InSPIREd to explore India


Tickets booked! I am going to India this summer from June 3rd – August 12th to participate in a program called InSPIRE (India Summer Program Inspiring Reflective Exploration). I heard about this program a few years ago and have been wanting to do it ever since but the timing never worked out. I have finally decided to just go and I couldn’t be happier with this decision. I am extremely sad to be leaving SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together), especially since the Summit really energized me and showed me both how far our community has come and how far we have to go. I feel so grateful to have been part of this movement for even such a short time. I hope to come back into it somewhere down the line with a more solid set of skills and renewed sense of purpose. I could go on and on about SAALT but I’ll spare you for now. 🙂

So, what is InSPIRE anyway? I think the description on the website describes it best: InSPIRE is a 5-week long summer immersion program in India that aims to facilitate the process of both internal and external exploration for young Indians/South Asians drawn to the land of their heritage. The external exploration of India will be a catalyst for the understanding of our interrelations with the world around us, our aspirations, and our assumptions.

This was the itinerary from last year and this year’s will be pretty similar. Every time I look at this I get so excited…more thoughts to come later!

Ahmedabad, Gujarat 
Introductions of participants and of the program. Orientation. Expectations. Cultural context. Meeting Indian-Americans who are involved with work in India. Introduction to ‘education’ in India. Introduction to ‘Gandhian’ thought. Experiencing the reality of the slums of Ahmedabad. Experiencing the ‘spirit’ of service being lived and feeling the power of relationships, love, and positive thought. Becoming inspired. We will be staying at the Environmental Sanitation Institute (ESI) campus, where most of our meals will be provided as well. We will be working with ESI and Manav Sadhna.
Baroda, Gujarat 
Agriculture and farmer issues in India. Organic farming. Potential of naturopathic treatment. We will be staying at the Vinoba Ashram where our meals will be provided. We will be staying at the Vinoba Ashram where our meals will be provided. We will be working with Jatan Trust and Nisargopachar Kendra, the nature cure center.
Sakad/Sendhawa, Madhya Pradesh 
Exploring alternates in education. Create your own project. Active participation in farming, teaching, cooking, health treatment, etc. Experience of living in a village and exploring rural life. Adivasi (tribal) rights. Session with inspiring leaders pertaining to social justice issues and people’s movements. Exploring various notions of development and progress.  We will be working with and staying at Adharshila Learning Center
Melghat, Madhya Pradesh 
Helping doctors fight malnutrition and disease during the monsoon season. Building toilets and running water system. Being introduced to a grassroots development organization. We will be working with and staying with Melghat Mitra
Interactions with college counterparts involved in social work. Glimpse at social, environmental, and developmental concerns and inspirational work by people within their own communities. Experience of the reality of living on the streets. Excursion to the world of the upper-middle class of India. Sessions with prominent speakers on various development issues. We will be staying at the International Youth Hostel where most of our meals will be provided as well. We will be working with the following organizations: ManzilSWECHHA – We For Change, and Jamghat.
Ram Garth/Dehradun, Uttaranchal Pradesh at Bija Vidyapeeth Campus 
In-depth look at farming issues in India through a series of workshops on India’s Green Revolution, farmer suicides, use of pesticides and fertilizers, the possibilities of organic farming and its benefits and environmentally sustainable living. Participation in organic farming, gardening, and composting. Fostering an awareness of what we are consuming, where it comes from and how it affects us and others. We will be staying at the Bija Vidyapeeth campus, where our meals will be provided as well. The sessions will be lead by the Navdanya organization.
Kempty/Mussoorie, Uttaranchal at SIDH 
Interactive sessions about decolonisation and Gandhi, and further exploration of the self, the other, society, nature and the inter-relations of each. Introduction to Jeevan Vidya philosophy. Supplementing this with exposure to village life and re-looking at the purpose of education. Exploration of our own sense of responsibility and contribution through daily, hands-on work (shramdaan). Tuning into our senses through activities such as rafting and trekking in nature. Holistic picture. We will be staying at the Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas (SIDH) campus, where most of our meals will be provided.
Debrief. Evaluation. Feedback. Planning for ‘what next?’  We will be staying at the Scholar’s House of Jamia University, where most of our meals will be provided.

2 Comments to “InSPIREd to explore India”

  1. Sounds like an awesome program that will provide experiences to draw on for a lifetime. It’s inSPIRINGing to see someone making such good use of the summer months!

  2. oh man I’m SO excited for you! This program sounds incredible, and also something I would consider doing after grad school. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences 🙂

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