Friday, July 20, 2012

Mercer's Jasmine Blakemore Blogs From Her Service in India

As part of Mercer On Mission, rising women's basketball junior Jasmine Blakemore is spending a portion of her summer break in India, exploring health challenges facing the nation's population.  Blakemore will check-in with periodic blogs during her stay; Scroll down to read her series of entries.

Mercer On Mission is a unique blend of study abroad and service-learning that provides life-changing experiences for students through academic instruction, cultural immersion, meaningful service, and spiritual reflection.

Click here for photos.
Day 17 – July 26, 2012

What a day full of history I had today. We took a field trip four hours outside the city to visit the famous ancient 1,000 year-old sun temple in the state of Gujarat. It was really cool, there was a prayer area that was filled with a 15 ft pool of water. It was built pyramid style around the water, with 108 prayer idols built-in. In the background of the pool was the two standing temples. Both hand carved were beautiful. As we walked into the main temple to admire the architecture, we look up and there was ceiling full of bats! It was crazy.

After leaving the Sun Temple we went into the city of Admehbaad, where we visited the ashram of Gandhi. There we visited his home, temple and walked through the museum made in his honor. It was a great experience and quite humbling as well. I was able to really understand what he stood for and what he means to this country.

Today was definitely a day I could never forget, so much history and so many great images, that I will remember forever.

Day 14 – July 23, 2012

Today was different than the usual. We woke up this morning and attended a class. The class that we attended was at my professor's old place of study, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. There we sat-in on a class about social work in the urban slum areas. We were able to interact with students and also answer questions.  We were also able to learn about the ways that they problem-solve their communities. I learned that even though our facts and figures are a little different, their problem-solving techniques are close what we would come up with in America. When class was over and we had a break we went to the courtyard for an ice-breaker. We played some trust games and learned a traditional folk dance. Even though my time is coming to a close here in India I can truly say that I am enjoying myself.

Day 10 - July 19, 2012

Today has been quite interesting. We took a trip to the government hospital, which is one of the main governmental medical facilities in the state of Gujarat. It was very different from what I am use to seeing in an American hospital. All types of treatments are given in this hospital - from surgeries to dental work. They have all their departments in one facility. We also got to take a tour of the neonatal department in the maternal ward. The babies were so small! It was great to see how medical care is distributed to people in other counties. Also helped me to appreciate some of the things that I know I take for granted with my own medical care. 

Later in the day, we went to the slum of Ramdevnagar. It is actually better maintained than I initially thought. However, it was still evident that it isn't the best condition to live in. For example, in the entrance of the slum there is a pit full of dirt, animal feces, and trash.  The pit was just one piece of the troubling conditions that these people live in everyday. There are also many animals all around. By now I am use to seeing goats, cattle and monkeys in the street, but in this particular division of the city they are abundant. With the heat and rain mix, walking through the slums is a challenge due to a lack of a proper drainage.  The situation makes it hard to get around and makes our jobs much more difficult. Still, the families are very hospitable and helpful making what we have to do much easier. 

We hope to soon be done gathering information and head into the analysis stage of the study.

Day 6 – July 15, 2012

It's Sunday and I have officially been away from the United States for about a week now. I'm getting more accustomed to the differences from home and the stares we get out in public. I've even caught people taking pictures of us! I honestly feel like people have taken more pictures of us than we have of them.  It's actually pretty entertaining to me. 

On Wednesday, we started our field work in a village called Lingsthul, collecting data for a study we are conducting with BCC. I was surprised to see the differences of how people were living. In the same village, there were people who had nearly nothing and people who lived quite comfortably. We went to many houses asking them the questions for the study and sitting and having coffee or tea. During one of our rounds I had at least five cups of tea! We also got a chance to interact with the kids at the village's primary school. It was such an experience. We taught them little phrases in English and they taught us a few in Gujarati (the local language). I now officially know how to say: good-bye, let's go, my name is, and thank you. I really didn't know exactly what was in store for me with this trip but I see a change in myself already.

Day 1 – July 10, 2012

Today I have finally made it to Vadodara, India. The first three days were a struggle, since we spent them in-and-out of airports.  First, we traveled from Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta to Heathrow airport in London, England. From Heathrow, we flew all the way to Chhatrapati Shivaji airport in Mumbai, and then on to our final destination of Vadodara in the state of Gujarat. However, when we finally made it to Vadodara, I was relieved - but the work was about to begin. Tomorrow, we are to get acquainted with the staff of The Baroda Citizens Council as they brief us on the work we will do for the next couple of weeks. I'm excited but scared at the same time because I really don't know what I'm getting myself into.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Atlantic Sun blog welcomes all comments, critiques and questions. We only delete those comments that are abusive, off-topic, use excessive foul language, or include ad hominem attacks. We pre-moderate comments on our blog posts.