011

India - Poster Presentation Day

Today our students made a presentation of their GIS class projects in the form of a poster.  It was well worth their time and effort.  In spite of the delay in getting the posters printed, the session went very well with participation by Furman community members.  Individual projects were focused on a variety of themes, but overall, it was clear that an analysis of data from all the projects were necessary to answer any single question in a complete way.  For example, any question related to poverty can only be answered when we closely analyze education, natural resource distribution and the wealth of the state, political infrastructure, environmental quality, and natural hazard potential among other things.  It was fascinating. 
Please check out the posters in electronic form here.

Click on the photo above to visit the complete album.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Engaged Learning and Integrated Learning Experience at its Best!

Over the past five weeks, the the students have been working very hard to understand India from an interdisciplinary perspective.  Readings for all four classes are from a variety of peer-reviewed journals, published books, government and NGO reports, and textbooks etc.,  All four courses for this term are interconnected and the faculty directors have spent over a years time in bringing it all together.  Getting such an enriching educational experience at Furman doesn’t come without some pains.  Everyday classes, volumes of daily reading, extended hours to complete labs, weekly exams, blog-writing assignments, take-home exams, GIS term projects and finding some sleep when possible have been the routine for both faculty directors and the students.  These pains are nothing in comparison to the pleasures of connecting dots and gaining a broader understanding and a deeper appreciation for the complexities in the human-natural environment interface.  One blog entry can hardly capture the excitement and the myriad of things awaiting us.  We leave in a week, but still have unfinished parts to take care of.  This is just the beginning.  Come back for more.

Students working on developing the framework presented in “India Unbound, by Gurcharan Das” book.


Group discussion in progress.

Friday, September 23, 2011

An Experience of a Life Time!

This blog page will be used to share travel logs, and photos with friends and family members of India Study Away program at Furman University.  Please visit often to get updates.  You can also sign-up with your email (on the right side) to get automatic updates from this blog.

It all starts right here! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meeting with the group - India fever on!

The students and the faculty of India Study Away program met over dinner to socialize in Dr. Muthukrishnan's residence. Students were treated with delicious Indian food catered from Safron Indian Restaurant. Girls had an opportunity to put Mehndi (temporary herbal tattoos)