I just arrived today in New Delhi after two layovers. The things that I do for affordable airfares.
I went directly to orientation at the American Institute of Indian Studies. The group of students seems really nice and pretty chill; they’re all Americans in addition to one Spanish girl. I’m going to be taking courses at Jawaharlal Nehru University as well, so that way I can meet Indian and international students.
It was interesting that I arrived just in time for the Culture, Gender and Safety panel, considering that I’m here because I’m interested in gender issues in the culture. Learning about the gendered differences and the degradation of women’s status in India since ancient times, when women enjoyed equal status to men, married at later ages, were literate and chose their own husbands, refreshed me yet again on why I chose to live and experience India for five months, as well as do an internship with an NGO that researches women’s issues. The International Center for Research on Women is an incredible opportunity to work with an international NGO that does research and consulting work for both other NGOs and governments. I’ve had a lot of morose conversations with people who don’t believe that women will ever be treated equally, and that they will always be considered inferior in society, but I simply don’t believe that. Anybody who thinks that fighting for advancements for women is an impossible cause should simply look back to ancient times. It’s only been recently that we began subjugating women and confining them to certain roles and spaces. Cultures can only change, and we can contribute positively to that change going forward.
I’m an optimistic but also a pragmatic person. And I know that that change is happening slowly but surely in India. The 2012 Barnard Global Symposia on Women in India (which highlights the accomplishment of certain Indian women) should perk me up if I get too discouraged 🙂 I’ll go to Mumbai to attend that symposia in March.
Stay tuned for more news! I’ll write about things like Bollywood dance lessons and rickshaws soon enough. I’m not letting the culture go at all – I hope to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival, Carnaval in Goa, and take a higher level of Hindi as well as beginner’s Arabic.
Fir milenge! (See you later!)