Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Student Post: Social Work Outreach by Kali Fairchild

Last Friday was one of my favorite days in India so far. We have all been hoping and yearning to make relationships with students at BACAS, and I have decided to try my hardest to make this happen. We got word that on Friday a group of students from the social work department would be traveling to a nearby village to present a public addiction awareness “program.” We didn’t really know what this meant or what it would look like, but we said we would be there. Five of us ISPers ended up going along with the students, and we are so glad we did.

 We thought we would miss the bus since we showed up 30 minutes late, but thanks to Indian time we were actually a few minutes early! We loaded the bus with about 30 other students. There were people sitting on each others’ laps and standing in the isle.  It was awesome. As we traveled to the village they yelled, sang, and got hyped for the event. We got off the bus when we reached the village and the students dispersed signs for us to hold as we paraded around the slum. They had a loudspeaker and yelled chants I did not understood but could at least respond with “illI, illI!” which means, “Don’t do it, don’t do it!”.  We found out later that the signs and street skits were encouraging people not to abuse tobacco and encouraging awareness of alcoholism and warning of the dangers of over-consuming alcohol. We got to see a different part of Coimbatore on this adventure, and for the first time I think it finally hit us; we are in India.

 Once we walked around the village and got everyone’s attention, we congregated in an open area and
the students did street skits, songs, and dances. The children in the slum gathered around and clapped along. It was a surreal experience, and a ton of fun. When the last skit ended we headed back to the bus and then the party really began. We all danced, chanted, and sang our way back to BACAS. A meal was waiting for us upon return and dancing followed.  It was a great night. If one stops to think about all of the differences between an Indian student and an American student, you could think yourself silly. But, on Friday all of those differences faded as we sat, marched, danced, and chanted together. Finding joy in moments like this is what is making this trip so special for me. I love the passion the students and faculty at BACAS have and I hope many more moments like this occur during our time here. 

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