April 04 2018, Blog by Marjan Atashkhayer Didra, India: Gender, Culture and Human Rights
I chose this program for two reasons first, it’s relation to my major which is Gender Women and Sexuality Studies. We will be studying women, gender, and human rights in India. Second, my passion to learn about Indian people, culture, and society as a whole. India has always been so close to my heart because we shared so much history. I grew up in Iran so it would be interesting to see the similarities and differences. I am hoping to see India holistically in it’s political, national and cultural affair. Since India is a vast country and is very diverse, I am interested to learn about how they implement certain laws around rights for women and gender.
What specific skills do I hope to develop abroad?
I would like to dive deeper into my communication, tolerance and transparency skills to not only implement them actively also to improve them through this two weeks journey.
How can I make friends in the host culture?
I believe in the power of vulnerability so through sharing my own experiences and by being open I am hoping to form a deep connection and ultimately friendship with my fellow group mates.
Am I concerned about missing friends, family? How will I stay in touch with them?
Since I have spent most of my adult life traveling and living abroad I believe it wouldn’t be an issue for me to be away, however, this definitely could be a concern for some students. Fortunately, through the use and availability of technology, we can close the gap and stay in touch with our loved ones.
What are some of my anxieties or fears? My study abroad is right after our final exams so my main concerns are making sure all my assignments are done and submitted since our access to the internet may be limited. I am very excited about being in India.
While in abroad
India is a beautiful country. We have visited Delhi and Jaipur and small cities in between. There are many historical places and buildings. The country is rich in culture, tradition, and symbols. Lots of colors to be seen everywhere throughout the city. Beautiful sights and architecture. Women and Men wear beautiful colors and traditional clothing. It is very common to see women wear jewelry and colorful saris.
We have been meeting different lecturers with a focus on gender and human rights. As students, we all have a specific topic that we are working to develop an understanding around. During the lectures, we can ask questions and talk about what our personal beliefs or experiences are back in the USA. Some of our lectures take place on the field such as visiting the specific communities and colleges in order to interact with people and students personally.
Since our trip is somewhat short we have only been focusing on the lectures and not much of a sightseeing but it will happen towards the end of our trip. We did visit Taj Mahal in Agra and it was mesmerizing. The beauty of this monument is beyond words.
I have always wanted to visit India and now I am so glad to say that this place is not only magical but also historical. People are very kind, respectful and hospitable. I am so grateful to have the privilege to be here. I am also thankful to my professors and the University of Washington for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing journey.
This trip has changed my perspective and impacted the way I see other cultures and the world. Realizing that as people we may embody different feature, color or lifestyle but we are all the same in ways we connect with each other. Being offered tea at every bus stop we have had or a new place we have been invited gave me the understanding of how being hospitable is part of every culture. After this trip, I intend to apply for more study abroad programs as it has helped me to further develop my understanding of race, class, and gender in different settings.