By Rebecca Norris, University of Communications
Drury students ventured to the other side of the world over winter break. A group of students went to India and Thailand with Dr. Rabindra Roy, Dr. Protima Roy, Lakshmi Roy, and Rose Roy. They received credit for Minorities and Indigenous Cultures, a Global Studies requirement. They delved into another culture and immersed themselves completely by experiencing it firsthand.
The students spent one week of the three week excursion volunteering at Hem Sheela Model School, Drury’s sister school. They helped teach along with a few education majors who were student teaching. Sarah Jenkins, a Drury junior, had an encounter with the children when asking them what they thought of President George W. Bush. Sarah said, “One little girl said that they do not have respect for him or his character, and that there is no such things as a bad peace or a good war.”
The school children at Hem Sheela were well-behaved and excited to have visitors. They rose each day as the Drury students walked in, shook hands, and endlessly asked each Drury student to share their names. Drury students felt privileged to have the opportunity to teach Indian kids well-known American games—Red Rover, Duck-Duck-Goose, and Hangman.
The Indian people welcomed the group of American students. Students visited different host families for dinner, and the families often went out of their way to make the students feel comfortable. Sarah says of the experience, “One family hired a group of street performers who played music and danced and also had henna artists for us.” Drury students even experienced something that most of us think of automatically when we think of India—snake charmers. One family hired a snake charmer, which gave the opportunity for many students to hold a cobra.
The Drury group received near-celebrity treatment. Heather Kelley, another Drury junior, said she was handed a baby to be photographed with while visiting the Taj Mahal. Both Heather and Sarah agreed about one thing: The Indians must not be accustomed to large groups of Americans, because stares followed them where ever they went.
Right before the group left Springfield, the tsunami hit portions of Asia. The death tolls have passed 289,000, yet the Drury students reported experiencing little effects during their travels. Many stores had collection cans for donations, but unfortunately, the group had no other opportunity to help. Heather said the only close encounter she faced was a person on her plane who was headed to India look for a loved one.
Overall, the trip was a memorable one. Sarah spoke of her time in India, “I would recommend this trip to someone who wants to see a very different way of life in Indian culture, but is also willing to live without some of the comforts we are used to in America. Americans can learn something from Indians and they can learn something from us.”