My field placement is being organized through the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, India. It is comparable to UB linking an international student with an organization for an internship here in Buffalo. The semester at TISS starts later than UB’s which is why I will not be travelling until February. I am sure this next month is going to fly by and I will feel like I am leaving in no time!
During this next month I will be continuing to work with my cultural liasion. She is from India and a former student at TISS. I do not know what I would do without her helping me prepare for this trip! Lately, I have been reviewing articles on community development in India which have been an aid to the knowledge I gained during my community social work class last semester. I have also been prescribed readings on the caste system in India and tools to utilize as a community worker.
Many times when I tell people I am going to India for an internship, they remind me of how impoverished it is and that it is very dangerous. There are many people who encourage the trip too. I understand that I need to be aware of my surroundings and that my safety is paramount during my stay. I anticipate this experience to be challenging and out of my comfort zone. In fact, that is what I am looking for. I have lived a life as a privileged white female which I have no complaints about. At the same time I have a deep-rooted desire for the experience of life in a completely different way than I know. I want to work in the slums in Mumbai because I want to understand what it is like. I want to witness their resiliency and appreciate their sense of community.
When I volunteered in Machalilla, the residents were so happy even without running water or electricity. They had a sense of community that made me feel welcomed and nurtured. Financial struggles were certainly challenging for them, but money did not run their lives. I cannot say if it will be similar in the slums of Mumbai, but I guarantee that the people I will be working with will leaving a lasting impression on me. I am confident that my mindset and openness will enable me to be an effective community facilitator during my field placement.
I have been waiting for this trip for over a year now and I cannot believe it is almost here! I am ready for take off!