When Bachelor of Information Technology student Rosie first heard about the IT for Social Impact study tour in India she jumped to the conclusion that it wasn’t for her, however several months later she was on the plane about to embark on what she has described as “The best thing I’ve done at uni!”
Looking back, I think India has made its mark on me both figuratively and literally, although the henna did fade eventually.
1. The places you’ll go
Stepping out from the shiny airport to the muggy Indian air and buzzing through the streets in a taxi seeing the city of Mumbai for the first time, is a memory that will not fade quickly.
The most striking experience in exploring the city was seeing people living in the machine of chaos. All the sights and smells were intriguing.
It was tiring physically and on your senses. As we heard from a local guide in Mumbai, “you need three good things to cross the road here – good feet, good eyes and good luck.”
One of our journeys involved a 10 hour train trip. Throughout the trip people were constantly moving about the carriages, some selling chai, some looking for an empty place to perch, others trying to sell bananas. There was no rest from the bustle, even on a train moving at 60km per hour.
2. The people you’ll meet
I met so many people! School children, teachers, volunteers, community leaders and of course the amazing team.
Being part of a group that shared the complete experience helped us to see the humour in the chaos and share the joy in the friendships built.
The school children we met were so gorgeous. Seeing their faces light up as we interacted with them was rewarding.
3. The causes you’ll support
This trip was run in conjunction with local not-for-profit group CERES, based in Brunswick, as part of their CERES Global program. We also worked with three Indian non-government organisations, including one working in the red light district of Mumbai. Through these partnerships we were able to build upon existing relationships and do real work in the communities.
4. The technology you’ll showcase
We got to show the teachers and students fun technology like the Kaiser Baas Alpha Drone Quadcopter, as well as educational and Wi-Fi resources.
Before the trip each team member was involved in discovering, researching and sourcing these so that we could share them. One of my favourite moments was gathering around the school oval in a massive circle with hundreds of students and all the teachers watching in awe as this drone flew over them, snapping photos along the way.
5. The culture you’ll experience
One night in the rural village after dinner, we all crowded into the tiny kitchen and had a lesson in chai making. Another afternoon we stopped into the sari shop, where we sat cross legged on the floor as they piled dozens of Sari’s in the middle of us, so many colours and fabrics all at once!
We also got to see some of the local sports, tribal songs and young talent on display at schools we visited. We saw stunning sights like the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, which are much better in person than in the posters and postcards.
We experienced many contrasts on this trip, which I think is a great privilege. Anyone can visit India and see the contrasts of opulence and poverty in the cities, but few get to stay in rural areas like Pal and visit remote villages like Jamnya and Mohmandali.
I don’t exaggerate when I say it’s the best thing I’ve done at uni!
Written by Rosie Caruana from Swinburne and a CERES Global Participant from December 2015.