Mumbai in a Minerva: The India mini-term

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By Katelyn Billings

Last Wednesday, the students who went on the India mini-term decorated Sorum House and presented their memories of a great experience and shared in authentic Indian food. Many students attended the event and even before the event even started, a crowd of students queued outside the kitchen, excited to eat the delicious cuisine.

Carley Perez ’14, who went on the trip, was very excited about sharing her experience with Union. “Tons of people showed up, the food was gone within 15 minutes! It was great to watch people enjoy foods that they had never tried before,” said Perez, who contributed in making the chai tea for the event.

The mini-term to India takes place in the break between the fall and winter terms and focuses on Indian politics, heritage, history and culture. Some excursions included the Taj Mahal and the Ganges Mountains.

“The highlight of the trip for me was going to Haridwar, [a town north of Goa near the Ganges] because it was really spiritual. We went to a few rituals; one was at night on the mountains and the people were praying to their gods, and many families were throwing the ashes of their deceased into the river.        The spirituality of the place was just so amazing, some people migrated miles and miles just to come here for one time in their life,” said Perez. A few other trips included elephant rides, visiting temples and watching a Bollywood movie. Perez and her peers soon learned that India was much more populated than they had thought and that the people of the country were not as different from them as they had expected.

“Being out of the country for the first time was quite a shock … I was expecting to be freaked out by the cultural differences, but all the people I met were friendly and very similar to me,” said Perez.

The group went to an orphanage in Mumbai and they were able to visit with some children and play a few games.  Perez explained that the most inspirational part of the trip was the trip to the youth orphanage in Mumbai, where the group played some games and hung out with the kids. “They didn’t have much but they were so happy, and playing soccer and talking with them was just so great,” she said.

The Minerva event displayed the group’s souvenirs, photos and favorite foods from the country. They also sold authentic Bagru Indian scarves to benefit a fair trade organization, which is in a partnership with the Minerva Fellows program.

Overall, the event was a success, and many students said they were made aware of the opportunities and experiences they could have by visiting India.

“I think the event was really good promotion for the mini-term, and hopefully the slideshow was able to show everyone a good summary of the trip,” said Perez. Perez expressed that the trip was for everyone and for all years, as she went as a senior and was still able to enjoy the trip to the fullest.

She offers some advice for those students who might not want to go abroad just yet, or who don’t have the space in their schedules to go until their last year: “Going as a senior I was more prepared and mature. I could better appreciate the experience and opportunity, a nice ending to my college career,” she said.

The India mini-term lasts three weeks, and each day was filled with life-changing experiences that Perez said she will remember forever.  Perez believes that India offers unique opportunities that no other mini-term can offer. “I highly recommend this mini-term for anyone looking for an experience of a lifetime … I mean, it’s India! When else will you go?” said Perez.

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