Abroad in Oz: How the Minerva Fellows know they’re Nott at Union anymore

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By Jeremy Fritzhand

This term, World Views will feature a piece by a different Minerva Fellow each week in the hopes of providing you a glimpse of the world abroad. Like Dorothy cast far away from Kansas, our beloved Fellows know they have left us. Here’s how.

Jeremy Fritzhand ‘10 is a Minerva Fellow working with the Bagru Print Society in Bagru, India to make a cooperative website where textile artisans can sell products directly to consumers, cutting out middlemen and increasing profit.

I wake up at 5:30 a.m. just as the sun is making its way over the horizon.  Six months ago, the mercury in the thermometer would begin to rise, but now that it’s winter, the temperature in Rajasthan peaks at around 45 degrees.

As I’m rubbing my eyes and watching the dew lift off the ground, I hear a soft knock on my door. I unwrap my wool comforter and tiptoe to the door, a trail of foggy breath in my wake. I’m greeted at the door by my four-year-old host sister Cheyka, who is holding my morning cup of masala chai. She sweetly grins at me, yells “Good morning!” then turns around and runs back to the kitchen.

After taking a bucket shower with water heated from metal coils, I walk the 500 meters to the local Hanuman temple for morning meditation. Waking up in the morning is easy when the road to enlightenment is just a few steps down the street.

Life is simple in Bagru. Although the people live with few of the amenities we Americans are used to, including hot showers, toilet paper, and toothpaste (49 percent of Indians didn’t brush their teeth last year), they are far happier than the majority of people I was accustomed to interacting with in America. No one complains about not having the new style of Uggs, or missing out on the last episode of It’s Always Sunny. People work together to be more productive, even if it means losing exclusive clients.

Working in India on my Minerva fellowship has been the greatest experience in my life and, as stereotypical as it may sound, those of you reading this article should keep in mind all of the luxuries we so often take for granted, even the small stuff like toothpaste.

I look forward to returning to Union in the spring and sharing all my stories, but in the meantime check out my websites wechangetheworldnow.com and bagrutextiles.com.

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