Hello! Nessa here.
Sitting at my desk having my mid-morning coffee and staring out the window at a shockingly quiet West Campus, I feel very serene. I’m taking my time to savor my coffee, since it will be in limited supply the next month and a half, and appreciating the opportunity to relax after the last few weeks, even though I know the next couple of hours will be a flurry of preparations, last-minute laundry, shopping, packing (yes, I have barely started. Don’t tell John.), and attempting to find clear plastic bottles. In the past weeks, I have been busy with exams, finals, medical school applications, and project work. The quick turn-around between finishing the semester and starting our project will probably give me some painful whiplash tomorrow morning, when I realize that I need to wake up and leave Austin around 4 a.m. to get to the Houston Intercontinental Airport 3 hours before our flight at 10:45.
I’m feeling a bit nervous since I’ve never been to this region of India, let alone with 3 other students instead of my family and for 6 weeks, and since, once we are on the ground, we’ll be teaching lessons in English and computer literacy every day. We will first interact with the two villages to find out what improvements need to be made in education, and we will later present these findings as well as tips to teachers from the government schools and learning centers. In addition, we will give a few seminars on effective teaching, education, employment, sustainable development, and goal setting for adolescents. I have been comforted by our Skype call with DJMV and the FMM sisters. We were able to meet everyone that we will be working with in Odisha, and they were extremely accommodating and excited. Sister Amala even asked us if we’d like them to try making us some American food. Of course, we politely declined, since I am looking forward to having spicy, fresh seafood. They seemed very on top of the project objectives, with flyers for the classes ready to go and a list of potential students already started. Plus, they were enthralled with the preparations we’ve done, even by our rudimentary Telugu.
We’re all really thankful to everyone who’s been helping us get ready for this trip: Dhanya, for working with our terrible pronunciation and still managing to teach us some basics, Natasha, for putting together a list of places to see in Mumbai and talking to us about India and Odisha, Sudheesh and Moy for giving us more cultural perspective on our objectives, the amazingly helpful UTeach professors, Professors Joseph Kieke and Kelli Allen, who weighed us down with construction paper, diagrams, and documents, Lynne Levinson, who talked to us about helping to set career goals, and everyone else who has supported us. Even though I am anxious about the project, I feel very prepared by all the work we have already put into it.
I’m excited, and I hope you are too! We’ll be posting an update here at least once a week, so please follow us and leave comments.