Thursday, July 3, 2008

Final Thoughts

It's hard to believe that these three weeks are already finished. With one day left, the Udayachal students are getting ready to catch up on three weeks of school work, and most of the PA students are getting ready to go back to the USA. However, these three weeks have been some of the most exciting, fun, interesting, and powerful weeks of my entire life. We have all changed in many ways, gained perspective on the privileges that we have in life, and are eager to continue service work in the future. Our discussion on privilege this morning was insightful and brought out many new ideas, and we spent a long time discussing the line between rights and privilege, and the freedom to exercise those rights relating to having privilege.

On Wednesday, some of us visited the US consulate in Mumbai, and spoke with an official at the consulate, Michael Newbill. He provided us with the State Department's perspective on India and Mumbai's development. He also spoke with us about his background in the foreign service, and what life is like transferring every two years to a completely new coutnry. That evening, we were able to spend some time buying last-minute gifts for friends and family at home, and we went out to an excellent restaurant in South Mumbai.

It is hard to quantify the how this trip has affected me, and for the next few months, that will be a major goal for all of us. The most tangible effect that the trip has had on me is that it has sparked a desire to continue community service and begin participating in service work at Phillips Academy. However, this trip has also given me the opportunity to meet extremely successful, interesting people, who offer many different perspectives on urban development, as well as experiences that will last a lifetime. The most enjoyable and influential aspects of the trip for me were the visits to the various communities around Mumbai, such as the Dharavi community, the Cuffe Parade community, and the Mankhurd building complex. The fact that we are able to experience some of the aspects of life in two very distinct types of communities, the open air slum communities and the building communities, was amazing, but the fact that we were able to actually make a difference on the final day by cleaning a building and successfully petitioning for access to running clean water for the building really impacted us the most.

I am going to miss living and spending time with this amazing group of faculty and students. I would like to thank everyone who has made this trip possible, especially our two head faculty members, Mr. Mundra and Alana. Thanks for reading the blog, and we are looking forward to sharing our experiences with you first hand once we reach home.

-Aditya Mithal (Phillips Academy '10)

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