Peda Jalaripeta, India
By Amy Hanson
I spent three months in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh, India, taking Telugu classes and conducting research on the local government of a nearby fishing village. I spent most of my time forming friendships in the village Peda Jalaripeta, interviewing leaders of the community and listening to stories. I worked with a translator to create records of conflicts in the village over the past few decades, and examining how the elders of the Jalari mediated those conflicts. Since returning to the United States, I have been working on a lengthy research paper which will mark the culmination of my research.
I learned so much during my time in India. I learned to communicate with people who spoke a language entirely foreign to me. I learned that people in other parts of the world live differently, eat different foods, abide by different religious, political, and cultural beliefs, and yet they are human as I am and merit respect because of that fact. I had to be self-motivated in order to complete research on my own, and I had to repeatedly reach outside of my comfort zone to ask questions of people that regarded me as an outsider.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in India. I had crazy adventures and gained invaluable experience researching. I also formed really meaningful friendships with some choice people of India. It was definitely one of the most difficult things I have ever done because of the vast geographical and cultural differences from my own home. That being said, I feel like I was able to watch myself grow in numerous areas, and would not trade those three months for anything.