Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Final steps?

As we wait to collect luggage that failed to arrive with us yesterday in Philadelphia, a few are en route to KC, some waiting here at the international terminal for bags or arriving at domestic departures, and others are back at the hotel awaiting evening flights. An anti-climactic end to an amazing wonderful 9 days in India. Though we are at present 84 hours into our return trip to KC, this is an extremely resilient group that pushed through like well-seasoned global sojourners.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Overnight in Philly

We are stuck in Philadelphia at the Wyndam hotel, courtesy of Qatar Airways. Thankfully we will be able to eat and shower then catch flights back to KC tomorrow (at different times). USair, American and Delta had no open flights until at least Wednesday but we were able to book everyone a ticket through Southwest. 

Goose Bay layover

As of 1230am, closing doors for departure. 2.5 hours from Philadelphia. 

As of 1130am, still waiting. Serving breakfast on plane right now. 

As of 1020am, we are further delayed due to equipment issues with loading bags. Pilot says 30 more minutes. 

As of 1010am our time, no updates. We continue to wait to take off again for Philadelphia. 

As of 9am our time, we will be on the ground for 1.5 hours, we were told. Baggage needs off-loading and wings de-iced. 

Bright side of traveling abroad

What Interdisciplinary Studies travel course can say, in a 24 hour period, they've been in 4 different countries, 3 distinct weather situations, 2 different international flights both diverted and all with a group who are keeping perspective and actually kind of enjoying these unexpected complications as a whole additional adventure?

Delay...Again and Again and.....

At 6,488 miles in our trip we find ourselves safely landing in Goose Bay in northeast Canada. A passenger is in need of immediate medical attention. Once the situation is under control we will continue on our (seemingly never ending) journey back to KC.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

24 hour delay

Looks like we have to spend the night in the airport and fly out on flight 733 tomorrow morning around 8am (landing after 4pm Dallas time on Monday). The Spirit air flight we will miss in Dallas is not refundable so we have to purchase new tickets. Can anyone launch a Kickstarter campaign for our tickets? ;). 

Still in processing

Recharging in more than one way. 

Desk to get a flight change

In Doha

Deja vu?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Plane delay

Due to thunderstorms in Doha, our plane has been rerouted to Dammam where the weather is clear. Remaining in the plane on the ground in Dammam and will return to Doha when we have fuel and a spot in line to go. We have missed our flight from Doha to Dallas so we will update here once we have rebooked. Details to follow as we know them. 

It has come to an end...yet a new beginning.

Reality is starting to set in; time to go home. We are starting to pack everything and do some last minute shopping before we leave this astonishing country. During my time here I've come to realize that Americans and Indians encounter similar social issues. That in deed we are very similar to one another and can work well with one another. It was nice to be able to address difficult issues openly and have inputs from various individuals. Before this, I came with notions of what to anticipate but this experience has bypassed my expectations.  I've never been received with such hospitality, not in just one place but in every place that we visited; I love that.  Overall this has been such an eye-opening, life changing, educational experience. I would love to come back. I really enjoyed the people, food, culture, learning about the traditions, and humility in this country. India I hope to see you again very soon. Special thanks to Avila University along with Global Studies that allow students to have the opportunity to abroad.  Thanks to them I will return back to my country with a better understanding of another culture, issues occurring across the world, and a glimpse of what the world is like outside my comfort zone. One can say that I will go back with a different perspective of the world with the intention of enlightenling other individuals. Utilizing this experience not only in my career but in my day to day life in America. 

Final days in Madurai

Friday, March 20, 2015

Libby: the right to public health

Today, we visited an NGO that served the visually impaired. Immediately, I felt at home. As the daughter of a social worker whose focus was on developmental disabilities, I was constantly in community with those who live with disabilities. To this day it still amazes me how forgotten such people are in American society. I learned today that this issue also exists in India. I also learned that most people being served by this NGO became visually impaired due to some accident later in life (typically in their 20's and 30's). This is due to the lack of public health education in India. Many men go blind after an accident with fireworks or a car accident. They were not taught about the dangers of fireworks. This has really got me thinking about the right to public health education. Learning about the lack of such a useful tool to all is something I will take with me into my nursing career and will hopefully help to shape how I interact with my future patients and fellow nurses.

Sabrina's thoughts

How can I summarize my experience and the things I've learned? Although our stay here is short, the amount of information I have been recieving has been tremendous. I have really enjoyed my time here and I have learned a lot. The connections we have had with others has been the most impactful for me. When I came to India, I did not know what to expect, but I expected differences. There are many differences between our culture and theirs. I have learned that these differences are okay. We don't have to be the same to connect with one another and coexist. At the same time, we have many similarities, especially in regards to certain human experiences. My time here has been valuable. Spending time in this culture has taught me more than I could have ever learned from books, lectures, or videos. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Yesenia's India Adventure

Today is day 10 in India. I can't believe how fast this trip is coming to an end. I have learned so much during these days which is knowledge I will take back home with me. Yesterday the group visited some villages where the people had the most genuine smiles and were so friendly.  Although they didn't have much they were so happy and such humble people in which I am so grateful to experience. Coming on this trip I really had no idea what to expect but I realized that we have more in common related to the social issues going on. The students are so passionate in creating change for their communities which radiates in each and every one of them. Being able to be part of their culture for these past days has left me with an amazing experience. I would definitely consider coming back to volunteer at some of the schools someday. 

Packed Day

After an overnight train ride from Chennai to Madurai, a very warm, celebratory welcome to Fatima College, dialogues with students, visits to local villages, and a relaxing time for tea at St. Joseph Convent, I'll let the pictures speak until I can have students post their own reflections here. 

Rice paddies...

Tamarind drying in the sun...

Sister Dr. Fatima...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Local paper mention

The caption reads "Clean India: Avila University students help clean the streets..."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Snapshot of Need "Wish List"

Here at Sevelaya, from "cradle to grave" people are cared for. This is their list of needs. 62 rupees converts to $1. Under $100 to sponsor one child's education for an entire year. For more information, go to Sevalaya.org. 

Libby: America the great

I went home the weekend before leaving for India and the resounding messag I heard from family and friends that I would come back just loving America. Yet, I think we both failed to realize that this is a Human rights class. As of today, I don't think I will be coming home with pride in my heart for America. If anything, this trip has really helped to illuminate problems we as Americans have within ourselves and with how we treat the greater world community. The world looks to America for guidance and leadership. What do we do with this attention? Nothing that benefits the most. We'd rather just benefit the few. Because of this, I am not sure that I will come back home with a renewed appreciation for America. Though I will value what I have, the impact of how I live will always be in the back of my mind. "The greatest failure there is in American society is our lack of thinking about human rights," was a comment made during our class reflection two nights ago. I would agree with this statement. It's time to stop thinking so much about me and how others benefit me. It's time to start focusing on how I can benefit the world. I think I'll start by promoting human rights at home.

Rebecka Routh's Thoughts

India has been an amazing and eye opening experience. There is a rich and vibrant culture which is also very complex. Some of our interactions with different communities makes me very thankful to live in America. It also makes me very grateful for the opportunities that I have had and my son will have. Most people would probably think India and America have very different social issues. However, after speaking with many different people India and America have very similar social issues. I have learned a lot and would love to return one day with my family.

Gina Franken's thoughts

During our time in India so far, we have experienced an abundance of new adventures and trials. From seeing one of the world wonders, to learning about
Catholic teachings, to seeing children begging on the streets, there have been many firsts.  Yesterday, we went to an elementary school to assist with street cleaning and to donate school supplies. While the experience was wonderful and it brightened my day to see the kids' happy faces, it was also a cruel reminder of the harsh reality of education systems and resources in India.  Overall, the course has held many new experiences and has been wonderfully educational in all aspects.

Rebecca Lassiter's Thoughts

After being here 6 days I feel like I have seen so many things that I will have to process for the months to come. Being a student and a mom of the 2 my time is so limited that I think I will be processing and thinking about this trip and my experiences for a while. My favorite part of this experience is being in contact with the people of India. The women and children are so warm and welcoming and so genuinely happy to see us. I have noticed that there is a great unity between the women. They call everyone their friends which is so different then in the United States. If I could come back again I would spend a lot of time with the children. Without going on and on I will end it by saying that I have been so positively affected by this trip and I am still not sure all of the ways. 

Pics from today

Cancer Block Visit

Associated with CANstop, these women suffer from cancer and are getting in-patient treatment. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Stella Maris College Conversation

A wonderful conversation about gender equality, mental health, poverty eradication and the reality of the caste system. Clear scrutiny of differences and similarities between India and the U.S.

St Teresa of Avila Parish


Dialogue with Loyola College students about human rights, racism, and social responsibility. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Savera-dise morning

Hotel Savera is a slice of paradise. Wonderful foods for breakfast, renovated rooms (and their UN-renovated states two years ago were more than fine), and friendly, engaging staff. Sitting now off a busy fare, hearing horns from auto-rickshaws, vendors chatting across the street I'm inside also hearing busy scissors trimming Francis' hair. We visit with one parish and two universities today. Last night's dinner with Sisters Flora, Sayhayamary, and Jeno at the home of Roque and Showrilu (Francis' parents) was enlightening indeed. We learned of their social action group work with widows movements, Dalits (i.e. Untouchables), and with nomadic Roma communities in Southern India. Their dedication and passion is inspiring. While many live here on less than a dollar a day, the spirit of solidarity and care for the poor teaches us about how the notion of "public good" permeates thinking and living here in India. 

Day three: acclimatized and rested

We are en route to our hotel in Chennai. Our sightseeing of the last two days is over and for the remainder of our time we will largely be spent engaging with people, universities, schools, agencies and a variety of other groups. Everyone is keeping hydrated and healthy with no notable obstacles or issues. Today we have the opportunity to visit with Francis' family at their home in Ambattur and around a meal together. We will pickup three Sisters of St. Joseph on our way and hear about their ministries, work and histories. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Inside the Agra Fort

Masanobu at the Taj

Taj Cousins

Two identical structures, this being on the west side, next to the Taj Mahal. Standing in a vestibule perfectly centered and the building pictured lines up. Proves time travel must be true because how is this possible without a laser level and measuring device?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Reliable passenger list, version 1.0

This list never crashes and doesn't require GSM access. Easy to use and available to all. 

515am: Off to Taj Mahal

Not the restaurant, but the tomb in Agra. This will be the second UNESCO World Heritage Site we see, the first being Qutub Minar. Breakfast on the bus before catching the train for a 2-hour ride. On a telling and humorous note, we had plans to meetup for dinner last night and absolutely no one woke up for it (that includes everyone :)). Lots of well-deserved rest after being on the move for two days straight. 

Jama Masjid Mosque

India's largest mosque, entryway.