It is time for a revival of this blog! I am back in India this summer on a Northeastern summer study abroad program as the teaching assistant on a research course on climate change science and policy. I participated in this program as a student last year and after traveling around India witnessing firsthand the impact of climate change on a vulnerable population, I realized my passion for the issue and immediately applied to graduate school in the field. I will begin a Master of Science program this September in Security and Resilience Studies, where I hope to focus on urban resiliency in developing countries in the face of natural hazards related to climate change. I am so excited about this path and I look forward to expanding my knowledge this summer in India before starting graduate school.
This year we have 28 undergraduate students participating in the program and we all departed Boston on Sunday night, and after a very long 24 hours we arrived early Tuesday morning in Mumbai, India. Immediately, we were greeted with the heat and humidity of pre-monsoon India. The heat is probably the one part of India that I did not miss, but I feel much better prepared to handle it well this summer than I was last summer. Our travel provider, the amazing Chariot India, welcomed us after immigration and customs with beautiful flower garlands and off we went to the hotel.
That same morning (even though it really felt like a new day with the time change!) we began acclimating to the heat and the chaos that is Mumbai. We visited a giant mall to pick up any supplies (my luggage arrived on time this year, so the mall visit was less necessary this time around!) we may have forgotten, and then spent dinner at an outdoor plaza near IIT Bombay. This plaza was one that we stayed near last year and I was a big fan of the dosa stand there. It was such a treat to eat a giant masala dosa for dinner that cost less than 1 USD! For dessert, I had an amazing mango milkshake that was basically just ripe liquid mango – yum!
After a good night’s sleep, we began our academic program on Wednesday morning. After a hearty breakfast, we were off to Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, one of the major Indian universities to hear from a few professors and visit a couple workshops. First we heard from the head of CTARA, or the Center for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas. He lectured on “Knowledge, Society and Culture for India as a Developing People.” CTARA’s work is about providing easy to make technology alternatives that help a community better serve itself. One example that was described was an add-on to the cookstove, or chulha, used in rural homes to make them more efficient, less soot producing, and less wood consuming; all of which can make life better for the people who use the chulha. After the lecture, we visited both the CTARA workshop and a food science laboratory, both of which were very interesting, despite the high temperature.
Being back in India this summer is crazy – I can’t believe it has been a year since I was here last, it really feels like just yesterday. As our professor sang to us over the microphone on our way back to the hotel, it brought back such great memories of last summer and the people I spent it with. I’m excited to explore India with new eyes this year and create many new memories with this new group of Northeastern students.