I never want to stop learning

So I’m sitting in an internet cafe in Delhi trying to think of a way to sum up the past 3 weeks in a blog post but I can’t. I don’t even know how to explain it to myself. We have a bit of free time today and then we will be on an overnight bus to the Deer Park Institute in Bir, Himachal Pradesh.

I don’t want to just list off the things I’ve done, post a few pictures and have it end at that. I want to express what I have learned and I want you to challenge me and question me.

– In Ahemdabad I learned that those who we dismiss as “impoverished”  have a name, a face, and a beautiful spirit. I learned this from going rag picking with Kankuben, wakling into rich people’s houses with Champaben to clean their floors, cuddling up at night with Poonam a beautiful girl who lives in the slums of Abad and telling bedtime stories. In the village of  Sarsavadi I learned the true meaning of hspitality and community.  And I learned that village dogs are the scariest dogs I have ever encountered in my life.

– In Adharshila Learning Center, an alternative school for Adivasi (tribal) children in Madhya Pradesh I learned about the struggles of the Adivasi in Inidia, the merits of alternative education systems, and about true passion and committment from Amitbhaiya and Jayshreedidi who run the place.

– In Kakrana, MP I questioned my own notion of “development” when we saw the stagnant water created by the Narmada Dam Project. What was once a flowing river is now a reservoir….but at what cost? The farmer we spoke to says his land will be submerged soon by expansion of the dam….land that him and his family have lived on for hundreds of years. We are not only destroying land but culture as well. But isn’t development necessary? Doesn’t a dam provide electricty and water to people who need it? Is this a short term loss that we need to incur to benefit us in the long run?

– At Futane farm near Nagpur I learned about more than just organic farming practices. I thoguht deeply about where my food comes from and where it goes.  I learned about tubers, rice, mangos, bamboo, and the weeds that plague them. I learned about love and committment from the Futane family who run the farm. And sometimes…I just played with Paniti….the cutest baby in the entire world.

-At Vinoba Bhave’s ashram I learned strength from the women who live there as part of the Brahma Vidhya Mandhir. I left in awe of their spirit and a yearning to experience Ashram life….but I didn’t leave with the strength to actually do it.

– In Delhi I have learned so much in just 2 days that I don’t think I’m ready to process it. We went on a night wakl with Jamghat an organization that works with street kids. We went on an early morning wakl to witness the destruction that is being done to the Yamuna River…by us. By me…every time I flush a toilet.

– Every day I gain new appreciation for the power of music ion my life. Yesterday we had a jam sesssion with kids from Manzil and it honestly felt like one of those momenst of blissful happiness.

– I have learned to love each and every single person I am traveling with. There are 20 of us now (6 coordinators, 12 participants, and 2 new additions from Australia) and I could not imagine this trip without them.

I never want to stop learning. However…I do have to stop writing. Time is up in this Internet cafe. I’ll be home no August 13th and would love to see all of you. Karma Kitchen on Sunday anyone?

Please excuse my spelling mistakes.No time for spell checking in a stream of consciousness. And this keyboard is sticking. 🙂

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3 Comments to “I never want to stop learning”

  1. Brilliant Aparna, I am always amazed by your vulnerability and willingness to be humbled. I’m sure there’s so much you’re processing from redefinitions of “progress” to reinvigorated meaning of “community” to a deeper experience of ecology.

    It’s amazing how much there is to consider, reconsider, and challenge in terms of our own notions of teaching and learning and progress. I’m bumping up against that hardcore now as well (although in not nearly has empirical a way as you are) as we’re designing the educational curriculum with the school in Nairobi.

    The more I discuss education and models of education, the more I see the subtle projections of arrogance and oppression as the conditions of a patriarchal notion of “educating” people like they’re ignorant depositories, waiting for “our” knowledge and expertise. I’m been questioning in my own adequacy in providing such a program, and so with this knowledge of not knowing, been reading a lot about alternative co-creative education approaches where students are participants and drivers of their own process with facilitators simply holding space and being educated in the process. I’ve been grappling with how to actually create such a structure where everyone is learning from each other, while trying to come up with “measures of effectiveness” (I could write a blog on what the hell is “effectivenss” alone) ….

    What you’re doing is great and so appreciate your honesty as your grappling with your “ish”… 🙂

    I look forward to your next post!

  2. Thanks for the update, Aparna! Once again, your insights and experiences inspire me- I’ve been feeling very frustrated and stagnant lately and reading about your own experiences have helped me to feel rather rejuvenated.

    It sounds like youre having an amazing time and I can’t wait to hear about it all from you when you’re back!

  3. Apu,
    You need to become a writer!!!
    I am so happy that you are learning a lot.
    It was a good decision to take this trip.
    Once in a lifetime experience that will change your a lot of your concept towards life.
    Enjoy the rest and we will see you soon

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