Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nearly Circumnavigated

On this trip - in its entirety - we will have traveled 20,625 miles, just a few thousand miles short of the entire circumference of the globe (around 24,000). What a distance traveled over only eleven days.

Coir Factory in the Throes of Globalization

Produced from the husks of soaked coconuts, these men and women spin, weave, dye, and make products we see in the states (doormats, rugs, and other durable goods). This factory is collectively owned, thus insuring each worker is both a shareholder and stakeholder in the company. Furthermore, there is wage equity between women and men. Unfortunately for this outfit they've gone for 240 to 16 workers, given the scarcity of skilled labor and the competition with large, multinational firms.

Fine Art Form Concludes Agenda

We were able to see a very dynamic and allegorical play put to music and fabulous costumes called Kathakali. Originating in the 17th century, actors remain silent an communicate using hand gestures and dramatic facial expressions. Delightful performance and great way to conclude our time here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spectacular Encounter

From Emmanuel Opara:

Our trip to India without mincing words was a rich experience, informative and educational. The state of the art monument, parks, museums, temples, both Christian and Hindu is an amazing testimony of beautiful nation. However, among all the exciting places we visited I was mostly humbled to step my feet in the resting place of one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. The Tomb of St. Thomas in Santhome cathedral Basilica in Chennai. It was a consummation of my faith as a Catholic. The tomb of St. Thomas the apostle indeed represented the quietness and peacefulness reminiscent of a Saint. It is my singular honor and privilege to be involved in this travel course that had made all these possible and accessible in my lifetime. May God take the glory - Amen.

Venice of India?

This is what we say to the houseboat.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Faith in the Future

From Laura Guber:

Yesterday's visit to Sevalaya was heartwarming and inspirational to say the least. An organization that began just as an orphanage has now grown to serve 30 plus communities and thousands of people day in and day out. Spending time in the school was my particular favorite portion of our day there. Being able to meet and interact with the children was amazing. The first class visited was full of 3 and 4 year olds that spoke no English. This room made conversation difficult, but the smiles on their faces showed excitement of our presence there. Watching them do their daily routines the children appeared well taught and very well behaved in the school setting. The teacher showed us some of the work they had done and I was amazed at the finger paintings of the alphabet and numbers they had completed and how well done it was for children being just 3 and 4 years old. The next classroom my group visited was full of 13 and 14 year olds. Walking in the room was quiet as they were working on a reading exam. We entered the room quietly trying not to disturb them and that silence was quickly broken by the children asking questions and wanting pictures with us. After a few minutes of trying to keep the class focused and continuing with their reading exam the teacher realized it was a lost cause with us in the room and allowed us to interact with the students. Immediately the children swarmed each of us wanting to know our names and began bombarding is for pictures. Once they got pictures from us the biggest smiles came across their faces. Being in India I have seen that the children are thrilled to see us walk in a room. Seeing the joy on their faces brings warmth to my heart, a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. Coming into this trip I had no idea what to really expect in India. Francis had explained to us, but I was still coming in completely open trying to expect nothing and see what happened. In doing so I have been pleasantly surprised. The country had amazed me. It's a beautiful place full if gorgeous individuals with big hearts and lots of talent. My experiences at Sevalaya yesterday have left me humbled and speechless just like many other adventures endured on this trip thus far. The culture in this country is rich. The history is deep. The future is bright.

Sweetness of Sevalaya

From Casey McNamara:

Yesterday we went to Sevalaya, a school, elderly care facility, and an orphanage. We spent most of the day in the classrooms with the children. I was so happy to see how proud each student was of their work. They all seemed so happy to be in school and to be learning. They were excited to learn about us. They asked us about our names, jobs, lucky number and color, national bird and flower. Shea and I even sang our national anthem upon the children's request.

The program was astounding, Sevalaya has done so much to help educate their children. It is located in a rural area of the state. Rural areas have a hard time maintaining the same level of education as urban areas. Sevalaya, however, has been able to push their students and their educational standards so that they can have test scores equal to the students of urban areas, even though they lack some facilities and funding.

It was a very uplifting experience. This organization sought out to do so much, and in a short time has achieved many of their goals.